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As a follow up to your National Title 1 conference presentation, you must identify two areas of opportunity for increasing student achievement on your campus. Create an additional 4-5 page presentation (between 5-7 minutes in length) wherein you address the following:

Identify 2 areas of opportunity for increasing student achievement
Explain the steps taken to address these opportunities to date
Describe lessons learned and new approach(es) to address opportunities
Identify the stakeholders needed to effect change
Describe your plan for encouraging stakeholders to work together to achieve goal(s).

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Student success involves the school, students, families, and the community.  Positive and meaningful relationships between all stakeholders can have huge positive impacts on student achievement.  “Relationships help the student [stakeholders] believe in the teacher’s      [school’s] high expectations, engage with the rigorous curriculum, and respond to the relevancy of the learning. Effective relationships empower the student, the teacher, the parent, the administrator, and the community” (Linton & Davis, 2013, p. 72).  To have the largest impact on student achievement it is important to communicate with stakeholders the importance of the collaboration efforts.  The link below is a presentation that directly informs stakeholders of the importance of collaboration for student success.

Linton, C. & Davis, B. (2013). Equity 101: Culture. Corwin: Thousand Oaks, CA  

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Managing leadership is a key aspect to administration. The link below provides a variety of information regarding best practices for administrators based on personal experience and research for managerial leadership. 

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I am willing to assume that you (collectively) value the contributions of parent volunteers. I certainly do! Just this past Friday, our parent volunteers hosted a Valentine's dance for our elementary students. Although we had several volunteers assist with the pre-production, production, and post-production Valentine's Dance activities, the number of parent volunteers paled in comparison to the number of parents that came to school on Friday afternoon bearing cakes, cupcakes, balloons, pizza, beverages, and other treats for classroom Valentine's Day parties. We literally had over 157 visitors sign in to bring party goods, and no more than 16 (to include student volunteers) assist with the dance.
Take a peek at the following article and share you thoughts on the importance of parent volunteerism in your campus setting(s).
http://cmc-math.org/family/PDF%20Documents/WhyYouShouldVolunteer.pdf
Interview parents who volunteer in their children’s classroom in the school in which you are serving. Solicit their opinion of this involvement as volunteers, asking how often they volunteer, how they became involved, why they think it is important, and what they are learning from the experience.

There are not many parents that actually volunteer within the daily classroom activities of my school. Most of the volunteer work is done outside of the classroom. This includes volunteering within the college counseling department, for the front office, and for the athletic department. We also have parents that volunteer by always bringing in treats for staff or supporting staff breakfast parties. The Booster Club parents are the biggest group of parent volunteers. This group sponsors staff lunches and treats during parent teacher conferences.

As there is not a large pool of volunteers to interview I contacted two parents whom are in our building and volunteer consistently. I interviewed one parent, Nell B, on 2/17/16, and the other parent, Lexi P., on 2/16/16. Both Nell and Lexi volunteer outside of the classroom. I do not know of any volunteers that go into the classrooms at my school.

Nell is volunteering with the English Language (ELL) department helping senior students fill out college and FAFSA forms. She has been volunteering for four-eight hours per week over the course of the past four weeks. Nell stated, “The ELL student population is highly under-represented. I am a retired ELL teacher after 28 years. The families need so much help. The only way for these families to grow and succeed in our valley is college. I’m just trying to make a difficult situation easier” (Nell, personal communication, 2-16-16). Nell collaborates with our ELL teacher and the college counseling department. She has been responsible for getting 16 Latino students applied for college and for scholarships. When asked why she was doing this, Nell said, “These kids are also our future. I happen to be able to provide a unique skill set with my acquisition of language to be able to support these particular kids. They have such potential and I want to make sure they reach their highest potential” (Nell, personal communication, 2/16/16). She has been integral to the productivity and the college counseling department is nominating her for our ‘Volunteer of the Year’.

Lexi has three kids currently in the district. This family is one of the most affluent and amazing families in our district. They have the financial resources to make big impacts in small ways. Lexi stated, “Teachers have been supportive of all my kids. I see how much time and effort is put into the kids and the opportunities they provide on a daily basis. They give their whole heart and get paid nothing. My goal is to ensure that teachers know how much the community cares” (Lexi, personal communication, 2/17/16). Lexi is responsible for leading the collaboration of multiple celebrations, funding for student resources, and staff appreciation events. Most of her work is done without recognition and Lexi prefers it that way. “I know people know that I am doing things. I just don’t want people to go out of their way to thank me. I should be thanking all of the people who work in this school for all they do” (Lexi, personal communication, 2/17/16).

These two have made the lives of students and staff easier. They give so much of themselves without asking anything in return. Their selflessness is astounding. The key is to find more people like them and get them into our school. This school year we have really improved our volunteer supports and I hope with more celebrations and recognition our volunteers get more will come. A thank you can make a big impact, regardless of how big or how small that thank you may be.

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I remember the feeling of being a new teacher. It was like navigating a sail boat through stormy weather around an outcropping of rocks and islands. The 'New Teacher Induction' program supported my learning and increased my confidence in being a new teacher. One of the most nerve-wracking parts of being a new teacher is navigating the 'island of parent communication'. A brief informational brochure can really support tips and strategies in successfully navigating this 'island'. The attachment is an example of a resource that can be given to teachers as a quick reference when working with parents.

