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Leading Edge Blog

Staying Engaged in the School Improvement Process

Guest blog by Kevin Casey, Student Services Coordinator, Middletown City Schools

Similar to what Isaac Newton acknowledged when discussing earlier scientists in 1675, the OLAC resources have provided me as an educational leader with the ability to see further "by standing on the shoulders of giants." For an active user like myself, the OLAC resources are a user-friendly database, or some would even say, a warehouse of best practices from renowned educational leaders, that work. With these resources at hand, I do not have to be, nor can I realistically be, an expert in every area of education.

Whenever I come across a challenge, the first OLAC resource I start with is the Ohio Standards Based Educator Evaluation Crosswalk. This ensures that the foundation of my solution and direction emerges from reputable sources and will align with ODE. Like a flowchart, it allows one to narrow one's direction to the many resources that are most appropriate. From here, focused questions lead the user along based on the user's role. Additionally, it will often generate a list of suggested recommended readings, ideas, and more resources for further professional development. These focus questions and suggestions are powerful tools that shape future discussions as we move through process of tackling the challenge. With the focus questions in hand, all members of the team are aware of the driving concern with the full knowledge that the question is not some random question from thin air or that came from some vendor pushing an agenda, but rather were created by leaders in that particular field.

As a team, our next step is to follow the Crosswalk Professional Development Plan. Normally, we would come together and follow the process. In the era of Covid-19 self-quarantining, this is not possible with social distancing. Fortunately, a majority of the resources are readily available online for our school improvement work to continue. Another advantage, and a testament to the credibility of using these resources, is that OLAC professional learning qualify to be submitted to one's local LPDC for one's IPDP. While the state has extended the deadlines for licensure renewal, with the OLAC resources we are no longer dependent on searching for quality professional development for staff. Furthermore, as we look at different employees roles, such as hourly paid workers, the OLAC resources provide others an opportunity to stay engaged with documentable, quality professional development to account for their time.

We can accomplish many goals with access to these materials. This is a time to remain engaged with the school improvement process with time to reflect on this process. At some future time, the schools will reopen, and we will have the confidence to continue building on our improvement process knowing it did not experience interruption.

Kevin Casey, Student Services Coordinator, Middletown City Schools
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