While there was willingness and commitment on both sides, the following were key steps that resulted in an effective partnership from the get go:
Plan together from the Start: Once we knew SJUSD had selected Washington as the school site for us to partner with, at the outset we scheduled a lot of initial meetings with the Principal and the Leadership team for joint planning, visioning and problem solving. These initial meetings were critical to do a needs assessment and gather information about the areas of need for the school.
Clarifying the vision: The most effective partnerships develop and own a shared sense of purpose. Once we had completed the initial needs assessments, we were able to develop a clear vision: “to create a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students at Washington. Having a clearly defined vision helped us plan ahead, the different activities that would be conducted as part of the partnership and focus on the role of the UE coach on campus.
Taking time to get to know one another: We all know the value of building a strong relationship in our work with clients and partners. Before school started we spent a lot of time on campus with leadership and school staff, which gave us an opportunity to learn about their core competencies and on the ground challenges.
Shared Decision Making: Throughout the initial phase of the partnership – from design and planning to daily operation there was a lot of time spent on having open dialogue with the school leadership team about their current challenges and the best way the partnership could address them. There was also a lot of flexibility and ongoing communication between Seneca and the Principal to adapt the plan along the way as needed.
Prepare Team Members to Work Together: Even before school started there were lots of opportunities for the UE coach to attend training and joint orientation with the school staff, to increase collaboration and information sharing. This also allowed for the coach to gain insight into academic focus areas for the school and ways to integrate the UE work into existing available structures.
Strategic Planning and Roll Out: Taking into account the unique culture at Washington and to increase buy-in for the partnership we were very strategic about how the program and the different activities would be introduced to the staff. We first met with the Cabinet, then moving to the leadership team (which was a representative of all the Teaching staff), and finally presenting to the Classified staff.
A Strong, Dynamic Leader: The partnership activities from the initial stages were effective as the Principal has a high level of organization, is very enthusiastic, has a hands-on spirit and great follow through.
Blog post written by:
Puja Satwani, Unconditional Education Coach