2021 NCTE Annual Convention

We’re presenting! Register for the 2021 NCTE Annual Convention to see us in action during our on-demand session. This year’s convention theme is ‘Equity, Justice and Antiracist Teaching’.

Session Title: Critical Literacy within a Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogical Framework

Presenter: Malika Ali, Managing Partner

Session Date: Thursday, November 18, 2021

2021 Achieving Excellence Together Conference

We’re presenting! Register for the Achieving Excellence Together Conference hosted by the Rhode Island Department of Education to see us in action in person during our Breakout Session.

Session Title: Centering On Instructional Equity

Presenter: Mike Miele, Partner

Session Date/Time: Saturday, November 6, 2021 at 8:45AM ET

2021 Aurora Institute Symposium

We’re presenting! Register for the Aurora Institute Symposium to see us in action during our Breakout Session.

Session Title: The Student Experience Survey: Actionable Data Connected to Culturally Responsive Teaching

Presenter: Karina Rodriguez, Senior Data Partner

Session Date/Time: Monday, October 25, 2021 at 3:40 PM ET

Leadership Roundtable

Presented by Highlander Institute: This conversation is geared toward all PK-12 school leaders and district administrators interested in discussing best practices as we begin the 2021-2022 school year. Register early and stay tuned for more information.

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week 2021

2021 Teacher Appreciation Week

Working to imagine and create more equitable, relevant, and effective schools would not be possible without teachers. For a Teacher Appreciation Week that falls during the most complex and challenging school year we've known, our team members reflected on what the teacher community means to them:

Malika Ali: "Teachers - we will never be able to enumerate all the ways in which you keep our society together. Teaching is the noblest profession and you all deserve gratitude in words and action. You deserve to be honored, supported, and compensated! To the teachers I have worked with, thank you for inspiring and motivating me daily. To the teachers in whose classrooms I defined my purpose, thank you for supporting my development. To the teachers I have yet to meet, thank you for changing lives everyday. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!"

Dana Borrelli-Murray: "To the seasoned and experienced educators that continue to show up and learn, shift and grow their practice - THANK YOU. We see you and appreciate the ways in which you model growth mindset for your students...and what a year it has been to model this skill :)"

Michaela Comella: "I have learned so much from the teachers I work with this year. They have modeled creativity, grace, vulnerability, problem solving, determination, and more. I thank them for moving forward when it seemed too difficult, putting in time they didn't have, always keeping their students at the forefront and expanding the boundaries of their classrooms. Teachers, you've taught us all so much - thank you!"

Christina Corser: "In a year when teachers have every excuse to put their heads down and survive, the innovation hasn't stopped. I am so appreciative of the learning we've done together this year. Thank you for your creativity and willingness to share."

Vera De Jesus: "To the pilot teachers at Tipton Middle School: I cannot thank you enough for the past two years of learning and growing together. Despite all the new, unique challenges of teaching in a pandemic, you never once gave up on finding creative ways to deeply understand your students and empower them as both learners and leaders. I appreciate the work you do every day that I don't always get to see, and I'm beyond grateful for the work that we carry together. You continue to be a source of hope and inspiration to me and to your colleagues!"

Cindy Kenney: "We've placed substitute teacher candidates across RI this year. To the teachers who have supported these subs as they transition into new & uncertain roles, THANK YOU. Your encouragement does not go unnoticed and has inspired many of these individuals to consider pathways to becoming certified teachers."

Maeve Murray: "One of the teachers I met with last week was so energized by a new idea, that she vowed to put it into practice with students the very next day. Thank you to all of the teachers who continue to lead with an approach centered around curiosity and possibility."

Nando Prudhomme: "Thank you to my pilot teachers at Baychester Middle School, who embrace any opportunity to learn. Despite obstacles and difficult times, I have been continually amazed at your eagerness to learn and apply new ideas to your teaching. You have shown incredible initiative and leadership skills."

Shawn Rubin: "Thank you to the teachers who are taking the extra time to collaborate with families as they navigate COVID-19. Nobody ever imagined that we'd be teaching through a pandemic, but this year teachers have proven they will do whatever it takes to support students and families. Thank you for being so adaptive, resourceful and strong when we needed you the most!"

Cathy Sanford: "I have such immense gratitude for the way that our teachers have shown up for students this year despite every challenge thrown their way. Thank you for demonstrating the importance of grit, persistence, and mindset for us and for your students."

Heidi Vazquez: "I have so much appreciation for all the laughs, creative problem solving, deep conversations, reflection, and meaningful lessons and projects we collaborated on via Zoom and Google Meet over the last year. Your successes with students and families have energized me and given me hope. Your dedication to your students and families impacts us all. Thank you!"

Please join us by celebrating, affirming, and thanking the teachers in your life. Check out the hashtags #TeacherAppreciationWeek and #ThankATeacher for more messages of inspiration, resilience, and hope.

Supporting Learning in a COVID World

It all happened very, very fast. COVID-19 rushed in and everything changed. 

Overnight, our personal and professional lens at Highlander Institute shifted from the usual wide scope of educational support to a laser focus on the acute needs of teachers and families. As our home state of RI rallied to boldly respond, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. 

Highlander Institute has had an internal mantra of “one foot in the classroom, one foot in the national conversation” for years. We have become a credible national thought partner because our ongoing work on the ground informs our intimate knowledge of the challenges, barriers, and successes that exist in all classrooms. Whether providing embedded coaching in classrooms and schools across the country, facilitating school redesign work, or training cohorts of teachers as change agents, our team has been in the field, combing the data for bright spots, trends, and gaps.  

This remained the case with our COVID-19 local response. One day after remote learning was mandated on March 23, our team developed and launched the RI Distance Learning Helpline, a free service to help RI teachers navigate the swift transition to virtual learning models, staffed by Fuse RI Fellow volunteers and our team members. This support was broadened to include families a few weeks later with the help of community partners the RightClick, libraries across the state, the RI Office of Innovation, the RI Parent Information Network, and the RI Department of Education.

Our quick response leveraged the extensive network of talented and innovative educators established through our Fuse RI Fellowship. Over the past 6 years, the Institute has trained over 100 RI educators as coaches and change agents. This network was well-positioned to support schools and districts through the transition to virtual learning; Fellows are able to address the myriad communication, logistical, and pedagogical challenges generated by this shift. 

The Helpline has become a goldmine for data, a bird’s-eye view into the true daily needs of families and educators across the state.  The Helpline cuts across geographic, socioeconomic, and linguistic barriers, elevating trends, identifying pain points, and providing essential information regarding the gaps in our state and district distance learning plans.  

To support ongoing continuous improvement efforts within distance learning implementation, we proudly announce the Distance Learning Spotlight Series. Starting June 1, Highlander Institute will regularly publish informational videos, articles, and other online media designed to provide an additional layer of support for everyone navigating this new educational space. The topics will be based on trends and gaps brought to light through the Helpline.  

The Distance Learning Spotlight Series is free and available to anyone, in both RI and beyond. While online resources cannot replace the value of customized, one-on-one coaching sessions found through the Helpline, we hope this series can be the beginning of a repository of information for educators,  leaders, and families as we continue to plan - amidst uncertainty - for the school year ahead.