Making Stakeholders Feel Welcome
The district’s mission statement centers around, “high expectations, social justice, and equality for all students” but sometimes our efforts to do that are met with restrictions, or lack of support from our probation partners. Again, in some units probation and teachers share a vision, but it is all by chance.
When I listened to Dr.Pumpian’s screencast, the part about “us v. them” regarding students is a tricky one as there are strict rules of conduct for safety and security reasons. Two groups of stakeholders that could be more effectively welcomed are students and probation staff.
Sphere of Influence
If I were the school leader I would appoint a head teacher, or “probation liaison” to keep a constant dialogue between school and probation. We used to have a position like this and it made our visions (and actions) much more in-line with each other. But the position was cut a few years ago for financial reasons and never came back. The probation department still has their liaison, but our principal is spread so thin that they rarely meet. A head teacher would be on site all of the time and would have a better perspective on day-to-day needs.
Current Sphere of Influence:
Within my own unit we are already taking steps to create more of a consistent culture and routines. It is hard with such a high turnover, but the two other teachers in my unit and I have noticed some areas where we can establish routines. We recently put in place a unit “economy” in which students get “dollars” based on the daily behavior grades that we and probation officers give them. They don’t physically get anything, but we post the amount of money in their “account” that they can cash in for incentives. We have also talked about creating “applications” for students to fill out to become “workers”. Probation often asks for students with good behavior to perform various tasks in the unit, but this would be a more formal routine.
After reading this chapter and thinking about what my student’s needs are when they enter my class (much like Nancy’s needs in visiting schools), I realized that though their stay is often just a week or two their biggest concern is credits and transcripts. Upon their first day, I’d like to have a welcome routine shared with my coteachers in which we could make sure students understand their transcripts and the systems in place in our unit.
- Work with coteachers to create a welcoming process for new students, to include discussing transcripts and class schedules.
- Create a streamlined folder for students that contains all log-in information, class websites, transcripts and reminders of routines.
- Put applications idea into action, to give students a sense of responsibility and purpose in their environment
- Create a student worker position that serves as "welcome wagon", for peers to introduce norms and routines to new students
- Share the process with other teachers and encourage them to try it in their units.