San Bernardino’s Sustainability Story
Highlighted ILC Principle: Cross-role collaboration. Learn more about the ILC Project Principles.
This blog entry focuses on sharing work from the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) ILC team in San Bernardino County.
The SBCUSD ILC team has been part of the ILC project since it began in 2014. The two to seven team members have included teachers in elementary, middle, and high school, as well as a vice principal, a program facilitator, and a principal.
The team has focused on developing relationships and intentionally collaborating with people who hold different roles, such as teachers, administrators, and union leaders. They expanded their connections by joining district committees. They leveraged their personal connections with other individuals involved in the committees and people they knew to get information and access. In turn, these connections increased the number of people in the district who were aware of teacher-led professional development and, reciprocally, increased the ILC team’s awareness of learning needs within the district. After surveying teachers and talking with district personnel, they created professional development sessions on a wide range of topics rather than focusing solely on strategies for any particular sub-group.
Individuals Developed Relationships in the District and the Union
This ILC team attributes its success to the relationships it has developed within the district and local association. Each member of the ILC team focused on meeting new people and thereby expanding the team’s network. With “infiltration” as their team motto, team members volunteered for every opportunity in the district and local association that could benefit from their expertise. They joined district committees that had openings for teachers. This strategy connected more people to the team. They discovered that district administrators replied more quickly to emails from team members they knew. Team members introduced themselves in meetings as teachers, union members, and ILC members. They also included their various roles (ILC member, NBCT, T.I.P. Mentor, etc.) in their email signatures, which resulted in some people asking, “What do the initials ‘ILC’ mean?” This question then sparked an opportunity to explain their vision for teacher-led professional development and what the ILC offered. These connections eventually led to an opportunity to meet with the Superintendent who became an advocate for the teachers-teaching-teachers model (T3) within the district. (See T3 Model below.)
The team members were also active in the local union and advocated for an Instruction and Professional Development committee (see Partnering with the Union below). Their involvement enabled them to get to know the union presidents and other union officials who also have strong relational district networks. Now, when the team is planning professional development, they make a list of their needs and the best people to contact to help meet those needs. There is always someone on the ILC team who knows the best person or who can connect them to the best person. Having an extensive network of contacts has made the work more organic and possible. Teachers in the district were encouraged by district and union leaders to apply to join the ILC. This helped the team grow its size, from two to seven members, and its capacity. New members broadened the team’s contacts, skills, and perspectives.
Developed Workshops on a Variety of Topics Met Teachers’ Needs
In the beginning, the San Bernardino ILC team focused on implementing the Common Core State Standards in English and Math, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and Universal Design for Learning. Over time, the workshop topics were based on other needs in the district. For instance, the team began reading the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) each year so they could offer to provide professional development related to goals and needs identified in the LCAP. With the help of the district and local union, the team also surveyed teachers about their professional development needs. All topics for which there was interest and someone qualified to design and lead a workshop were developed and offered. This approach was responsive to the requests of local teachers and created a rich collection of offerings.
Workshops included a combination of hands-on activities that teachers could use in their classrooms and online resources, including lesson plans. For example, one workshop focused on how to engage students in purposeful, collaborative conversation before they begin writing. Strategies offered in ILC workshops were viewed as particularly credible because these teachers also taught similar students within the same district. Another advantage of the ILC team’s offerings was that they asked for feedback and incorporated these suggestions (e.g., add more time to practice a new skill within the session) into their future workshops.
T3: Teachers Teaching Teachers Model
The ILC team held very well attended, successful half-day events in October of 2018 and 2019. Each event had over 100 participants from SBCUSD and surrounding districts. The events provided a safe space for teachers to focus on content that was relevant to them and refine their teaching practice. The relationships the ILC team members developed throughout the district through their committee work and two years of repeatedly advocating for T3 models provided a critical foundation for these events. For example, one team member’s work with the district Teacher Induction Program resulted in recruiting other teachers to present at T3 events. The district paid attending teachers for their time and also covered the facilities fees for the event. Overall, the district provided about $30,000 in financial support. The district also demonstrated their support in a variety of other ways. For example, the Superintendent attended and spoke to the group about the importance of the T3 Model at the first T3 in 2018.
During the 2020-21 school year, the team has conducted virtual T3 EdCamps and other online professional development, some of which was facilitated by ILC members from other districts so the team had a broader range of expertise to draw on. The experience has strengthened virtual training capabilities and will allow the team to work with teachers across the state and district.
Partnering With the Union
In the team’s first few years, they had to work around the local union’s calendar. Now, they embed SBCUSD ILC events into the union’s master calendar at the same time the union is planning their other events. Three of the ILC team members are current or former union board members, which enabled them to schedule PD in the union office space. The team has taken over the union’s program for Early Career Educator support. The team has plans to increase new teacher effectiveness in the areas of NGSS and English Language Development, integrated instruction, and to increase parent engagement by growing the capacity and knowledge of parents through Academic Parent Teacher Teams.
They were conducting monthly professional development before the pandemic disrupted these plans. During the pandemic, in addition to local T3 Ed Camp opportunities, the team is supporting the statewide California Teachers Association (CTA) Instruction and Professional Development (IPD) webinar series and conferences (see sidebar). Being part of the ILC formed relationships with CTA staff which in turn created opportunities for networking and collaboration beyond SBCUSD.
Next Steps: Equity Discussions
In October 2020, Sarah Apacible-Holm co-facilitated a webinar in CTA IPD’s Equity in Distance Learning series on Students with Disabilities with Kelly McArdle, a fellow ILC member from Jurupa USD. Kelly and Sara each facilitated separate IPD Instructional Rounds on Special Education two weeks later.
The ILC team has been eager to tackle equity work, but it was placed on hold while dealing with all the work shifts during the pandemic. In January 2020, the team became aware of the “Let’s Grow” movie as an opportunity to engage community members in discussions about equity. They also started a partnership with the Union Human Rights Committee to support their equity work. Their district partner will train members on how to lead discussions and then they will lead discussions for teachers and other staff on equity. The goal is to make a safe space to talk about relevant equity topics and to engage more people and spread awareness. The team began to develop the program in April 2021, in partnership with SBCUSD administrators and an Assistant Superintendent. The team plans to provide books on diversity as incentives for participating in the equity series. SBCUSD educators who have not participated in previous ILC offerings have already expressed interest in the team’s equity work, so the team also sees this as a way to reach more educators. There is also potential to broaden the equity work to members of the community. The potential for community engagement in this work is exciting.