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Aligning Team, School and District Plans

Aligning Team, School and District Plans


In this lesson, students analyze the alignment between team, school, and district plans.

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Implementing Site-Based Initiatives

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Hello there and welcome. In any organization, it's important for all the players in that organization to be on the same page. So in this lesson, we will analyze the alignment between team, school, and district plans. Let's get started. Autonomy is a good thing and the purpose of site based management is to provide schools with autonomy to guide their improvement efforts.

However, it's also best practice to ensure that the district, school, and team plans are aligned with one another. When we say the district plan, we are referring to the vision, mission, and goals for the system as a whole. It starts at the top and works its way down. So that means a district plan drives a school and team's plans toward an overarching goal.

But it's up to the school and the teams to determine how to get there. There's a sense of ownership and autonomy that comes with a school based teams that write their school improvement plans and the smaller PLC plans to reach those overarching goals. Also, at this point, teams not only determine what their goals are going to be, but also how they will reach those goals.

The process of how to reach those established goals leads teams to select and implement site based initiatives directed at those goals. Again, promoting the notion of autonomy. Here's an example of what this might look like at the elementary level. Your district's strategic plan states that all students will become proficient writers.

Your school analyzes their data to see if and where that goal is being reached. By the way, many schools now have designated days called data days to do this. Findings may include that students are indeed demonstrating proficiency in the area of narrative writing. However, not in persuasive writing.

The team decides to take action by implementing a building based initiative to address this gap. The team develops an action plan that includes teacher training. This can happen in multiple ways. For example, the district can bring someone to consult. Or perhaps there's an in house expert already.

Other options include online forms as well as off site visitations. Curriculum revisions may also be part of the plan. Perhaps a flaw in the curriculum is causing the gap. Either way, the team would be wise to monitor progress using SMART goals and the Plan Do Study Act cycle of continuous improvement.

Site based management provides schools with the autonomy to select and implement initiatives based upon the unique needs of their building. But at the same time working toward the larger mission and vision of the district. This philosophy also trickles down to smaller PLCs within the school. Let's continue with the example of writing and see how that plays out.

Our smaller PLC, in this case, will be a building based grade five team consisting of eight teachers. The school's improvement plan also includes a goal specific to persuasive writing. In combing through the data, it's revealed that two of the teachers that happened to work together have a much higher percentage of students meeting the standard in persuasive writing.

Those teachers share how they integrate writing instruction throughout the day in all subject areas. They also develop rubrics together and share them with their students. The entire fifth grade team decides to build an action plan around those strategies. Here's an example of how they can check for alignment between mission, vision, and goals.

First, I'd like you to take note of how specific the grade five team goals are to their unique situation. For example, the school's curriculum has set up benchmarks throughout the year to monitor progress. Secondly, fifth grade students are the oldest and they manage the newspaper and web page.

Finally, training the students to assess their own work as well as other pieces of writing is an initiative the fifth grade teachers are willing to promote. As we look at these goals, let's do so with an eye on how they are aligned to the school's mission. By completing three pieces of writing in this particular genre, students will be practicing those communication skills.

The school newspaper is a great example of responsibility as well as communication. And scoring each other's written work is an authentic and meaningful way to practice exchanging ideas. So it's time to go ahead and summarize this lesson. We covered the topics of autonomy, alignment, setting and reaching goals, and we ended with an exercise in which we aligned missions and goals across district, school, and smaller PLCs.

And now for some food for thought. You've probably heard the cliche work smarter, not harder. In what ways does ensuring alignment make that possible? For more information on how you can apply what you've learned in this video, please check out the additional resources section that come with this presentation. The additional resources section include links useful for applications of this course material, including a brief description of each resource. That's all for now and thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Aligning Team, School and District Plans"

(00:00-00:14) Intro

(00:15-01:04) Autonomy and Alignment

(01:05-02:34) Reaching Goals Example

(02:35-04:14) Aligning Goals

(04:15-04:59) Food For Thought/Summary

Additional Resources

The Boston Pilot/Horace Mann Schools Network: Five Pilot School Areas of Autonomy, plus Accountability

This pilot investigates the efficacy of school autonomy and the critical focus area for that autonomy.

Autonomy and School Improvement: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go From Here?

This articles review specific policy guidelines proven to be successful in promoting school autonomy and improvement.