Monthly Musings

Tips & Tidbits from your School Advocates

January Greetings!

We hope this edition of "Monthly Musings" finds you having enjoyed a few days with family and friends, away from the hustle and bustle of work! As much of the world is talking about resolutions and goals, now is a great time to reflect on the SMART goals your leadership team has set. As we focus on those goals with a fresh perspective in a new calendar year, remember to be stubborn about those goals, but flexible about your methods in reaching those goals. Your advocate can assist you in the use of implementation science tools that will help with determining the best methods to reach those goals.

212 Degrees

Michelle Wang, Reading School Advocate

The culture within schools has the opportunity to change drastically in the months ahead. As the winter months droll on, students become antsy, school breaks become few and far between, and testing season lurks. How do you maintain a positive culture despite the impending doom? 212 Degrees is the extra degree that sets a tone of optimism, care, and accountability within organizations. It helps people be more engaged, positive, and results-focused. It creates a culture of success! Curious to learn more? Check out the book, or the multimedia clip (link is below).

Watch the movie here!

Adaptive Implementation

Sarah Sirna, ELD School Advocate

We don't work in isolation, self-contained units or sterile environments. It is very difficult for us to control variables and test hypothesis. We work with humans, and for this reason alone, implementation is a messy, vulnerable practice:

During the initial stage of implementation the compelling forces of fear of change, inertia, and investment in the status quo combine with the inherently difficult and complex work of implementing something new. And, all of this occurs at a time when the program is struggling to begin and when confidence in the decision to adopt the program is being tested. Attempts to implement new practices effectively may end at this point, overwhelmed by the proximal and distal influences on practice and management (e.g., Macallair & Males, 2004).

In order to persist through this difficult, awkward stage, leaders, leadership teams, and staff must not ignore the emotions and adaptive challenges of implementation. Ignoring, minimizing or devaluing the emotional aspects of implementation will only lead to resistance, resentment and ultimately failed implementation.

Changing practice isn't easy in a profession that prides itself on personal connection and being rooted in childhood dreams (how many of us remember 'playing school' as children). When we institute a new practice, to some degree we are asking teachers to give up a current practice. This ‘giving up’ of practice can lead teachers to enter a form of grievance. The change model introduced by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in the 1960s allows us to explore the complexity of human emotion in the implementation process.

At our next leadership training, we will dive deeper into managing the complexities of initial implementation. For now, try one of these two activities with your leadership team if you find your system stuck in adaptive challenges of implementation:

1. Looking at the stages of implementation, are there any grade level teams or individual teachers who are currently acting in a different stage than the system? What can the leadership team do to bring those who are in earlier stages along or support those who have moved to later stages beyond the system as a whole?

2. Reflect on the change curve, how is this idea relevant to your building’s implementation plan? Where do you fall in relation to your school improvement efforts? What plans are in place to support administrators and teachers in each stage of change?


Big image

“Push-In” or “Pull-Out” Services – Which is Best for Your School?

Kristil McDonald, Special Education School Advocate

Instilling in students the 21st Century skills they must possess, and the thinking ability necessary to succeed is an enormous task. Essential strategies occur at multiple levels and includes a variety of techniques. This requires a full complement of instructional interaction and collaboration in order to meet the needs of each student. One of the strategies commonly used to provide opportunities for achievement of essential learning for special needs and at-risk students have been provided through pull-out programs. There has been considerable discussion about the effectiveness of special services for students with disabilities and low performing students in these pullout programs; programs that remove students from the general classroom to special classes or separate rooms to receive services. Though we know that students with special needs benefit from individual and small group instruction, there is a lack of clear evidence that these services are improved or more effective when provided in special education or remedial settings.

It is essential that all students make progress toward proficiency in grade level content standards. Special education students must, in addition to standards proficiency, demonstrate individual progress toward achieving the goals stipulated within their individual education program. As a result of assessing the progress of special education students, many schools are re-evaluating their delivery of services and implementing a “push-in” model, where special and general education teachers collaborate to provide services to all students in core areas within the general education classroom.

This collaboration is based on the idea that services provided using an in-class “push-in” model, if delivered collaboratively and consistently, is more effective than program models that pull a student out of the classroom to provide instruction. The belief system of “push-in” also includes the premise that aligning teaching methods used with students in special education and remedial reading benefits the student; that classroom teachers and special teachers should use the same teaching methods.

“Pull-Out” programming may expect students most confused by classroom routines, the special needs students, to learn two different routines. Students in “pull-out” instruction also frequently must adapt to very different teaching methods and may not be exposed to instruction of core standards at grade level. For example, in the classroom, reading is taught one way and in the special classroom, reading is taught an entirely different way. The value of student familiarity with teaching methods and expectations shared by special teachers and the classroom teacher cannot be overestimated, and collaboration is vital in this process.

Ultimately, each school must analyze their data and evaluate the effectiveness of their own programs to maximize educational opportunities for all of their students.

There are many resources available to help educators in this collaboration process. For example, one resource that addresses strategies for collaboration is Educating America: 101 Strategies for Adult Assistants in K-8 Classrooms, Paddy Eger. This resource provides advice and tips for teachers, parents, volunteers, para-professionals, and other classroom workers. Educating America tackles tricky topics from setting expectations to monitoring student progress.

Which delivery of instruction works best for your school – “push-in” or “pull-out,” you decide.

AI Hub

This button will take you to the Active Implementation Hub - use this resource for all things related to implementation science.

Networking Session - Resource Training & Solutions Location

Wednesday, Feb. 17th, 9am-3pm

137 23rd Street South

Sartell, MN

This is a wonderful opportunity for your team to continue to build it's leadership capacity. Registration information will be provided as it becomes available.

Networking Session - Mankato Location

Thursday, Feb. 25th, 9am-3pm

2075 Lookout Drive

North Mankato, MN

This is a wonderful opportunity for your team to continue to build its leadership capacity. Registration information will be provided as it becomes available.

Contact Information

Susan Burris, RCE Director,

Mary Jenatscheck, Imp. Science,

Kristil McDonald, Special Education,

Sarah Sirna, English Language Dev. (ELD),

Sophie Snell, English Language Dev. (ELD),

Michelle Wang, Reading,

Kim Wingrove, Mathematics,