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A Reflection on the Year

A Reflection on the Year

As we turn the page on 2022, I’m so grateful for the determined and dedicated group of changemakers we partner with both within NTC and across the nation. In my early tenure at NTC, I am heartened and guided by the compassion and wisdom of our staff, partners, supporters, and others leading this movement. You are the heart of our community, and our collective work is an example of the sustained equity practice we must all engage in in service to our young people.

At the end of the year, we pause to celebrate rich and diverse holidays and traditions but recognize that the challenges and hardships many of our friends, colleagues, students, and community members face do not disappear. We hold them and each other in our hearts.

Yet, the newness of 2023 does hold promise. Dynamic, engaging, rigorous, optimal, and inclusive learning in classrooms doesn’t just happen. It takes work from so many — teachers, coaches, school leaders, administrators, paraprofessionals, nonprofit partners, school community professionals, families, and students. Every one of us, working independently and in solidarity, is a critical agent of change.

Let’s remember the power of our community when we encounter the next impasse. Wendell Berry shared that when we get to the “real work” a community truly shines:

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

In 2022, we have so much real work to celebrate. Our accomplishments are a wellspring of what’s possible and a forecast of what’s to come.

  • Our staff engaged in a series of equity-centered professional learning opportunities as part of our diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. From our Cultivating Authentic Connections Intensive to management training with the Center for Creative Leadership, we’re taking critical steps to walk our talk from the inside out.
  • A multi-day, in-person retreat brought all staff together for the first time in three years, allowing us the opportunity to connect, nurture relationships, and participate in strategic vision-setting as one team.
  • We shared the experiences and perspectives of our priority student communities, amplifying the ideas and self-determined needs of learners. In particular, we appreciate the essential feedback and review of NTC services and work by our first-ever Student Advisory Committee.
  • We expanded NTC’s emerging Direct-to-Educator (DTE) offering— a personalized digital professional learning experience – to 14 partners. In Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), early learning teachers engaged in the DTE early learning equity playlist (a track of dedicated content) alongside the paraprofessionals who supported their students. The Santa Rita Unified School District in California took a different approach and integrated the content directly into their professional learning plan for educators and support staff to support the district’s vision.
  • We worked with Houston ISD’s district coaches and school support managers to make instructional coaching a three-way conversation — between students, their teachers, and the coaches who support them. Students are providing critical feedback on their learning experiences to co-design learner-centered practices with their teachers.
  • We supported school systems with their Grow Your Own teacher pathways programs. Our partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools focused on sustaining their teacher pipeline and providing multi-faceted yet coherent pre-service learning opportunities for aspiring educators in the district’s multi-faceted Grow Your Own teacher pathways programs.
  • Our partnership with ExpandEd Schools supported aspiring educators of color in navigating early entry points to teaching careers.
  • Over the course of the year, our National Program Leaders Network brought together over 100 education innovators from across the country, virtually and in-person, to encourage the cross-pollination of wisdom, ideas, and model practices in teacher development that move the needle toward equity.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” These few examples of real work required collaboration, diversity of thought, and a willingness to embrace risk and discomfort. I hope you, too, get some time over the next several weeks, surrounded by loved ones and holiday traditions, to embrace all of your “little bits of good.”

My best wishes for a holiday season and New Year full of well-being, love, and peace as we commit to the journey ahead.

See you in 2023.

With gratitude,
Tommy Chang

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NTC offices will be closed December 19 – January 2 in celebration of a winter break and new year. We’ll return on Tuesday, January 3, 2023.

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This week, our offices will close for a much-needed break. A core part of our approach to professional learning is embracing and nurturing the wellness of our educators. That goes for our staff too. We’ll take some time for the things and people that bring us joy and fill our cups to sustain our work for the long haul.