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New Tech West turns to NTN for Coaching for Collaboration

New Tech West High School students are learning through the New Tech Network Model at the Cleveland, Ohio high school, part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. “Our goal is for our scholars to thrive and become their most authentic selves, and mature into agents of change,” says Shaunamichelle Leonard, Principal at New Tech West. “It takes a lot of work on our part for the staff to be in tune with the students, in tune with the Model and work collaboratively together.”

New Tech West High School has worked with a number of NTN coaches over the past six years, and credits these coaches as a major contributor to the school’s success. “The positivity they share with us, and the passion for the Model allows us to continue to grow and thrive as leaders,” says Leonard. At New Tech West, the staff recognizes that school change is not a “one size fits all” approach, and notes how the NTN coaches serve as thought partners to evaluate what elements of the Model fit best for the school, and how they can work together in the future with a focus on continuous improvement.

Emily Wobser, the assistant principal at New Tech West, shares how their experience with their current coach has inspired the school leaders and teachers to think differently. “Our coach Gaylen [Brannon] always impresses us with her planning and preparation, but also how quick she is on her feet, and the passion she shows because she believes in the Model so fully,” says Wobser.

Opting to incorporate additional coaching support in other areas has helped the school’s improvement journey. “It’s been really effective to have the meetings to evaluate the professional development at the beginning of our work, and I think that’s been really effective to have an understanding of the culminating PD at the end of the year,” says Wobser. “It’s so nice to see from the last session what staff have remembered or been able to apply.” Wobser states that the coaching has been even more meaningful because it’s not standalone, it’s continuously and intentionally building.

“The administrative and instructional leadership of Shaunamichelle Leonard and Emily Wobser, continues to be a highlight of the work at New Tech West,” said Gaylen Brannon, NTN School Development Coach “They have established, and continue to nurture, a strong adult culture which is fundamental to building a foundation for student learning. In addition, they have leveraged this culture to enhance professional learning to deepen implementation of PBL/PrBL across the school.”

One of the goals that New Tech West is working on for the upcoming school year is to create a systemic way to teach writing in the curriculum, so that by 12th grade, students will be able to independently create an argumentative or expository writing piece. “We want scholars to leave us post-high school with the skill set in place for this writing level, with a process that’s systematically and intentionally done by building up with scaffolds along the way as they matriculate through high school,” says Leonard.

In addition to coaching days, New Tech West leadership leverages NTN’s other events throughout the year to build their instructional and leadership capacities, like NTN’s annual Leadership Summit. “Every year, I’m excited to go,” says Leonard. “I love it because it allows me the opportunity to put everything else aside, and come together with a group of school leaders who serve as thought partners.”

The staff at New Tech West recognize the significance of modeling the connections they make between each other and other educators for the students. “Some of the modeling Gaylen has done for us, such as work with the NTN Practices Cards, are simple but can make a big impact in terms of building connections and comfort levels between learners,” said Wobser. “Gaylen helps more seasoned staff get a refresher, too, of all the options we have to pick from as far as implementing instructional practices in our classroom, which staff are very familiar with because they just learned it in the professional development sessions.”

Incorporating the voices of teachers is critical to the success of the culture at New Tech West, states Leonard. “By having these options, our teachers can make sense of what’s aligned to their curriculum, and have lots of choices for how to share that experience in the classroom. It’s not just an activity, but the foundations of where you want to go for your students. The teachers felt heard and included.”

New Tech West moves into the 2023-2024 school year with a mindset of reflection, revision and planning, with NTN as a thought partner and support to meet their vision for continuous improvement.

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