Back/2018: A Year to Remember for TLA

2018: A Year to Remember for TLA

by Michela Marini, Samantha Brumley on December 22 2018

The end of the year is a time when The Learning Accelerator team likes to step back and reflect on progress and accomplishments. Above all, we spend a lot of time evaluating how well we’re doing against our mission to ensure that teachers and leaders across the country have the knowledge, tools, and networks they need to support every child in their classrooms. At the same time, we deeply believe that how we work together as a team also matters. To that end, we wanted to take a moment to a share things that made 2018 an amazing year for TLA as a team.

Growing our team: we added new amazing leaders and welcomed Nithi Thomas and Nana Udoyen to our team and Gwen Baker to our Board of Directors, and are in the process of hiring a Research Analyst and a Managing Director of Programs. (We also got to welcome two new “extended” members with the arrival TLA Partners’ daughters, Fin and Emmy!)

Living our values: we adhered strongly to our value of fun and flexibility, making it possible for some of our team members to work from Hawaii, Colombia, and Italy, and found the time to belt our hearts out at karaoke, hit the floor for line dancing, and sing songs about cereal.

Extending our conversations to the Twitterverse: our Twitter followers grew to over 6,300, and we made new connections by participating in over 30 Twitter chats focusing on a variety of topics ranging from homework and professional learning to equity in schools.

Personalizing our learning and team building: we had two in-person team retreats, during which we visited two exemplary schools to see inspiring personalized learning practices in action. We hosted four “virtual offsites” – our all-hands virtual meetings where we focus on those meaty topics that need more than our weekly time together. We also launched what we called Deeper Learning Week, our own version of a “hackathon” in which our team members had the opportunity to dedicate one week of research and learning to personalize our own professional learning.

Walking the walk: we participated in the DEI Accelerator organized by Promise54 and have made a lot of progress in our initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ve defined our organizational DEI beliefs and have regular conversations within our team that challenge us and push us to work harder in this area.

Building networks: we launched the Innovation Directors Network to bring together system-level leaders to accelerate collective learning about the scaling of high-quality innovative practices nationwide, and we launched a second cohort of Measurement Fellows to support individuals conducting research that advances our measurement agenda.

Disseminating resources: our updated Blended & Personalized Learning At Work site received tens of thousands of visits from teachers and education leaders across the country, and we launched the Learning Commons, a shared space for connecting and accelerating educator learning. The TLA team members published nearly 50 blog posts on our BlendED Blog and external blogs and presented at nearly 20 conferences, trainings, and webinars across the country, from SXSWedu to iNACOL and NIEA. We produced resources for education leaders and educators alike, including Look Both Ways, a framework for system change, and our Problems of Practice series, which explores and proposes strategies for the challenges educators face.

Creating opportunities to work together, celebrating our achievements as a team, and seeing the impact our work has out in the world fostered even stronger connections within our team and reminded us of the important work we’re bringing forth through TLA’s mission.

Thank you for joining our journey in 2018, and we look forward to what 2019 has to bring!

About the Author

Michela Marini is Chief of Staff at The Learning Accelerator. Her work focuses on team culture, organizational management, and processes efficiency. Samantha Brumley is the Coordinator for Communications and Engagement at The Learning Accelerator, where she brings her background in psychology and communications to help maximize TLA’s reach and impact through thoughtful communications and engagement. Based in the Los Angeles area, Samantha has worked at various levels of the education field since 2006.