After the initial crisis hit, Accelerate Institute leaders sprang into action to meet the basic needs of students and teachers. Then, spring break gave many leaders a chance to regroup and strategize a more sustainable plan to take them to the end of the year. To do this, our leaders leveraged the drivers of Change Management. These drivers provide a structure for goal setting, buy-in, planning, execution, course correction, and time management.
The “bookend” of Change Management is Black-Belt Teaching. Our leaders needed to crystalize a vision for their remote learning instructional model that was sustainable. Meaning, it meets the developmental needs of students, is manageable for teachers, and still provides whole group, small group, and special education services to all students. There were many expectations coming at leaders from the district or network and from parents on what remote learning should look like, often in conflict with research that said that students should not be in front of a computer for 8 hours. How do you balance needing to meet the needs of students, while also creating sustainable workloads for teachers and meeting the expectations of other stakeholders?
Additionally, many teachers and leaders were fearful of remote learning due to a lack of experience and training. So how do you develop teachers’ confidence and skills on remote learning planning and execution? Our leaders leveraged the “Teacher Support Cycle” to create professional development experiences for teachers, leaning heavier on support and coaching rather than accountability.
Here’s how leaders have found new ways to create Black-Belt Teaching:
Anoli Muñoz (Stella Elementary Charter Academy, Los Angeles) created a TK-2 plan focused on consistency and connection, while navigating the network’s expectations and proactively planning for a fall “slide” in student achievement.
Dave Trejo (Environmental Charter Middle School-Gardena, Los Angeles) is chunking the academic plans in three-week cycles, using student focus groups and parent surveys to improve the implementation. Dave and his team focused heavily on overcommunication the first 2 weeks. Dave is keeping in mind building a scaffolded, sustainable plan. In the initial launch, the team focused on content review and getting tech worked out. Teachers started out tracking whether students were able to attend remote classes. The team is gradually shifting to a focus on the quality of work submitted. He has dedicated staff members tracking compliance so classroom teachers can focus on planning and instruction.
Whitney McIntosh (Great Lakes Academy, Chicago), Kash Wilson (Noble Hansberry College Prep High, Chicago), and Katie-jo Ramirez (Legal Prep Academy, Chicago) have used this crisis as an opportunity to create a new vision for learning. A crisis can force us to confront the status quo and ask ourselves, how can we do better for students and families? These leaders have seized that opportunity to look at current practice and innovate.
Allison Hansen (Acero-Marquez, Chicago) and Adam Sparks (Acero-Cisneros, Chicago) have teamed up to take the lead on their charter network’s remote learning plan. They spearheaded the launch of #AceroLearnsEverywhere, the online platform for remote learning for the ACERO network, which has been a valuable resource for students, teachers, and families
The question of how you support the professional development needs of teachers during this crisis is a main concern for leaders who rely on coaching and professional development to always improve practice. Shavon Mathus and Whitney McIntosh (Great Lakes Academy, Chicago) are co-facilitating virtual professional development for teacher support on their instructional plan. They utilized Zoom meetings for whole group sessions and facilitated breakout rooms for teachers to practice and receive individualized support.
After Chris Cigan (LEARN 10 Charter, North Chicago) distributed tech devices to the students that needed one, his teachers were able to start providing intervention classrooms based on what they were seeing in the student data.
Rachel Garber (High-Tech LA, Los Angeles) began preparations for the transition before students left the building by having staff practice the technology access, class structure and what accountability would look like once the transition happened. Every parent was contacted to determine who has access to internet and a computer with school laptops being sent home with those students needing them. The online platform for students was created and once the remote transition happened, the staff and students seamlessly made the switch.