The Learning Accelerator Blog/Cultivating Networks for Success and Scale: The Launch of TLA Network 2020

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Cultivating Networks for Success and Scale: The Launch of TLA Network 2020

by Beth Rabbitt on February 20 2020

As any school or system leader knows, the work of improvement and innovation can be hard and lonely stuff. Pursuing change to implement any approach requires significant focus and effort, leaving little time to seek and connect with others who may be tackling similar challenges.

It’s for this reason that networking leader learning has become a core part of The Learning Accelerator’s (TLA) strategy for supporting learning across the sector. Within these networks, there isn’t one right pathway—as school systems and service providers across the country all pursue solutions for age-old challenges, they make different choices based on local contexts, needs, and strengths. But at TLA we strongly believe that by building a shared understanding of divergent approaches, identifying emerging patterns and commonalities, and looking at evidence together, we can begin to converge upon a set of more generalizable practices and learnings that others can adapt and follow.

This notion of divergence, emergence, and convergence is why TLA launched our Innovation Directors Network in 2018. We brought together innovation leaders from across 18 school systems serving nearly a million students to talk about common problems of practice, explore pathways for change, share emerging solutions, and identify areas for collective action and engagement. This network helped TLA identify the most pressing challenges for our focus as well as launch new tools, such as our teacher onboarding guide.

We’ve been convening leaders in other areas as well, such as professional services (through the Innovative Learning Expert Hub), talent (in partnership with InnovateEDU), and measurement. Our efforts produced high engagement—100 percent of participants said they’d recommend the network to others—but we wondered how we could bridge learning across these traditional silos. We also wondered how we could help leaders more effectively move from learning to establishing concrete actions for driving change once they returned to their schools, districts, and organizations.

So as we kicked off planning for this year, we decided to test out a new approach: launching TLA Network 2020, a three-day event that brought together 13 district teams and 25 other leaders from the curriculum and professional services space. Organized into smaller “home bases” that helped build trust and connection, teams dug into their own problems of practice through a variety of formats, sharing strategies and challenges. They developed plans for action and worked with our team to identify opportunities for future change within the network and the broader field.

Learn more about the agenda for the event here. Over the next few weeks, we’re excited to be sharing out some of the ideas and learnings from TLA Network 2020. We’ll be doing our best to curate the many resources identified by participants, summarize conversations, and surface the biggest problems for action. Follow TLA on Twitter @LearningAccel, and peruse our convening hashtag, #TLANetwork2020, to catch up on some of the highlights from the event.

About the Author

Beth Rabbitt is CEO of The Learning Accelerator and a nationally recognized expert in education innovation and blended and personalized learning.