“Improvement usually means doing something we have never done before.”~ Shigeo Shingo
Lions, Tigers, and Bears . . . Oh My! might bring curiosity, anxiety, and strategic thinking. Or, might it be said, Leadership, Instructional Infrastructure, and Student Support . . . Oh My! could spark the same emotions.
The Virtual Blueprint Institute (VBPI) had over 300 registrants representing 54 districts, ISD/RESAs, and state organizations. The Institute opened with a plenary session, Identity, Improvement, and Interconnectedness, where districts were encouraged to forge and communicate a new identity after the disruption caused by prolonged school closure. The importance of the interconnectedness of educators, students, parents, and communities is key to success in schools. The message that rang throughout this opening session was that each of us has the opportunity to choose how to face the unknowns of the upcoming school year . . . from a place of hope or a place of fear. Attendees were encouraged to choose hope and to adopt a “we can and we will do this together” mindset.
Our intent with this issue of the Blueprint Bulletin is to encourage those who attended the institute to move to action; for those who weren’t able to join us, please connect with your SWFT facilitator to determine how s/he can support you and your district by embedding the learning around leadership, instructional infrastructure, and student support as your district builds and strengthens these areas. As you read through the next sections of this bulletin, you are encouraged to assess where you are in your thinking and actions and determine the next steps you will take to turn theory into action.
“Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing ‘patterns of change’ rather than static ‘snapshots’”.~ Peter Senge
How might Leadership, Instructional Infrastructure, and Student Support interconnect? As you continue to deepen your understanding of the Blueprint Framework, the more you’ll discover the interconnectedness amongst the various Blueprint components. When reading through the outcomes of each of the tracks, challenge yourself to make those connections; for example, what connections might you make between student support, high-quality instruction, and teacher collaboration? How might leadership impact the outer ring and the communications driver system?
Below is a summary of the outcomes for each of the Institute tracks . . .
Leadership – The Leadership track at the VBPI focused on:
- Culture and Communication ~ exploring the relationship between communication, culture, and performance in the continuous improvement process
- Leading Sustainable Change ~ exploring the purposeful practices to build collective efficacy through high-impact structures and actions to sustain change
- Performance Management – Developing a Data-Driven Decision-Making Culture ~ examining what performance management looks and sounds like and exploring structures and processes that allow teams to identify barriers, problem-solve around challenges, and determine decisions based on data to improve teaching and learning
Superintendent of Eastpointe Community Schools, Ryan McLeod, participated in a panel discussion within the Leadership track. He shared this feedback, “I so appreciated being a small part of the important work you are continuing to do in Michigan. I have received emails and feedback from some of the attendees at the session I was part of. The positive notes really feel good. They are much needed during this unique time and have really given me a lift. Also, the general theme of the whole conference was uplifting and encouraging. Exactly what our educators need this year!” Superintendent McLeod’s message is important for all of you to hear. You do need to be lifted up and encouraged as you forge into a new school year.
Instructional Infrastructure – The Instructional Infrastructure track focused on:
- Instructional Infrastructure: What’s Essential ~ developing an understanding of how a guaranteed and viable curriculum, through the identification of essential standards, learning targets, proficiency scales, common assessments, and pacing, effectively creates the foundation for high-quality instruction to occur
- Instructional Infrastructure: How Do I Deliver a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum? ~ exploring instructional models and monitoring tools that align to content-specific teacher and student actions
- Teacher Collective Efficacy and a Culture of Collaboration ~ exploring the purposeful practices that teacher teams engage in to create collective teacher efficacy to best support improved learning outcomes for students as well as the structures that make these practices happen on a daily basis
Student Support – The Student Support track focused on:
- Intense Student Support Vision . . . Now What? ~ exploring how the vision drives what data might be collected to support putting structures in place
- Using the Blueprint Framework to Support the Whole Child ~ using the WSCC Model framework to identify the district and building structures that are needed to support the social, emotional, and academic growth of students
- Implementing District and Schoolwide Social Emotional Learning ~ understanding the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for staff and students while exploring CASEL’s resources for high-quality systemic implementation of SEL as well as finding practical ways to make our state-adopted SEL competencies an integral part of every student’s education
The leader and teacher corner sections of this bulletin will support you in reflecting on what actions to take as it relates to your role around leadership, instructional infrastructure, and student support.
