For nearly 15 years, Remake Learning has brought together thousands of educators for the purpose of making learning more relevant, equitable, and engaging. Often, our work appears very outward-facing. We look at questions like: How can we make high-quality STEAM more accessible for students of color? How can we make maker learning more culturally relevant? How can we work across sectors to build more inclusive computer science career pathways?
But the goal of external transformation often begins with important internal work. This is the foundation upon which all networks are built, including Remake Learning.
As a Research Fellow at Remake Learning and a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, I’ve worked with Dr. Tom Akiva and a team of interviewers to explore how network engagement affects educators. From September 2019 through June 2020, we met with approximately 100 Remake Learning members to explore our own line of internal inquiry, asking: “How has participating in the Remake Learning network impacted you?”
The answers have helped us better define our network and measure its impact from the inside-out.
Our three key findings show that:
- Members find deep importance in Remake Learning’s celebration of educators
- Members define Remake Learning as a network of professionals learning together
- Members consider Remake Learning a vehicle for advancing equity
Importantly, this research also shows that network impact is shaped by how deeply members engage with the network. Let’s delve deeper into each of these findings and the ways they can help you maximize your membership in the Remake Learning network.
“One of the biggest [benefits] is really the network itself…being able to connect with other individuals who share similar passion.”
Remake Learning celebrates educators.
Educators said they feel celebrated and validated in their work by participating in annual network events, like the Network Assembly, and ongoing convenings. Sometimes, these events are the only source of celebration or validation for their career choice and play an important role in combating feelings of professional isolation. The interviews showed that celebration and validation of career choice are the most commonly described impacts of engagement for educators who have less than three years of network experience.
According to an out-of-school time educator:
“My own family members didn’t understand [my career], like that’s not a real job. Just having that community that you’re part of, where you can share your experiences. It validates your work. I’m going to keep walking this path.”
Remake Learning is a network of professionals learning together.
Participating in Remake Learning Meetups and Lunch & Learns, such as Empowered Educators or Race in Rural Spaces, and Remake Learning working groups, including CSforPGH, the Pittsburgh Regional STE(A)M Ecosystem, and others, help members build their professional network. Taken over time, this shared learning and supportive environment were shown to help educators define or reinforce their professional identity. Across our interviews, knowledge sharing and professional identity development were identified as the main impacts of network engagement among educators with 3-5 years of network experience.
In the words of one in-school educator:
“I think one of the biggest [benefits] is really the network itself…being able to connect with other individuals who share similar passion, who are doing similar work, whose work complements and potentially enhances the work that we’re doing, and even more so thinking about how I could also be a resource to others.”
Remake Learning is a vehicle for advancing equity.
Members who are most deeply involved in the network—including those in a working group or those who have logged several years of engagement—described advancing equity in education as the main impact of their participation.
For some members, participation helped them think more explicitly and critically about equity in education, which is an important first step to deeper, transformative equity work.
“Just having that community that you’re part of, where you can share your experiences. It validates your work.”
In addition, Remake Learning provides grants and professional development opportunities for educators to further equity in their fields. Our recently announced Moonshot Grants will give preference to project proposals that prioritize equity and justice, including those that focus on serving learners of color, learners with disabilities, rural learners, learners in poverty, and girls in STEM.
Through our research, we’ve learned that engagement with Remake Learning offers something different to everyone. Importantly, we’ve also learned that network impact is shaped by how deeply members engage with the network. Whether you are looking to grow your professional network, advance equity in education, celebrate with other educators, or engage in each of these opportunities, there is a place for you in the Remake Learning network.
If you’re looking to start (or restart!) your involvement with the network, here are a few resources you can tap into:
- For networking and learning: Check out our membership directory for information on over 1,000 people, organizations, and projects who are active in the greater Pittsburgh learning community. It’s totally free to access!
- For celebration: Visit our Meetups and Lunch & Learns page to see upcoming network events, or visit our public calendar to browse a range of educator events hosted by our members, partners, and friends.
- For deeper engagement and equity work: Learn more about each of Remake Learning’s working groups and sign-up for their newsletters. Also, check out the collaborative project Shifting Power in Educational R&D.
Author: Erin Gatz, Remake Learning Research Fellow