Principles of a NIC

For our project, crafting coherence among a networked improvement community (NIC) involves a process of several groups working collaboratively to support student learning through the implementation of the NGSS.  Given the challenges and opportunities of this work, a transformative project was envisioned to further develop and research a multi-level, multi-directional learning and innovation NIC. This NIC has emerged out of initial concentrated and strategic planning to collaborate with connected working groups at multiple levels across the complex local, regional, and a national education system that can learn with and from one another through applying NIC principles in context-specific ways.

Bryk, Gomez, Grunow, LeMahieu (2015) suggest the following four principles of a NIC.  Each principle is followed by brief statements of how it relates to this project.

(1) A well-specified common aim 

Implementation of NGSS to support transformative and equitable STEM teaching and learning that differs greatly from the historical types of classroom instruction and participation structures that have been found in U.S. classrooms.

(2) Deep understanding of the problem, the system that produces it, and shared working theory to improve it;

Across the NIC groups, we have begun to exam the experiences, foci, and challenges of the different NIC members within the working groups (e.g., mentor teachers classrooms, district partner classrooms) and working groups to determine what is working or not working for whom and for what reasons across the different contexts in the NIC.

(3) Drawing on methods of improvement research to develop, test, and refine interventions

Part of the work of the NIC is to consider how local conditions are leading to variations in implementation and ways that knowledge might productively be codified and inscribed in NIC developed, adopted, or adapted tools so that NGSS implementation can be supported, proceed, and collaboratively refined across diverse the diverse settings.

(4) Organized to accelerate interventions and effectively integrate them into varied educational contexts

We work to draw on the wisdom that emerges from the crowd (i.e., across the NIC groups). In this, innovative strategies that emerge connected to bigger problems (e.g., supporting teacher practice) can be capitalized on by the entire network as it becomes clear that the innovation has been shown to be beneficial in terms of supporting teacher practice and student learning.