While CTQ has been working with teachers for two decades to inspire improvements for teaching and learning through a variety of influential reports and recommendations, achieving those aspirations would not happen without the direct engagement of educators in the systems with which they worked. Capturing the attention of a school system’s leader with a new vision for teacher leadership is one thing; bringing such a vision to life with teachers in that system is quite another. Imagining personalized, competency-based professional learning is exciting; designing and implementing such a system is transformative. Supporting transitions to online learning for students is helpful; building district capacity to ensure effective, engaging online professional learning for educators pays dividends for years.

Such ambitious goals launched initial conversations about creating a “talent cloud” which eventually became the CCIT (Cultivating Communities of Impact Team). The team includes a group of educators from across the country who collectively represent decades of K-12 and higher ed teaching, leadership, and facilitation experience. 

Serving in dual roles in their respective schools, districts, and other education spaces, each team member also contracts with CTQ to share and scale expertise in areas ranging from formative assessment, to culturally responsive teaching, to social-emotional tools and supports for adults and the students they serve. 

Our team’s norming, collaboration, and initial lessons learned offer a model for the field. As the work in education becomes increasingly complex, educators can lean on partners outside of their buildings, organizations, and timezones to solve problems of practice and participate in real-time personalized professional learning. 

So, what have we learned so far?

Start with analysis and reflection.

Most continuous improvement processes start with some version of planning, followed by action, and end with a review or reflection that launches the next round of planning, action, and post mortem. CCIT is reversing that cycle. We are planning for analytical and authentic reflection before we consider planning for action. We recognize the unique strengths each of us brings to this work, as well as a number of opportunities for growth that we share. By starting with analysis and reflection, we ensure that the lessons we’ve learned or are in the process of learning aren’t put on hold until the end of the session, project, or event. Leading with analysis and reflection creates a culture of authentic and fluid continuous improvement. 

Focus on the process and the outcomes will take care of themselves. 

Too often in education we are encouraged to focus on lofty goals that tend to be abstract and future-oriented, rather than on authentic, immediately accessible goals. We ask students to be present with their focus and attention, while also asking that they keep end-of-year exams in the forefront of their minds. Frequently, the relevant learning of this moment isn’t connected to the next step or series of steps that leads to the final outcome. CCIT is taking a different approach.

We are focusing heavily on processes for engaging with one another from a variety of locations. We are identifying strengths and growth opportunities before thinking about specific projects or outcomes. We are focused on performing the existing current action at a high level in order to be our best in the present moment. In short, we are being mindful. 

Center equity in every conversation. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) sit intentionally and visibly at the forefront of every team conversation and serve as a primary lens anchoring all planning, facilitation, data gathering, and reflection work. While the team’s collective and individual journeys with respect to equity are in different places, there is shared agreement across the team that explicit conversations about our own identities, privilege, biases, and the demographics of the communities we serve and colleagues we actively seek to recruit and retain in the field must be the lead question until internalized and actualized, both within the team itself and across the field as a whole. 

Our initial work is grounded in CTQ’s DEI commitment and our working norms as a team. These norms include maintaining confidentiality, staying present, leading with curiosity, discussing ideas (not people), and preparing for reflection. While the team is a safe space to share ideas, there is an expectation to learn, grow, reflect, and continue to develop interpersonal and professional skills that deepen our individual and shared understandings of DEI issues. We know we cannot become the culturally responsive educators we want to be without mirroring this work in our learning with other adults. 

Our team’s journey is just beginning and will evolve and expand over time. Look for more reflections and key learnings in the weeks ahead and reach out to CTQ if you’re interested in learning more or joining and collectively leading a community of impact.

Share this post: