Enhancing Support for SIG Schools SEA

By The Indiana Department of Education Office of Early Learning and Intervention / November 30, 2015

The STLC is very excited to invite you to join and follow staff from the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) as they share their reflections via a monthly blog on how they are using the SIG pre-implementation year to strategically change the way they think and interact with schools. This is the fourth blog in the series. Read the first blog in the series here.

Starting our “formal” monitoring visits with our new cohort of SiG planning schools raised some questions about our current processes. Why does monitoring have such a business, audit-like feel to it?  If we only monitor implementation, how will we know if the school is making systemic, sustainable changes? How can we use the information from monitoring to provide support that is differentiated enough to meet the needs of each SIG school?

With almost all visits complete for this fall, our planning cohort of SIG schools provided opportunities for us to enhance how we monitor, support and work with our schools.  Some key practices that have evolved and provided better results from visits include:

  • Updating our monitoring protocol.  School visits have typically been conducted with a monitoring tool that is essentially a checklist and used in a very audit-like way. This tool did not meet the needs of our planning schools because they are not at full implementation. We piloted a new tool that captured more of the qualitative data from schools. Without the urgency of full implementation, we were able to spend time being reflective about what was happening during this year and whether or not those were the right actions. For example, one of our schools committed to hiring a data coach. The hiring had been delayed for several months while some other adjustments were made. If this year had been an implementation year, we would have wondered why there had been such a delay and determined the school to be behind on implementation. Instead, our discussion with the school generated dialogue about how teachers are responding to the new data coach, how conversations around data were beginning to impact teaching and learning, and how staff were beginning to integrate data analysis practices into their own classrooms.   Schools were invited to be more reflective of what they were doing and how it was making a difference. See attached tool for an example of our new monitoring protocol.
  • Providing differentiated support to schools through intentional networking and building of a SIG community.  The varied needs of the planning cohort have encouraged us to consider how we meet their unique needs by considering our delivery models (e.g., whole SIG group meetings versus just the planning cohort). Specifically, for our upcoming winter networking day:
    • Breakout sessions will be focused on just planning schools with topics that are relevant to them at this point of SIG.
    • Time will be built into this day and activities will be structured to let teams talk to each other. Schools will be purposely paired in seating arrangements at the start of the day and mixed for the afternoon. We have invited several IDOE staff to participate. These colleagues of ours bring expertise on effective teacher practices, special education, and school improvement.
    • In anticipation of this meeting and working with other SIG schools we created a Google+ Learning Community. This networking community allows SIG schools to learn from each other by sharing ideas, struggles, and areas of strength on their own time without us trying to facilitate a time and a place for them to meet a few times a year.
  • Becoming more involved in the school community through active participation. Our team has typically assumed an observer role at SIG schools. IDOE has committed to more actively participate in or visit schools during these times to better understand the culture of the school community, show support for the work being done, and build our capacity with the school community in a different way.  One of first activities will be to participate in a Professional Learning community (PLC) discussion in December at one of our schools. This opportunity will allow us to work side-by-side with staff, rather than interviewing them in a very clinical way.

Our experience this year enhanced our actions and expectations for SIG schools. Key actions were updated that we believe will support bold changes and transform our schools.


Erica Champagne

December 14, 2015 - 12:58 pm

It is great to see you are adapting your practice to best meet the needs of your turnaround schools. Monitoring that provides support can be the best form of assistance!  Your efforts to network SIG school leaders are commendable.  Finding ways for busy turnaround school leaders to connect and share best practices can be challenging.  In Massachusetts, we leverage our statewide lens by  evaluating what is working in turnaround across our state and nationally and we share best practices with our turnaround schools and districts.

Stephen Greene

December 03, 2015 - 5:43 am

I think your evolving role from observer to providing support and networking is a critical change. Schools that are in Turn Around often "don't know what they don't know " and having a proactive IDOE is more like having transformation coaching to assist with the needed changes. This is such an important variable for how SIG grants can bring about effective improvements to a school's culture.

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