As a reflective leader, you constantly assess, analyze, adjust, and take action. When reflecting on the Blueprint systems that you have installed (or will be installing), take a moment to identify some next steps for you and your district. We’ve listed a few reflective questions which may guide you in determining next steps for you to consider.
- How effective is your communication system in creating and encouraging a positive culture? How might you know? What is your evidence?
- Do you know where your strengths lie in communication? Do you know where you need to grow in communication?
- What have been some successful ways you promote meaningful collaboration? What might be some next steps to promote meaningful collaboration?
- What have been some successful ways you foster collective efficacy in your school or district? How might you expand opportunities to foster collective efficacy?
- Continuous Improvement:
- What are 2-3 academic goals? Where is your district/school now? What do you need to do to get where you need to be?
- What are two main non-academic barriers that are impeding your students’ success? What will you do to remove these barriers? What are the non-academic goals?
- What actions are connected to achieving these goals? What actions will produce tangible, measurable outcomes?
- What strategies/practices are going to move you toward meeting your established goals?
- What data will your teams review and analyze to measure progress?
- What will be indicators of progress? How much progress will you make toward the goal? By when?
- How will you communicate your progress and/or adjustments?
Instructional Infrastructure –
- Guaranteed Curriculum – Are all students learning the same content regardless of teacher or school? Are all students assessed using the same criteria for proficiency? What might be your next steps in creating, implementing, and/or monitoring a guaranteed curriculum?
- Viable Curriculum – Are all students provided with extra time to learn and demonstrate proficiency inside of essential standards? Are all students given opportunities for extended learning when they demonstrate proficiency inside of essential learning targets? What might be your next steps in creating, implementing, and/or monitoring a viable curriculum?
- Has your district identified an instructional model for delivery of instruction to help you achieve a guaranteed and viable curriculum? What is working well? What might need to be adjusted?
- Teacher Teams – Are teacher teams focused on the right work? Are teams organized in a way that makes sense? Is there a process in place to monitor and support the work of teams? What might be your next steps in creating, implementing, and/or monitoring teacher teams? Is collective teacher efficacy increasing within your teams, school, and district?
Student Support –
- How does your district identify the needs of each student? What data & information is collected?
- What have been some successful ways your district has worked to meet the non-academic needs of each student (health, nutrition, behavior, social emotional)?
- What are some successful ways your district has created a system of network delivery?
- What might your district need to improve upon to meet the needs of each student?
- What indicator(s) is your district already doing that aligns to the five tenets of Whole Child (healthy, safe, engaged, supported, challenged)? What indicator(s) might be a priority?
- What actions might you take to support your district’s next steps related to the WSCC tenets and indicators?
- What are some successful strategies for implementing district and schoolwide SEL (social-emotional learning) for staff and students?
- What role does the district play in . . .
- building the foundational support for SEL?
- strengthening adult SEL competencies and capacity?
- promoting SEL for students?
- engaging in continuous improvement?
- What actions might you take to support your district’s next steps for implementing district and schoolwide SEL for staff and students?
Being flexible and adaptive to meet the needs of learners is critical each and every day whether or not there’s a pandemic. Additional questions for you to ponder . . .
- As you implement and monitor your Return to Learn COVID-19 Preparedness Plan (input), how might iterative/system cycles be used to inform just-in-time next steps?
- What are you trying to accomplish? What are the desired output(s)?
- What process(es) and adult actions need to be in place to achieve the desired output(s)?
- What data will be used to progress monitor and/or problem-solve?
- What feedback will be communicated to inform the district, building(s), and community? We invite you to use this Action Plan Template for you and your teams to think through.
