Massachusetts Workshops

Sense of Belonging Offerings

LearnLaunch is excited to partner with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to offer professional learning services focused on increasing students’ Sense of Belonging. Sense of Belonging is the feeling that one’s authentic self is seen, valued, affirmed, and connected by/to the school and district. When students feel a sense of belonging at school, they are more likely to engage deeply in the learning process. Sense of Belonging is intricately connected with many other areas, such as school culture, student engagement, positive relationships, and others.

Our offerings support Massachusetts districts and schools to work toward sense of belonging by tapping into three key practices: building relationships, valuing and affirming diverse identities, and creating opportunities for engagement.

Massachusetts Department of Education

Drop-In Workshops

LearnLaunch’s 2-hour drop-in workshops will support individual school and district leaders to think deeply about a topic related to sense of belonging. These workshops bring leaders together from across the state to learn from a leading expert on a topic and explore actionable steps that they can put into practice immediately.

Foster a Sense of Belonging: Creating Space for Difficult Conversations

Current events impact our students and their ability to engage fully in our classrooms. How do we cultivate spaces that enable students to talk about issues they see on the news? In this workshop educators and school & district leaders will learn how to prepare for these conversations through regular culture-building practices, build and hone the skills for facilitating difficult conversations – including navigating moments of discomfort, harmfulness, inaccuracies, and differences – and how to sustain a positive culture of inquiry after a class conversation, particularly those that involve heightened emotions and may result in additional stakeholders getting involved. This workshop will invite participants to practice engaging in difficult conversations with their colleagues, as this is an essential practice for educators striving to build cultures of care and generative discussion in their classrooms and schools.

Facilitated by Lindsay Lyons

Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.

Leveraging Student's Social Networks to Cultivate a Sense of Belonging

Student relationships – with their peers and with adults – are a vital component of feeling a sense of belonging at school. In order to facilitate this sense of belonging, schools and districts can foster students’ social networks. Schools that equitably integrate family members, community members, and industry experts into classrooms have immense potential to spark relevance and expand students’ long-term career horizons. In this free 2-hour virtual workshop, participants will learn about evidence-based practices and emerging tools that put broad and diverse networks within reach for their students.

Facilitated by Julia Freeland Fisher

Julia Freeland Fisher is the director of education research at the Clayton Christensen Institute. She leads a team that educates policymakers and community leaders on the power of disruptive innovation in the K-12 and higher education spheres through its research. Her team aims to transform monolithic, factory-model education systems into student-centered designs that educate every student successfully and enable each to realize his or her fullest potential. Julia is the author of Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students’ Networks (Wiley, 2018). The book focuses on emerging tools and practices that leverage technology to radically expand who students know – their stock of “social capital” – by enhancing their access to and ability to navigate new peer, mentor, and professional networks. She also served as an instructor in the Yale College Seminar Program. Julia holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a JD from Yale Law School.

Team Workshop Series

Over the course of the year we will be offering workshop series. Each series, consisting of two three-hour workshops, will offer guidance and support through planning, implementing, and evaluating interventions to foster students’ sense of belonging. Participating teams will work with a LearnLaunch facilitator in a highly facilitated environment.

Setting Priorities to Foster a Sense of Belonging

This free workshop is for district or school leadership teams who are interested in receiving individualized support to foster students’ sense of belonging in SY 22-23. Each series of two three-hour long workshops will provide participating teams with an understanding of sense of belonging, as well as with targeted support for building an action plan that addresses students’ sense of belonging moving into next school year.

Each participating team will work with a LearnLaunch facilitator to set a vision, craft a preliminary action plan, and set concrete, actionable steps for the school year.

Facilitated by Brian Fuller

Brian Fuller is an educational leader and strategist, with a passion for addressing the needs of historically underserved students, especially Black and Brown children. 

Brian launched the Philadelphia region of The DREAM Program, a youth development non-profit that serves children living in low-income housing across the city of Philadelphia. He also taught 3rd grade at Success Academy Charters in New York City, worked on the New York City Community Schools initiative, and was Chief of Staff to multiple senior leaders at the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE), including the Deputy Chancellor.

Most recently, he served as Chief Strategy Officer overseeing School Planning and Development at the NYC DOE implementing innovative initiatives that empower communities to create schools that positively impact 1.1 million students.

Professional Learning Networks

Our professional learning networks provide personalized support to district teams for the entirety of the school year. Participating teams attend cohort meetings to connect with one another, learn from each other, and delve deeply into the topic of student belonging. Teams also work 1:1 with a LearnLaunch coach to examine their practice and move toward their unique goals.

Sense of Belonging Prioritization and Implementation: Policies, Procedures, and Practices

This network will support district and school leaders to make changes on a high level to support students’ sense of belonging. Teams will audit existing systems and structures, identify areas of need, and create specific plans to use policies, processes, and systems to build stronger student belonging. This network is most appropriate for teams that are interested in examining district-wide policies, practices, and systems. This network will consist of up to 15 teams, made up of 6-8 members (district representatives and school leaders). The network will convene for cohort meetings 5 times over the course of the year (every other month), and will participate in a site visit two times over the year. Each team will appoint a team lead to engage in 1:1 coaching on a monthly basis with a LearnLaunch coach. Participation is free for all Massachusetts schools and districts.

Building a Sense of Belonging through Tier 1 Instruction: Instructional Practices and Classroom-Based Experiences

This network will support school teams, with district representation, to design relevant and inclusive learning experiences to foster students’ sense of belonging. Teams will examine instructional practices on a classroom and school level that support students’ sense of belonging. This network will consist of up to 15 teams, made up of 6-8 members (district representatives and school leaders). The network will convene for cohort meetings 5 times over the course of the year (every other month), and will participate in a site visit two times over the year. Each team will appoint a team lead to engage in 1:1 coaching on a monthly basis with a LearnLaunch coach. Participation is free for all Massachusetts schools and districts.