Who Are Your Students?

This year, we all have faced an unprecedented global pandemic, natural disasters, and civil unrest. As we consider strategies for reopening schools and accelerating student learning, we must ensure that students and your school community members feel safe, cared for, and ready to learn. At NTC, we believe in the power of an Optimal Learning Environment — a framework that identifies mindsets, practices, and conditions for equity that reflect a commitment to prioritize the social, emotional, and academic learning of our most resilient students.

This blog post is the first in a series that can help you consider, step by step, how to build that supportive environment in your district or school.

Who Are Your Students?
We believe the most powerful question to start with is: who are your systemically underserved students? It’s critical to deeply understand the individual experiences of your students to design solutions that can disrupt the predictability of educational inequity. In future posts, we will begin to tackle strategies and solutions, but first, we invite you to reflect individually or with your team, considering:

  • Which students in my district/school community have been historically underserved? What has their experience been this past year? How do I know? What do I not know about their experience that I should learn more about?
  • Which students in my district/school do I not know much about personally? What do I not know about their experience that I should learn more about?
  • What data and/or conversations (with families, students, local community organizations, etc.) might better help me understand my students’ experiences?

Join our Conversation Lab for support
We’d love to hear from you to know how these conversations go. Please join us for a Conversation Lab on Wednesday, May 12 (12:00pm PT / 3:00pm EST). Our conversation will explore components of a protocol for identifying and prioritizing underserved student populations with particular attention to understanding student and family experiences, and practices that build and strengthen relationships. You can register here. Feel free to also reach out to us directly at

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