Empowering Educators: Reflecting on this Summer's Transformative Learning Experiences

This summer marked a period of reflection, growth, and empowerment for educators and school leaders who engaged in our immersive professional learning offerings. The National Freshman Success Institute, Leading Professional Learning Communities workshop, and Equity-Based Leadership workshop provided participants with resources, tools, and transformative insights that will support their work in schools this year.
Let’s revisit these impactful experiences and highlight the moments that resonated profoundly with attendees.

National Freshman Success Institute: Nurturing Student Journeys 

The National Freshman Success Institute offered a unique opportunity for educators and leaders to delve into strategies that guide students on their journey to graduation. Collaborative interactions among peers were a standout feature of the program, with one attendee sharing, "Working with other educators helped gain valuable insights and broaden perspectives."
2022–23 National Freshman Success Institute participants.
The Institute's emphasis on student-centered and data-informed approaches left a lasting impression. By the conclusion of the Institute’s summer session, educators were equipped with actionable plans to drive positive change for their ninth grade students within their respective contexts. When asked what ideas they might employ at their respective school/district, participants shared the following:
  • “Embedding the practices of this work into the school and putting the reflection back on the teachers and staff while utilizing subtle supports to move the work forward.”
  • “There is so much I hope we take away as a team. For me personally, I want to take away what I learned about ninth graders developmentally. I want to start incorporating practices that foster executive function growth, agency and identity, in my own classroom.”
  • “I absolutely love the Ninth Grade On-Track Toolkit! I will use it in many ways - I have selected an article that I will be reading this evening!”

Leading Professional Learning Communities (PLCs): Facilitating Growth Together

The Leading PLCs workshop offered a deep dive into the world of facilitative leadership and its connection with equity in education. Attendees explored their own identities and took time to appreciate the beauty of serving students. "Learning to embrace my identity and understanding its impact was a transformative experience," shared a participant.
Participants at the 2023 Leading PLCs Workshop
The workshop's emphasis on shared expertise and community building left a profound impact, nurturing a sense of unity and purpose among participants. Overall, attendees departed with a commitment to fostering meaningful change. Here are some key ideas and new perspectives shared by participants: 
  • “You’ll probably never be truly ready for leadership, so even if you don’t feel ready trust that you’re capable.”
  • “That the work needs to be spread out. Moving slowly through complex work is not a crime. Progress over pressure.”
  • “I learned to take into account my own identity when leading, not just in spaces when I feel left out or alone.”
  • “Leveraging tools, resources, and talent to help others develop the capacity for my work.”

Equity-Based Leadership: Exploring Race and Anti-Racist Work

During the Equity-Based Leadership workshop, participants embarked on a personal journey of critical reflection–in an effort to better serve schools and young people. Protocols designed to encourage vulnerability and open dialogue deepened participants' understanding of equity-driven leadership.
Participants at the 2023 Equity-Based Leadership Workshop
Creating a conducive environment for embracing dissonance was particularly impactful, as participants recognized the value of confronting challenging conversations and developing stances regarding their values and work. When asked what action they will take coming out of this experience, participants shared:
  • “Setting expectations for my staff for holding one another accountable when they hear deficit language about students or communities of color.”
  • “I am going to actively engage with my emotions when they come up and use them as information, especially when issues of race come into play.”
  • “Honoring my stance of embracing uncomfortableness to ensure I am being an anti-racist educator.”
As the summer season draws to a close, we are grateful to have collaborated with participating educators and supported them in enacting positive change in their classrooms and school communities.
If you are curious to learn more about our programs and resources, visit our website to learn more. Sign up for our emails to be the first to know when registration for a workshop opens up.