Collaborating and Communicating for Student Success

Using some of the information gathered in LASA 1, you will develop a plan to improve interpersonal communication in a 9–12 high school. The information to be communicated relates to the school’s curriculum and assessment data relative to the citizenship initiatives that were introduced last year. An ad hoc teacher committee looking at discipline issues recommended the institution of the initiatives as a way to address some growing concerns in the school. The proposal presented to the administration, and later to the school board, was research-based and included appropriate data analyses. The initiatives were established based on a national curriculum and approved by the school board. You, the principal, have identified the faculty, the students, the parents, and the larger community as relevant stakeholder groups. You have found that there has been a sense of mistrust growing in your educational community due to poor communication strategies at multiple levels. Your goal is to establish effective communication techniques with and within these four groups that will reestablish the building of partnerships to support strong learning communities and help to resolve conflicts.

The faculty is at various levels of commitment to delivering this curriculum as it was designed. For a portion of the faculty, the citizenship initiatives are a value-added factor. These faculty do not see how the initiatives are relevant to their content areas, necessary, and/or worth the time that must be committed to them.

Another portion of the faculty, based on the change in the district’s demographics, strongly believe that these initiatives will help the students—especially those new to the United States—when they graduate. These faculty also expect these initiatives to cut down on discipline problems now. These specific faculty are dedicated to making sure that the initiatives are expanded during the next few years.

Other faculty have a wait-and-see attitude. They are willing to give the initiatives a chance but do not have much confidence that they will become an integral part of the curriculum. This group has seen other initiatives come and go before and just is not overly interested in investing a lot of their effort into changing their routines.

The faculty, as a whole, is hesitant to talk to each other about these initiatives. The consensus is that there are more crucial things that need to be discussed at the department level rather than full faculty meetings devoted to these initiatives. They are even less supportive of the idea of talking to the parents about these initiatives. The faculty, generally, view these types of parent meetings as being more appropriate at the elementary level.

These initiatives require the students to hold open and candid small group discussions weekly on the monthly topics presented by their homeroom teachers. The students know that they will be graded on their participation in these small group sessions. They also must submit a reflective journal to their homeroom teachers for review on a monthly basis. A part of the entry requires the students to discuss the topic with their parent(s) and document the discussion. The journal is also graded. The assessments and grades do not relate to content information or knowledge gained and applied. Rather, the students are assessed and graded on the development of intangibles such as respect, pride, and responsibility.

The parents have received some printed information on the entire school curriculum, and the initiatives were explained in that document. The parents are receiving mixed messages from the faculty and their children as to the importance of the related assignments and the grades assigned. Remember that you are dealing with the three groups of parents that you identified in LASA 1. For the initiatives to meet their established goals, the parents and extended families must have an active part in the topic discussions. They must also support the curriculum through their own actions. They are to expect the same behaviors from their children at home as are expected in school.

Since implementing the initiatives is over and above the standard curriculum, funding for the initiatives must be raised outside of the school’s approved budget. The operational budget for this program includes items such as materials, training of faculty, and leadership camps for the students, etc. The larger community has been asked to support fund-raising efforts in order for the school to teach the initiatives. The larger community had received brochures requesting their help in raising the necessary funds.

Your overall goal is to improve the interpersonal communication in a 9–12 high school as a basis for developing and supporting your vision for a strong and effective learning community. You are using the citizenship initiatives as the first step in developing the culture of communication within the entire educational community.

Create a plan that includes the following:
•Identify what you consider the critical communication issue to be addressed with each group and each subgroup as appropriate. These may or may not be the same issue. Provide a rationale for the selection of the issue for each group/sub-group.
•Identify your goals and/or anticipated outcomes of the plan for each group.
•Identify strategies and communication tools to be used in the process—including technology.
•Identify the types of documents that will go to each group. You do not need to develop the actual documentation that will go to the various groups (e.g., curriculum map, brochures, data tables, etc.). Explain what they are to do with the documentation.
•Describe the purpose of proposed meetings to be held within and between the four groups.
•Identify timelines to support your plan.

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