Giving Compass' Take:

• Getting Smart reports on a recent conference that brought together educators from across the U.S. and Australia to discuss the power of collaboration within a wide network.

• How can the lessons learned here be applied in practical terms when it comes to education reform? Where could this energy best be directed?

• Here's more about what quality collective impact looks like.

More than 1,400 educators from more than 150 schools across the U.S. and from Australia braved a little July humidity in St. Louis to further activate their network of schools committed to powerful learning.

The New Tech Network is a group of 200+ predominately public district elementary and secondary schools committed to integrated team-taught project-based learning. The Network, formed in 2000 around the early success of Napa New Tech High, gathered at NTAC18 over the weekend.

Like me, these educators have concluded that extended community-connected challenges that result in public products are the best way to develop #FutureReady humans by building student agency and collaboration while teaching communication and project management skills.

Rather than kicking off with a keynote, the conference opened with a max mix design thinking exercise. It featured a tough challenge with inequitable resources, teams comprised of people who didn’t know each other, and a short timeline (all conditions pretty familiar to educators). It illustrated the conference theme — The Power of Us.

NTN CEO Lydia Dobyns explained that the theme was part of a three year arch to reconnect members of the network to a bigger aim ... This year’s, NTAC theme centered on members giving to, as well as receiving from, the network. Dobyns explained that by activating your network with contributions you almost always get back more than you gave.

The goal, said Dobyns, “is to become more than a 'knowledge ecosystem network' where our shared purpose, our reason to engage in network weaving, centers itself around closing the opportunity gap.”

Read the full article about the educator network powering projects by Tom Vander Ark at Getting Smart.