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Heidi Payter, hpayter@fratelli.com, 202-822-9491
New TLA White Paper Offers K-12 Leaders Strategies for Leveraging Lessons Learned from Pandemic as New School Year Starts
First Companion Paper to “Hop, Skip, Leapfrog” Guide Advances Project to Identify, Codify, and Make Sense of School System Innovations that Have Emerged During Pandemic
August 18, 2021 – The Learning Accelerator (TLA) — the national nonprofit working to make the ‘potential’ possible and practical for every teacher and learner — today released the first companion paper to its “Hop, Skip, Leapfrog” research project that aims to identify, codify, and make sense of new school system strategies and capabilities that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The white paper, “Launching Forward: Leveraging Pandemic Innovations to Advance School Systems,” looks across school systems and experts to offer the K-12 sector strategies for implementing the innovations and lessons learned during the pandemic to advance greater equity, resiliency, and excellence for every child in every school.
“The pandemic has posed considerable hardship, but it’s also spurred learning and growth. School teams have persevered and innovated to continue delivering for students across the country,” said Beth Rabbitt, CEO of The Learning Accelerator. “‘Launching Forward’ builds on our ‘Hop, Skip, Leapfrog’ project by identifying the patterns across new strategies schools launched to help education leaders harness these developments to further advance excellence and equity in the new school year.”
Looking across systems and contexts, the white paper identifies five specific improvement and innovation “muscles” built over the course of the pandemic that K-12 leaders can leverage to expand new practices and build momentum and buy-in for advancing towards models of learning that effectively support every child, including:
1)    Teacher mindsets, skills, and readiness for innovation and change.
2)    Technology and materials infrastructure that spurs more efficient and quality-improving practices.
3)    Proactive district team habits creating greater agility, proximity, and trust across communities.
4)    Personalized educator learning models that target educator needs and build ongoing professional practice.
5)    Students’ readiness and skills for greater self-direction. 
The paper goes on to explore six high-potential practice areas where, through using and strengthening these new “muscles,” leaders can build on existing, concrete COVID-19 innovations to take bigger leaps for equity in the coming year:
1)    Adopting identity-affirming instructional approaches that flex to the unique needs of every learner.
2)    Implementing effective family engagement strategies.
3)    Pursuing whole child development to support students’ wellbeing and learning beyond academics. 
4)    Offering more flexible remote and hybrid school models for students and families.
5)    Pursuing innovative staffing models that expand teacher time and expertise for students with the highest needs.
6)    Working in partnership to design and adopt engaging, rigorous instructional materials that work in personalized and hybrid environments.
“Leadership teams are working in unique contexts, but our research with leaders across the country points to clear patterns of opportunity that can help build greater equity and resiliency. We hope these examples and resources will help educators identify and take concrete steps forward, wherever they are, learning from others and adapting ideas for their own schools and systems to get ahead of the new challenges they may face,” concluded Rabbitt.
In conjunction with the “Launching Forward” white paper, TLA will be releasing companion podcasts and expert blogs over the next several weeks. Three podcasts in the new “What Will We Take With Us?” series are already available, providing direct insight from district leaders that contributed to this project:
Read the “Launching Forward” white paper and review the “Hop, Skip, Leapfrog” guide here. To follow the release of the related materials, check out the TLA Blog and podcast.
The Learning Accelerator (TLA) is a national nonprofit that is working to make the ‘potential’ possible and practical for every teacher and learner. Underpinning TLA's work is a drive to ensure each student receives an effective, equitable, and engaging education that supports them to reach their full and unique potential. Our mission is to connect teachers and leaders with the knowledge, tools, and networks they need to transform K-12 education. TLA has mobilized to help school and district leaders navigate the shifts to remote and hybrid learning, as well as plan for long-term, resilient, and sustainable change beyond the COVID-19 era, through its Always Ready for Learning initiative, of which the Strategy Lab is a part. Learn more and find various free resources for teachers and leaders.
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