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Support for Continuity of Learning Plans

Blueprint Bulletin – Special Edition

Successful organizations understand the importance of implementation, not just strategy, and, moreover, recognize the crucial role of their people in this process.”

~ Jeffrey Pfeffer

Earlier this week we shared with you the concept of Small System Cycles or the Input-Process-Output-Feedback model. Now let’s apply this concept to monitor your Continuity of Learning Plan. Why are we suggesting this?  You have heard it before and most likely have lived it before, a plan means nothing if it is not implemented well.  

One function of the IPOF model is to clearly articulate actions for district leaders, building leaders, district and building networks, and teachers to achieve specific results. Your Continuity of Learning Plan includes expectations for staying connected with students and families, engaging students in continued learning, communicating effectively with students and families, checking on the well-being of students and staff, and providing meals to students in need. All of these components of the plan require specific actions by people within your district to make sure things are happening as intended. So, how will you know that things are running as intended? And how will you know when something needs to be adjusted? You will know by monitoring the actions, collecting the data that shows you what is happening, analyzing what the data is telling you, and allowing you to adjust as necessary. 

In this new era of remote learning via print media, mixed media, or digital media, now more than ever you need to be monitoring the implementation of the plan you have set forth. There is more than one way to monitor how your plan gets implemented and how to track if you are achieving the desired results. The key is to have a strategy to monitor and adjust your plan as you go.  The  IPOF model is one simple way you might consider to help you manage all aspects of your current plan.

Leader’s Corner

“Have a bias towards action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.”

~Indira Gandhi

One aspect of your Continuity of Learning Plan you may want to monitor early is your strategy for communication.  We have created an example for how one district, Pleasant Valley Public Schools, has used the IPOF model to document how they will monitor their communication during the coming weeks. Before you jump into the example, think about the importance of monitoring your communication strategy. With all the changes going on in how you operate on a day-to-day basis it would be easy to miss a few things. One thing you don’t want to miss is the opportunity to clearly communicate your plan to teachers, leaders, and the community.    

In the Pleasant Valley Public Schools Communication example below, the first table shows the Input, Process, and Output originally planned and the second table includes the Feedback consisting of both the data and the decisions made to adjust their process based on the analysis of the data they collected during the first week. 

Click here for an Example 

As you read through this example, what did you notice?  You may have noticed: 

  • The simplicity of this plan.  It’s not a 20-page document with every little detail explained.
  • The processes are around adult actions defined by roles.
  • The output goals are measurable and short term. 
  • The data was collected and monitored for each defined output. 
  • Pleasant Valley Public Schools monitored their plan and used the information collected as feedback to identify additional steps that would move them closer to their desired results.  

What wonderings did you have? You may have wondered: 

  • Who tracks this progress and collects the data?   
  • What will the next iteration’s data show based on this iteration’s feedback?  
  • How many small system cycles will a district or school have at one time?  

Using the Small Systems Cycle (IPOF model) to monitor your plan puts you in the driver seat. You determine the answers to the questions sparked by reviewing this example. Collecting and analyzing the data early and often will help you stay on top of issues that arise and allows you to provide needed support to teachers, students, and families. This brings us back to the question of the day, how will you know if your plan is achieving the results you intend? No matter what tool you use, commit to monitoring your plan. As you navigate the next few weeks you will learn what works and what doesn’t work well for your staff and students. Be prepared to modify and adjust for a better chance of success!

Teacher’s Corner

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

~ Peter Drucker 

You have been provided expectations by your district including connecting with students to check on their well-being, engaging students in learning, and providing alternative learning activities for the remainder of the school year. While all of these are important, remember that the health and well-being of your students should be at the forefront of your mind during this difficult time. Connecting with students and showing that you care about them and their families can make a world of difference. 

As you and your colleagues begin to implement your plans to stay connected with students and engage them in learning, you might consider using the IPOF model to track the implementation of district expectations as a building team.  We have created an example of how one district, Pleasant Valley Public Schools, includes principals, classroom teachers, interventionists, special education teachers, and support team members working together to monitor the implementation of the Continuity of Learning Plan. You may not all be in the same building right now but you are on the same team working to support your students at home. 

In the Pleasant Valley Public Schools Student Engagement example below, the first table shows the Input, Process, and Output originally planned and the second table includes the Feedback, consisting of both the data collected and the decisions made, to adjust the processes based on the analysis of the data collected during the first two weeks of implementation.  

Click here for an Example

As you read through this example, what did you notice?  You may have noticed: 

  • The simplicity of this plan.  It’s not a 20-page document with every little detail explained.
  • The processes are around adult actions defined by roles.
  • The output goals are measurable and short term. 
  • The data was collected and monitored for each defined output. 
  • Pleasant Valley Public Schools monitored their plan and used the information collected to identify additional steps that would move them closer to their desired results.  

What wonderings did you have? You may have wondered: 

  • Who tracks this progress and collects the data?   
  • What will the next iteration’s data show based on this iteration’s feedback?  
  • How many small system cycles will a district or school have at one time?  

Using the Small Systems Cycle (IPOF model) to monitor provides you with the opportunity to make the needed adjustments quickly based on the data you collect. This will help you stay on top of any issues that arise and allows you to provide needed support to students and families as quickly as possible. Checking in on the well-being of your students and engaging them in learning is vital during this time. As you and your colleagues work together to stay connected and provide learning experiences for students, be prepared to adjust as you go. This is new territory for everyone, we all have lots to learn. 

Everyone has a part to play in this new remote learning environment as shown by the two examples provided. No one person can carry the burden alone. Connect with your colleagues, share ideas, and talk about ways you might need to adjust what you are doing to reach your students. Take time to form your own support system so you feel that you are working together towards a common goal. Your students need you! 

We want to leave you with two words . . . gratitude and grace. 

Please know that you are appreciated beyond measure. You are stepping out of the norm in how students and staff are supported. You are taking risks, failing forward, and trying again. You are being humble and asking questions and networking with your peers. You are maintaining high expectations while having patience and meeting each person where they are in this process. For this, there is much gratitude and grace. Thank you.