Build an Interdisciplinary School Change Team
Restore and Reimagine Your School Culture Now With an Interdisciplinary School Team
Every school has a unique culture that grows from its history, size, organizational structure, geography, legends, resources, and demographics. The pandemic has revealed the strength of school cultures–what kept programs at least minimally moving forward–and the needs of school cultures, all the ways old habits and functions limited achievements. As hard as the pandemic has been to manage, we are in a historically unique time to create change. The time is ripe now to address your schools needs, and reinforce your school’s strengths.
Such robust culture building is the job of school leaders, but absolutely cannot be imagined, designed and reliably implemented in isolation of the staff. Interdisciplinary collaboration is the key, but dysfunctional collaboration is too often a stumbling block: old conflicts re-emerge, distrust diminishes teamwork, marginalized subgroups remain marginalized, unexamined routines slide back into place. Without collaborative efforts, the past will become the future, now with the pains of the pandemic as an unknown variable.
The process has predictable structures and steps that are adapted to fit into each school’s capacity:
Step 1: Identifying the starting point to the school change initiative.
Step 2: Assembling an interdisciplinary change team–in a small elementary school, the entire faculty may participate; in larger middle and high schools, representatives from various cohorts will lead the initiative.
Step 3: Identifying specific short term and long term goals and data to collect.
Step 4: Assessing the school’s strengths and capacities–we always work from strengths, affirming current practices that will be springboards to motivation and improvements.
Step 5: Piloting new practices within the change team and disseminating those efforts and successes in the school community; this happens throughout the entire first year of the initiative.
Step 6: Piloting structural and procedural changes that enable the initiative to gain traction; this happens throughout the entire first year of the initiative.
Step 7: Bringing more and more faculty aboard to develop buy-in and gather feedback on how the initiative takes root across grades and disciplines; this happens throughout the entire first year of the initiative.
Step 8: Formalizing the new best practices in school documents, trainings, structures and procedures, evaluations, budgeting, and staffing patterns to fully embed the initiative into the long term functioning of the school.
Step 9: On-going review and adjustment of the program.
In smaller elementary schools in which the entire faculty functions as the change team, steps 1-7 have been accomplished by the end of the first year. For the larger staffing in most secondary schools, steps 6-9 often take us into a second year.
Jeffrey provides consultation and facilitation to restore and reimagine your school’s culture with collaborative interdisciplinary teams. The work includes identifying measurable and observable goals, building school-wide momentum, distributing authority, disseminating home grown best practices, and sharing successes.
Click to learn more about each workshop below
The Art of Creating School-Wide CoherenceSchool initiatives need to allow space for flexibility and innovation
Finally, for all who have asked for years, the full explanation of “Interests, Uniformity, Guidelines and Inventions” to have a successful school initiative, including my school’s bulletin board story. A must read for leadership.
The Pressure is Cooking Us All
Most teachers get time each day when they are not with students in order to prepare—“prep period”–grading papers, responding to emails, researching for coming lessons, using the copy machine, developing PowerPoint slides, writing reports and evaluations for students with IEPs, using the bathroom, calling parents, consulting with the school nurse about a student’s medication, conferring […]
A Lesson from the Pandemic
The first year of the pandemic, when schools went hybrid and remote, was incredibly difficult—a principal said that he felt like he was juggling on a unicycle in a hurricane; teachers felt the same. Every day blew us into unchartered territory. We re-experienced the daily anxiety of being a first year professional—all new, all untested. We did our best to not crash. Kudos to all who hung in.
Principals: Intentions and Questions at Staff Meetings
Here’s an all too common scenario: a principal floats an idea at a staff meeting, unleashing a barrage of questions and critical comments. It’s an exhausting ritual. The principal may anticipate the usual critics, and on any day be surprised by the other teachers who join in this public gauntlet of analysis.
Book Review: “The Quest for Meaningful Special Education” by Amy Ballin
Let me begin with unequivocal praise: Amy Ballin’s , “The Quest for Meaningful Special Education” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017) is well written, robustly researched, as often heart-warming as it is heart-wrenching, and laser focused on equity and excellence in our schools—equity and excellence for all students.
My friend is a family therapist. She is intrigued by the ways all the people in a big family work together, given the innumerable conflicts in such a group. She encourages as many family members as possible to come to sessions, so she can see them in action. The more family members in the room, the more likely that they will behave in their typical fashions.
Small (But Important) Steps to Integrating SEL into Lessons
Social emotional skills (SEL) is not a separate curriculum. Here’s a quick overview of integrating SEL into daily lesson plans—and improving student learning.
When to stop hanging In
After years of helping schools hang in with challenging students, it was time to clarify when to stop hanging in.
The overabundance of rules in middle and high schools creates conflict
Too much restriction can tamper teens’ individuality and resolve, as well as destroy school staff relationships. Here’s how to pare them down.
When Teacher Self-Care Is Not Enough
We need better structures to sustain teachers who work with students with mental illnesses.
Connect with Jeffrey Benson
Want to learn more about how Jeffrey can support your school or organization? Schedule at time to meet with Jeffrey to learn more about customized workshops and other services.