Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Action plans grow out of Day 3 Stakeholders Meeting

The program audit of Integrated Student Support is moving ahead. The latest step in this complex process was the Stakeholder’s Meeting Day 3, held Friday, Feb. 19, 2010.

I opened the meeting with comments intended to set a tone for open-mindedness and collaboration. And to recognize ourselves as change agents.

This effort has been a journey of collecting information, collaborating with partners and thinking about our future as a community of people striving to educate children.

This is hard work that will require tolerance, patience and, most of all, the ability to see things through the eyes of our teammates.

A great leader in teamwork and collaboration is author Stephen Covey. He inspires his audience to practice skills that truly enable people to work together in the right direction, toward a common vision with positive outcomes.

Dr. Covey reminds us that each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective.

But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or as we are conditioned to see it. He also says effective people are not problem-minded they’re opportunity minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems. Isn’t that GREAT!

Focusing on Chosen Theme
We moved on to a presentation from a panel of people representing resources within the community and available for parents.

Panel members were: Margaret Brayden, Executive Director, Multnomah County National Alliance on Mental Illness Oregon (NAMI Oregon); Jenna Brandse, Board Member, Northwest Down Syndrome Association (NWDSA); Shiela Warren, PPS Parent Union; Victoria Haight, Regional Trainer, Oregon Parent Training and Information Center (OrPTI); Anne Saracino, Swindell’s Center /Child Disability Resources; and Dawn Macready-Santos, Oregon Families Information Referral Services (OrFIRST).

Facilitator Kenneth Jones shifted gears and informed the group of approximately 80 people representing various stakeholder groups, (educators, specialists, parents, community partners and others) of the goal for the day.

The goal: Create an action plan for the recommendations that grew out of work accomplished at Day 1 and Day 2 of the stakeholder meetings, which were held in December.

Stakeholders sat at tables grouped according to their preference of a topic. Prior to the meeting, participants chose which of the 15 themes they most would like to address in the action-planning process.

The themes are grouped under three categories. They are as follows:

Time to collaborate with all partners (tables A & B addressed this topic)
Team & Co-teaching (table)
Training/Joint Professional Development (table D)
Access to LRE in Neighborhood Schools (table E)
Continuum of Services in Each Cluster (tables F, G, & H)
Equity in Staffing Based on Needs (table I)
Clear Entry and Exit Criteria (table J)
Vocational Options & Transition (table K)
Special Ed Curriculum & Materials (table L)
Building-wide RTI (academic) (table M)
Building-wide RTI (behavior) (table N)

Before anyone started working, however, we covered a few areas of business.

Our researcher Pat Steinburg and data guru Gary Obermeyer talked about their processes of information-gathering and data crunching. Look for more information from each of them that aims to shed more light on methods used to winnow data and focus on the above-mentioned themes.

Gary created a website that houses a significant amount of the data, as well as work generated at the stakeholder meetings. The website currently is available only for stakeholders. Eventually it will be open to everyone. Meantime, if you have any questions or would like to see information that is part of this program audit, please let me know. We will do our best to facilitate your request.

A theme not reflected in our work thus far is communication. Based on surveys of stakeholders leading up to Day 3, there is a need for action-planning that incorporates communication. In order for stakeholder recommendations to be implemented effectively, communication needs to be built into the process.

We had time for questions. The first was “How will these measures be implemented”? District leadership must give the green light, then stakeholders will be called upon to head-up action groups.

Another person wanted to know how concerns will be addressed that are not part of the Stakeholder process (data pertaining to ELL, diverse students and other areas not reflected in Pat’s information-gathering process). ISS Assistant Director Jennifer Jackson, Chief Academic Officer Xavier Botana and I are addressing this.

Kenneth made the point that the program review and the work being put into it at the stakeholder meetings actually is improving the ability of ISS to get better at addressing concerns.

Another person noted that few general education teachers attended the stakeholder meetings and wanted to know how to improve the showing of general education teachers. Kenneth suggested participants incorporate that goal into their action plans.

Identifying the Problems
Then it was time to get to work.

Kenneth gave the first assignment—Problem Statement Development.

He suggested each group start by reaching agreement on the problem that would be solved if and when an action plan is put into place for each recommendation.

Each table team had about an hour to identify problems associated with their issues. Kenneth requested that a couple of tables relay the problems they identified. His purpose was to demonstrate for everyone how the “problem” should be articulated.

For instance, one table presented its problem as a lack of “initial and new hire training. And that available training does not address the needs of workers. There is a lack of coordination and implementation of the training.”

Kenneth noted that the statement needed to identify a problem. “Those are great statements but what it says is ‘here is a lack of something, there is a lack of something. You need to say what problem would be solved.”

The group easily clarified its message by saying that students suffer because of inadequate training.

Identifying each problem that the recommendations and action plan aim to solve will be helpful in subsequent work, when leadership of the ISS program seeks support from district decision-makers.

Creating a Course of Action
The second assignment was for each group to brainstorm actions needed for each recommendation. Kenneth said to include actions that exist and those that need to be established.

For instance, the two tables focused on “time to collaborate with all partners” had five recommendations to work with. The one that received the most support in the voting phase of the Day 2 meeting is “Provide dedicated collaboration time for general education teachers, special education teachers, itinerants, paraeducators, ELL and TAG.

Presumably that would’ve been the first recommendation addressed by tables A & B.

The third assignment was for each table team to chart their action items for each recommendation according to existing, not existing, within my control and out of my control.

“A Tuning Protocol”
The final component of the day was for groups to pair up and present their action plans. The purpose was to provide and receive warm and cool feedback.

Kenneth emphasized that conversations with clarifying questions for each group and feedback that was neither critical nor complimentary would reveal areas of disconnects, gaps, dilemmas or other weaknesses.

In closing, I reminded stakeholders that the success of our program review is dependent upon their continued participation.

In April, I expect to have an answer from district leadership in regard to how this work will move forward. Meantime, stay tuned for updates on this blog.

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