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As a building leader, developing rapport and establishing open communication with your constituencies is critical. Establishing listening strategies to gain information and create conversational bridges is the precursor to establishing rapport with others. Asking and responding to questions is an approach to promoting effective school-related conversations with internal and external forces with whom you interact daily. Describe an experience or two within your internship activities in which you have endeavored to establish rapport, communication and listening strategies with internal and external constituencies of your school. What have been the successes and challenges which you have experienced through these activities?

As the Interventionist I am consistently working within similar responsibilities as an administrator. These experiences have allowed me to handle many of the administrative leadership responsibilities during my internship. One example of these responsibilities include a recent situation with a severe needs student and another student. The severe needs student made threats to another student and the other student’s family demanded action. Due to the nature of the severe needs student and the laws surrounding the IEP and confidentiality this situation required different intervention. The other students family was not happy with the result and thus the principal and I had the parents come in to meet. During the meeting we listened, paraphrased, and posed questions. We also validated their feelings using paraphrasing. By the end of this very lengthy meeting the parents left feeling comfortable and happy with the process. They continued to be unhappy with the results but with the additional information they gained about law and confidentiality, the family at least could accept the result. We also let them know the actions being taken to protect both students and the family left positively ensured that their student was safe. These listening strategies were developed using the cognitive coaching methods established through the Thinking Collaborative programs (http://www.thinkingcollaborative.com/) (Costa & Garmston, 2014). The professional development was provided over a two year period where participants could go into their jobs and practice the learned skills. By applying these learned skills I have been able to develop listening skills, and in this situation those skills proved invaluable.

When communicating with a variety of stakeholders it is very important to be transparent and empathetic. Currently I am working with the leadership team to develop a new master schedule that we plan to implement the next school year. We have led meetings with stakeholders to gain input and feedback on their values and desires for a master schedule. Along the way we have provided our meeting notes, allowed public participants, formal notices, and collaborative conversation to ensure all stakeholders know what is going on as we move along in the process. One of the stakeholder groups is a group of parents that make up our School Accountability Committee (SAC). This group is known for utilizing bullying tactics to get what they want, and historically the SAC has always gotten what they wanted. In the same fashion that is what they are doing to our process. The rumors, lies, and workarounds are in full swing at this point. Even though we have met with them many times and provided our thoughts- the amount of communication has been voided by their voices. We have met as a team to develop solutions to support the SAC’s thoughts, but regardless of our positive intentions the communication seems to be ineffective. As a leader it is difficult to support my colleagues with how to approach this when every plan we develop fails. The main take-away message that I always encourage is that our team remain positive, smile, stay neutral, and refer all questions to our administration. If our team continues to show respect by listening and smiling then eventually (hopefully) the relationship with the SAC will develop into a positive and collaborative team in order to support our students.

Costa, A. & Garmston, R. ( 2014). Cognitive Coaching Seminars Foundational Training: Learning Guide. Professional Development training February 2015.




As a building leader, developing rapport and establishing open communication with your constituencies is critical. Establishing listening strategies to gain information and create conversational bridges is the precursor to establishing rapport with others. Asking and responding to questions is an approach to promoting effective school-related conversations with internal and external forces with whom you interact daily. How effective might you be at creating and sustaining positive, open dialogue with your campus and community constituents?
Using the Strategic Communication Process model http://www.rhudy.biz/our-planning-process/, complete a personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to gage your proficiency in communicating. For additional information on performing a SWOT analysis, click on the link below:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2013/04/15/how-to-conduct-a-personal-s-w-o-t-analysis/#236f5cf76047


References
Strategic Communicating Planning Process. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rhudy.biz/our-planning-process/
Quast, L. (2013). How to conduct a personal SWOT analysis. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2013/04/15/how-to-conduct-a-personal-s-w-o-t-analysis/#236f5cf76047
Communication SWOT Analysis

Strengths
Trained in cognitive coaching
Active listening
Empathic listening
Can gauge mood of audience
Can engage others using

Weaknesses
Tend to talk over people
Facial expressions tend to give away my feelings
Can be over-emotional depending on the topic

Opportunities
Continue Leadership Team membership where we practice communication skills
Establish protocols and norms for communication
Professional development in additional Thinking Collaborative programs
Continued modeling of cognitive coaching strategies with other colleagues

Threats
Not all colleagues are trained in cognitive coaching
Need to find more time to participate in professional development
The various agendas and opinions of others

The communication strategies I have developed over the past few years through Thinking Collaborative have significantly improved my communication strategies (http://www.thinkingcollaborative.com/). The goal of the training is to support active listening skills, collaborative communication skills, and promote self-managing communication skills. The training is consistently delivered by the program to our colleagues one time per year. Those of us that are trained are consistently saying that all of our other colleagues need to be trained. Many people are resistant and that is the biggest threat in really improving our communication, as well as mine.

