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National Program Leaders Network: NOLA Edition

Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.

Over 100 education innovators came together for two days of powerful learning in New Orleans at our October National Program Leaders Network (NPLN) convening. Several times a year, we design these intensive opportunities for our partners to think collaboratively about ways to move the needle toward equity through teacher development and support. NPLN offers a space for cross-pollination of wisdom and ideas — what’s working and what’s possible — and dedicated time for our partners to plan how to apply new learning in their own contexts.

NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.
NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.
NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.
NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.
NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.

From Alaska to Hawaii, from LA to Tulsa to Kalamazoo…

Participant teams included long-time and brand new NTC partners from every corner of the country and from major urban, suburban, and rural districts, regional consortiums, and university-based teacher preparation programs.

  • 54 program leaders
  • 27 lead mentors/lead coaches
  • 10 mentors/coaches
  • 16 district leaders
Name tags on a black table

DAY 1 — Opening Dinner & Panel Discussion

A distinguished panel of our partners and NTC CEO Tommy Change led a conversation about…

  • What we want future learning experiences to look and feel like for the students we serve
  • Re-envisioning the role of teachers to better meet the needs of who our learners are and who they want to become 
  • Transforming educator support to evolve with a teacher over the course of their career from the moment they enter the profession to retirement  
  • Innovations we have implemented or have started dreaming about that might transform educator or student experiences
Panelists sitting in chairs on dais
Pictured left to right: NTC CEO Dr. Tommy Chang, Dr. Roxy Sánchez, Giancarlo Mercado, Kim Owen, and Tanya Mau


Cultivating social awareness and belonging in our role

After sharing personal mission stories in small groups, participants dug in with NTC facilitators Nicole Bronson and Jenn Iacovino. Discussion centered on creating inclusive spaces of belonging for our mentors/coaches, teachers, and students. This involves cultivating our ability to empathize with and seek to understand the perspectives of others from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Choice Sessions – A big hit!

Participants chose from a variety of sessions to collaborate with other programs and engage in small group work and time for reflection. As one participant reported, choice sessions offered fantastic opportunities for deep discussion and safe space to be imperfect and vulnerable.

  • The Connection Between Mindfulness and Disrupting Bias in Our Work
  • Leveraging the Optimal Learning Community (OLC) Continuum for Adult Learning
  • Leveraging PQS Data to Understand Impact and Make Strategic Decisions
  • Leading Work Focused on the Instructional Core
5+1 Impact Strategy

NTC’s Impact Team mapped out sources of evidence partners can access to demonstrate progress and the impact of their work.

Team Planning Time — A space for reflection

Dedicated time was threaded throughout the NPLN agenda for teams to debrief on what they had learned, make connections to their own contexts, and scope out next steps for application.

Group presentation with speaker
NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.
NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.
NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.
NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.
NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.


Thought Partnership in Teams and Networks — “The magic is in the protocol”

The morning opened with more opportunities for self-reflection using the Leadership Compass, with participants coming together in four corners of the room to discuss strengths and challenges associated with their dominant decision-making and work styles. 

  • North-Action
  • West-Analytical
  • East-Vision
  • South-Empathy

The rest of Day 3 was dedicated to collaborative problem-solving. First, teams met to prepare a problem of practice to share with thought partners. Then, networks of teams used several rounds of a rapid feedback protocol to unpack a problem, brainstorm solutions, and identify possible next steps.

Closing — How do you feel — heart, head, soul?

As participants prepared to head back home, they shared their feelings about the experience…

  • Inspired
  • Grateful
  • Full
  • Hopeful
  • Motivated
  • Not alone
Pearls of Wisdom from the Proceedings
  • “Kids come in with dreams we can’t see.”
  • “We have the choice to ‘crush’ or ‘cultivate’ a student’s potential.”
  • “We need to have the courage to be imperfect and lean into the luxury of not knowing.”
  • “Put on your trauma glasses. Instead of asking “what is wrong with ____?” ask “What happened to ____?”
  • “Given the decisions we make with limited information, it’s critical that we understand our potential for bias.”
  • “We are powerful. We shape this nation.”

We look forward to the next two NPLN sessions in January 2023 (virtual) and May 2023 (Denver, Colorado).

NPLN in NOLA — Our Purpose. Our Impact. Our Future.
NTC staff celebrate a year of NPLN learning to come.