According to the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, equitable school systems “work in partnership with families, the business community, civic and community organizations to enrich the curriculum, provide consistently high expectations for all students, and develop support and opportunities for all students.” In order to realize these criteria for an equitable school, it is extremely important that a plan is in place to ensure that all members of the school community (students, families, community, staff, educators) are knowledgeable about their roles and responsibilities in the work of continuous improvement. Acknowledging that, school leaders are encouraged to carefully consider how, when, and who to include on their school’s improvement team throughout the various phases of the improvement cycle.
For some schools, these might be the same individuals who serve on the school improvement steering committee.
For other schools, the steering committee might be a larger group that is engaged throughout the process for feedback and input. The school improvement team might be made up of the implementation team leads and other key individuals that ensure the day-to-day work of continuous improvement occurs smoothly.
The resource from Education Elements provides an overview of the different teams that might be part of a strategic planning process.
The resources and guiding questions below can support you in determining the most effective team structures:
In reflecting on the current action plans, implementation teams, and other teams within the school, who should serve on the steering committee this year?
This resource from Education Elements provides a helpful snapshot of strategic planning teams and how they might be a part of the cycle of continuous improvement.
Should schools base their team decisions on traditional hierarchy or how should school teams think strategically about who might bring the necessary skills, knowledge, and mindset to move our work together forward?
The resource, from “The New School Rules”, can support thinking strategically. It is recommended that schools teams take the time to work through a Compass Points Protocol available from School Reform Initiative. The protocol supports school teams to examine how they can work together more effectively.
How can the school improvement facilitator (SIF) best support the planning process?
This one-pager can be helpful to discuss the different ways a SIF might best support a school team.
How can school teams ensure that all team members understand their roles and responsibilities within the improvement process?
Spending time working through protocols that foster a culture of collective inquiry and shared responsibility can support this. The use of protocols also assure that the collective work school teams engage in is equitable and strategic. Both the Inquiring Introductions and Norm Setting protocols from Harvard’s Data Wise can support the school teams to set the stage for effective collaborative work.
How can school teams ensure the broader school community is informed of the ways in which each role is responsible for improving student outcomes?
School leaders and SIFs must review the most up-to-date directions and guidelines for the planning process. These can be found on the Future Ready Comprehensive Planning Website. Review the resource Federal Compliance Requirements document as well.
Taking the time to organize for collaborative work is an extremely important step in the planning process. Failure to do so can result in a plan that is lacking impact and buy-in. Establishing the structures that define how school teams will work together, enables school teams can dedicate time to the actual work of school transformation and improvement.
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