A learning-centered organization, as defined by the NTN Learning Organization Framework, identifies learning-centered structures as one of the three critical components for leading systemic, transformational change. NTN leaders reinforce a shared purpose by developing and maintaining structures that support an environment for each individual, both students and adults, to regularly experiences deeper learning that is authentic, active, relational, responsive and complex. Effective learning-centered leaders have a laser-focus on “outcomes that matter” so that they establish the structures that allow for their vision to be realized. These structures (processes, policies, practices) support inquiry-based professional growth and development that allows for reflective dialogue to allow for the continuous improvement of teaching and learning and the pursuit of justice and equity. Ultimately, learning-centered leaders create and sustain the conditions, systems, and structures for continued learning at every level of the school organization that are aligned to a common purpose.
- Identify and align processes, policies, and practices to support deeper learning for each learner.
In a learning-centered system, leaders identify and define student processes and policies to support the practices necessary for a learning-centered culture. Guided by growth mindset, processes and policies are designed to support students learning from mistakes, rather than resulting in immediate punishment for negative consequences. For example, student disciplinary structures are grounded in reflection and growth that are guided by living in the warm-demander stance. Another example, the student schedule is created with extended, often times interdisciplinary, learning blocks These extended learning blocks cultivate a learning community where students examine a problem deeply in a supported environment. Learning-centered leaders ensure all processes, policies, and practices support “deeper learning” for each learner.
- Incorporate regular adult learning time into the master schedule in order to support the implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).
Learning-centered systems provide adequate time and space for ongoing inquiry, reflection, and analysis by adults. Therefore, the master schedule creates time for adult Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). These learning communities are developed to support job-embedded communities of practice that use evidence (authentic data) and equity-based protocols to drive continuous learning about teaching practice that impacts student learning. Furthermore, adults are encouraged and supported to have opportunities to learn and reflect on practice within the school day by participating in classroom learning walks. By observing and discussing observed classroom practice, as well as analyzing and considering projects with student work, teachers have the predictable opportunity to use colleagues to support adult learning and ultimately, student growth.
- Collect and analyze data to inform decision-making.
When structures are in place that support Inquiry-Based Professional Growth & Development, learning-centered leaders can intentionally use data to inform decision-making. Adult learners use equity-based protocols and procedures to support adult learning through collaborative inquiry and analysis. Various kinds of data from across the school can be used to inform decisions about student and adult processes, policies and practices. For example, attendance data, disciplinary data, NTLO weights and results, and course enrollment can all provide early indicators into student success. Interpreting and understanding the data support meaningful and directed decision-making.
- Use a Cycle of Inquiry to identify a school wide focus for new learning.
Leaders build organizational coherence around achieving outcomes that matter for each learner. Being a learning organization means that a leader will organize learning around a particular purpose for a sustained period of time. Learning-centered leaders will determine logical next steps in a cycle of inquiry to extend and expand upon learning. By emphasizing the value of sustained focus on a learning goal that impacts student learning over time, a learning-centered leader is supporting adult and student growth. Learning-centered leaders analyze data to create strategy. They consider, what data is relevant to the focus selected and how does it shape your understanding of the challenge you selected? Then, through thoughtful analysis, learning-centered leaders determine what insights emerge and discuss them with relevant stakeholders. Finally, a learning-centered leader will collaboratively determine a strategy for next steps that specifically emerges from the results in a series of data that was analyzed in relationship to the identified focus.