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Meeting agendas are critical to develop in order to run an effective and seamless meeting. "Well run meetings produce specific benefits in social capital including norms of reciprocity, clear communication, and operationally sound information flow" (Garmston, 2015, p. 10). When developing an agenda for multiple agencies it is important to notify the agencies and audience the various speaking points, order of presentation, and objectives of each of the presenters. The attached agenda is a sample for a multi-agency meeting to support overall student and school health.

Garmston, B. (2015). Developing professional capital. Thinking Collaborative: Highlands Ranch, CO. Retrieved from: Professional development through Aspen School District.

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Being new to a school can be overwhelming for families, students, even new staff. Every school is unique and it is important that a school provides transparent information to new families and stakeholders. A brief guide on how to navigate the various aspects of a school can be very beneficial to new families. Below is a link to a "New to Your School Guide" that can support families through the navigation of the various policies, procedurers and culture of a school.

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Explain how current local, state, and national issues in education could erode your constituents’ confidence in your local school district. What efforts can you nurture to engage confidence in your local school?

The Aspen community is made up of about 7000 year round members. We have one high school and because of the intimacy of the very small community everyone is involved in the schools.

Over the last few years we have had some setbacks in the relationship between the school and the community. We have also had some issues with staff and the school board. These issues have been displayed in our local newspaper. Community members write opinion articles regarding school issues that are not always the most positive. The recent changes in standardized testing has really impacted stakeholders’ opinions on what we are doing on a daily basis for our kids. The CDE has changed the standardized testing requirements four times over the last six years. The results of testing are not very adequate because it is one snapshot of the overall student health of the school. The combination of the printed articles regarding the school building health and the lack of understanding of the standardized testing has developed a strong lack of confidence over the last few years.


Over the past few years many strategies have been implemented to support community relationships. The below links are board implemented supports to improve communication between the schools and the community (provided by Tom Heald, 2015). The goal was to support community relationships in order to “ promotes civic well-being and that strengthens the capacity of schools, families, and communities to support young people's’ full development” (Berg, Melaville, & Blank, 2006, p. 2).

Aspen School District Communication Forum Briefing Summary 2014-15 School Year 2014-15 Community Linkage (Link Below)

In addition to these developments the high school initiated the creation of a leadership team. The team is responsible for sharing the school vision, expertise, support in decision making, be a direct connection between the board and the staff, work with the community, and provide recommendations to support student achievement (Berg, Melaville, & Blank, 2006; Bambrick-Santoyo & Peiser, 2012).

Since implementing the changes, negative issues and opinions have been drastically changing to be more positive. This is proven through recent changes in public opinion and printed articles in the local newspaper. Transparency and shared collaboration has been really key in supporting the confidence of our schools.

Bamrick-Santoyo, P. & Peiser, B. (2012). Leverage leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Berg, A., Melaville, A., & Blank, M. (2006). Community and family engagement: Principals share what works. Washington DC: Coalition for Community Schools. Retrieved from: http://www.communityschools.org/assets/1/AssetManager/CommunityAndFamilyEngagement.pdf

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As a school administrator or a school public relations director, you need to know the power structure of the community. What three types of power structures would you try to identify? How would you do that? With this information that you have acquired regarding these power structures, what will you attempt to do to influence them for the benefit of the constituents of your school?

My district is very affluent. There are three areas of power within my community: extremely wealthy, the middle class, and the low class. The nickname for these in order are: up-valley, mid-valley, and down-valley. These nicknames came from the way our area is situated based on where people can afford to live. It is very common in the up-valley region to have an average home price of $1 million. As stated in the interactive module this up-valley group controls most of the power because of the “family relationships, financial background, political party affiliation, social standing, and property ownership” (CSU Global Online, 2015, slide 3). This group is the loudest and most involved. This group is the most represented at educational meetings and forums. Often they provide the finances to get what they want.

The mid-valley group is generally made up of the working class that are on average paid pretty well but not within the million dollar range. The mid-valley group includes myself and people like me- working in the community but not making that much. This group is well represented and our opinions and voices are often heard and respected. The biggest difference between the up-valley and mid-valley group is that the mid-valley group does not have the finances to just make things happen. Often an idea is put forth and to get what people want the up-valley group pays for it. The mid-valley group is often the group that puts in the ‘work’ to get the ideas done.

The down-valley group is the least represented. This group is made up of mostly second English speakers that have immigrated to the area for high pay and good housing. This group often does not participate at all in the areas of education. There are a multitude of reasons including: not documented to vote, time is spent working long hours, involvement in other areas of their life including church and community, inability to understand due to language, etc.

Over the last few years the district has implemented a variety of interventions to balance the three groups. These include: a leadership team, implementation of meeting protocols and procedures, increase of communication in home languages, increase hiring of translators and multilingual speakers, provide transportation, schedule meetings and conferences at a variety of times to accommodation a variety of work schedules, etc. We have also implemented different cultural events to support all cultures to increase the comfort levels of people into our schools. We have also initiated scholarships and financial supports within all types of languages to ensure inclusion of all groups.

CSU Global Online. (2015). Addressing the power structures of your community. EDL 560 Module 2 Interactive Lecture. Retrieved from: https://app.schoology.com/external_tool/173798057/launch
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