WASHINGTON, DC – "The FrameWorks Institute has fueled a sea change in the way the National Council of Teachers of English communicates about its work. As a 100-year-old organization rooted in activism and the power of language we have always been thoughtful about our words, but the strategies FrameWorks introduced us to give us new ways to ensure those words can lead to change.  

This is how we came to appreciate what FrameWorks brings to the education sector.

A few years ago NCTE had an epiphany: What happens outside a teacher’s classroom has a tremendous effect on what she’s able to do inside her classroom. Thriving schools are those where the entire community sees literacy teaching and learning as its job and contributes to its ongoing improvement.  So if we want to improve education nationwide we need to focus on capacity building at all levels. This made sense to us, it was a departure from our “champion the excellent English teacher” approach but it was a necessary shift if we wanted all teachers and students to be successful. So we started a project called the National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE) and invited 30 other national education organizations to help us shine a light on this discovery.

The only problem was, while this systems-based understanding of how education works (and doesn’t) was clear to us – we quickly discovered that it made little sense to the world beyond our offices. In fact, it flew in the face of the most prevalent approaches to education reform. So, we did a study. NCLE stakeholders surveyed their national networks to get a picture of what support for literacy learning outside the classroom currently looks like.  The data supported our theory, but we still didn’t know how to talk about it.

Enter the FrameWorks Institute. FrameWorks helped us to write a report called “Remodeling Literacy Learning: Making Room for What Works” and through training and support suddenly we had a compelling way to tell this story. Using the remodeling metaphor, we were able to provide our audience with a clear and nonthreatening alternative to the slash and burn imagery so prevalent in reports about “fixing the broken system.” The report championed the tested values ofworkforce preparednesspragmatism, and progress that took us out of the swamp of fear about dismal test scores and instead framed a hopeful set of recommendations for what schools and districts could do to improve literacy learning conditions. This report was followed by another with a focus on Common Core standards implementation. With ongoing help from FrameWorks, both have provided the NCLE community with a solid foundation upon which to build ongoing conversations and initiatives.

We use the FrameWorks materials and ideas all the time now. It’s not uncommon for someone to write a piece and get feedback from an editor that says something like, “This seems a little rhetorical in tone, aren’t we supposed to avoid that?” or “Why don’t you use a tested metaphor here instead of making this one up – wouldn’t remodeling work?” 

While we are building our framing fluency, it sometimes feels like we still need a lot of help. Once you begin to think about framing it feels a bit like learning to speak all over again.

The real benefit of working with the FrameWorks team is their deep expertise in this arena and the incredible facility with which they can look at your version of a message through the lens of all the research they have conducted over time. Their staff has a wonderful way of showing you where a small tweak can make a big difference – you keep your idea, but communicate it in a way that will actually enable it to be heard."

— Jenna Fournel, Communications and Alliance Strategist at National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)