Once the school leadership team has completed the data mining and goal setting parts of academic leadership, their tasks expanded to include planning for the opening of school and assessing “readiness.” By July, most schools have a school improvement plan (SIP), but frequently, the plans have been developed without the intensive data mining and goal setting that were discussed in our previous blog entries. These plans need to be reevaluated for student focus, relevance to data priorities, and potential impact on goal areas. Ed Directions’ coaches use tools like the one below to facilitate these discussions.
To evaluate the student focus of the school, SIP discussion needs to identify student priorities embedded in the plan and the action steps related to those priorities.
Direct Student Focus in Current SIP
SIP Action Steps
Analysis in Terms of “Data Dive” Student Priorities and Goals
If student priorities (e.g., attendance) are not addressed or are addressed in a way that is inadequate to ensure that the goals for students are met, the Ed Directions coaches facilitate a discussion on ways the SIP can be modified or expanded to ensure that student goals will be met.
Once an initial “revised” SIP has been developed, the leadership team needs to evaluate the school’s “readiness” to successfully implement that plan. This includes an analysis of:
· School facilities – building and grounds, common areas (e.g., lunchrooms), classrooms (H/AC, lighting, furnishings, equipment, and technologies), and potential hazards (construction, needed maintenance, community/neighborhood issues).
· Academic resources – texts, maps/visuals, discipline equipment (e.g., science equipment), audiovisual equipment, and teacher and student technologies.
· Academic systems – culture/climate, schedules, curriculum, data management, discipline/grade level organization, PLC protocols, course/unit/lesson/testing protocols, student monitoring policies, attendance/tardiness policies, academic rituals and routines, behavior management rituals and routines, etc.
· Academic support systems – “at risk” identification schedules, non-academic support programs, academic support programs, implementation and impact monitoring, adult mentoring identification, etc.
· School management systems – lunchroom schedules/rituals/routines, student movement patterns/rituals/routines, counseling schedules, etc.
If issues are identified in policies, procedures, or systems, the Ed Directions coaches will facilitate ad hoc planning to either identify band-aid solutions or changes in systemic patterns that can be developed before the start of school.
Ed Directions treats assessing staff “readiness” as a separate but critically important element in the assessment of the school’s readiness to open the doors to students. There are number of critical issues that need to be considered, including:
· Staff reaction to change – there are number of ways professionals can react to changes in the way they are expected to do “business.” Some are willing and able to accept change, some are willing but lack preparation, some are unwilling but will do the work, and some will refuse to change. Leaders need to assess staff willingness because it will be critical for them to get everyone on board.
· Staff preparation to change – if the SIP includes areas that are not part of traditional school of education training (e.g., creating student-friendly cultures and climates or diversifying to ensure success for all) or are critical to successful implementation of the school plan at the classroom level (e.g., monitoring student growth as learner/performer, diversifying teacher work and student work, etc.), academic leaders need to be prepared to offer ad hoc additions to professional development plans.
· Potential or perceived barriers to change the classroom level – The Ed Directions coaches identify “barriers” that might get in the way of successful implementation of the SIP. Some common examples include conflicting priorities/directions, change overload, lack of needed resources (e.g., time, materials, technologies), etc.
Our Ed Directions coaches emphasize that the school improvement plan needs to have the desired impact on student work as learner and performer or else it is a waste of time, energies, and resources. If we want to approach “success for all students,” it is critical that academic leaders identify priority student needs; develop strategic and tactical plans to meet those needs; assess the readiness of all elements needed to successfully implement those plans; prepare the physical environment, the procedural environment, the culture and climate, the staff, and the students; and have all elements ready for the opening of the school’s doors.