“When teams of educators believe they have the ability to make a difference, exciting things can happen in a school.”~ J. Donohoo, J. Hattie, & R. Eells
A staff with a collective belief that what they do CAN and WILL make a difference in student achievement provides the greatest chance of student success. As with any busy group of talented people, we can often find ourselves living in our own silos based on our roles, on our assigned projects, or just our own interests. We have to make the effort to seek out the perspective of others and we need to be systematic about the resources, professional learning, and tools we create for our students.
As you think about professional learning communities, what connections might you make to Teacher Collaborative Routines? Teacher Collaborative Routines are rooted in three concepts:
- teachers collaborate to build a clear and common understanding of the pedagogy, content, alignment, and instruction for a guaranteed and viable curriculum;
- teachers collaborate to gain an understanding of student knowledge and learning to adjust adult actions to support student success; and,
- teachers engage in collaborative inquiry and reflective collaboration around their instruction through informal feedback from colleagues.
In order for Teacher Collaborative Routines to be successful, it is important that Collective Teacher Efficacy is alive in the school and district. “Collective teacher efficacy (CTE) is the collective belief of the staff of the school/faculty in their ability to positively affect students. CTE has been found to be strongly, positively correlated with student achievement. A school staff that believes it can collectively accomplish great things is vital for the health of a school and if they believe they can make a positive difference then they very likely will” (Hattie, 2016).
As your teacher teams continue to plan for and implement high-quality instruction and student support whether in a face-to-face, virtual, or hybrid learning environment, how might you positively contribute to collective teacher efficacy? How might you need to be intentional about communicating, collaborating, coordinating, and cooperating with each other to ensure each student is successful?
The Statewide Field Team’s fall, winter, and spring professional learning calendar has been published. You will notice that we will primarily be meeting virtually for the Superintendent and Leadership Networks as well as the Collaborative Partner meetings. We are hopeful we will meet face-to-face in the spring. We are excited to offer two new online courses beginning this fall:
- Educational Improvement Through Systems provides an introduction to what systems are and how systems function in schools. This course will address a variety of ideas around how systems in classrooms, schools, and districts support continuous improvement. This course is designed to help you learn about systems by examining a case study and looking at examples of systems from your daily life and your experiences in schools.
- Teacher Collaborative Routines (TCR) replaces TCR Floors 1, 2, and 3. This updated course consists of several modules designed to develop a theoretical understanding of each practice of teacher collaborative routines as defined in the Blueprint systems framework Evidence of Practice. This course provides not only the research supporting collaborative best practices, it also provides practical support and examples that will enable teachers to move from theory to impactful and sustainable collaborative routines. Participants will explore the purpose, the practices, and the steps necessary to:
- effectively engage in routines that focus on the design and delivery of high-quality instruction;
- build their skills collaboratively around different ways that students solve/approach subject-specific learning tasks;
- use academic and non-academic data to understand student learning needs and to collaboratively plan responsive instruction and additional support; and
- develop impactful peer observations, feedback, and instructional dialogue that enhances teachers’ ability to provide responsive instruction and supports.
“Sustainable change, after all, depends not upon compliance with external mandates or blind adherence to regulation, but rather upon the pursuit of the greater good.”~ D. Reeves
Leadership, Instructional Infrastructure, and Student Support . . . Oh My! What connections might you make between these three components of the Blueprint Framework? How might they interrelate? How might they support the Continuous Improvement Process?
What might be your first next step? Long range goals? How might you continue to Take Action and apply your learning? Your SWFT Facilitator can support you by deepening your understanding of and helping you contextualize the Blueprint Framework to best meet the needs of your students and staff. The Statewide Field Team is your guide-by-your side and will scaffold the support that you need to meet your desired output . . . success for each student!
Contact Us: Our goal is to meet your needs, if there’s specific information that you believe that you and others would benefit from learning about, please communicate those wishes to your SWFT facilitator or email Lynn Batchelder, Coordinator of Professional Learning, firstname.lastname@example.org.