Waugh and Old Adobe’s Sustainability Story
Highlighted ILC Principle: Cohere and align with local initiatives and funding sources. Learn more about the ILC Project Principles.
This blog entry focuses on the professional development work the Waugh Elementary School District and Old Adobe Union School District ILC team in Sonoma County has designed that is centered on designing meaningful adult learning and developing equity-centered instructional practice.
ILC members from Waugh SD have been part of the ILC for 6 years. These members have worked with colleagues in the Old Adobe USD for 3 years to develop teacher-led professional development (PD) aligned with local needs across their districts. The team’s unique composition, which has always included administrators and teachers from each district, has helped the ILC members to cohere and align their PD with local initiatives and funding sources.
Local Fiscal Investment in Teacher-Led Professional Development
Because local administrators were part of the team, both districts were able to provide funding to support the team’s ILC work. This funding demonstrated that the districts valued teachers’ knowledge and expertise in facilitating professional learning. Both districts pay teacher presenters to prepare PD sessions, showcase and honor the work teachers do at Board meetings, and communicate their work to the community in school and district newsletters. In addition, Old Adobe USD has provided funding to teachers to attend 5 days of PD, including sessions led by ILC teachers. Waugh SD also pays teachers to attend PD.
Alignment with Local County Office Initiatives
In 2018–19, the team aligned with the iEngage initiative of the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) to support ongoing professional learning led by local educators. With the support of SCOE staff, the ILC team developed a project focused on universal design that included multiple teacher leaders. They had model training for a day focused on a myriad of topics that were driven by teacher need and desire to learn. Waugh SD invested in flyers, posters, tablecloths and lunch to make the participants feel important and each teacher chose what they wanted to do. Participants were given a menu of PD choices. To plan subsequent professional learning sessions, teams of local teachers attended a summer workshop where they brainstormed ideas of what they wanted staff development to look like for the following year. With their input, sessions were planned that focused on mindfulness, empathy in teaching, and NGSS.
The team has also aligned with another SCOE initiative, the Rooster Fellowship, which considers ways to increase student achievement through data analysis and instructional practices. For example, in Old Adobe USD, they have conducted empathy interviews with students (see story here). The team encourages teachers to actively experiment and collaborate in reflective conversations to improve student engagement.
Local Equity Initiatives
The Waugh SD was awarded a $10,000 “Confronting Discrimination and Hate” grant by the Petaluma Educational Foundation (PEF), a local non-profit. The ILC team wanted to move beyond the message of anti-bullying and become more reflective and assertive in how people approach hatred, implicit bias, racism and equity in schools and in education as a whole. The grant funds the team to collaborate with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on designating their schools as “No Place for Hate” schools. After experiencing the ADL training, the team planned to work with SCOE to expand the work to other schools in Sonoma County. The PEF saw the importance of the partnership with the ADL and understood the teachers’ strong desire to foster systemic changes related to equity. The team hopes to spread the ADL work to Old Adobe next year. The PEF was willing to invest in this work once they got to know the ILC team and recognized this group of teachers was willing to dig into the important, yet challenging, equity work.
Teachers planned to learn from antiracism specialists and lead PD for their colleagues. They had planned to start at the beginning of the 2019–20 school year, but Sonoma County fires delayed implementation. The ILC team’s collaboration with ADL had just started when COVID-19 impacted professional learning efforts. In the 2021–2022 school year, they will continue the work that was started with such intention last year. The team has already incorporated their learning thus far from the ADL work and from the social justice books from the ILC project into lessons for students (see example here).
To sustain and expand equity efforts, this ILC team has also used ILC Mini-Grants ($500) to deepen relationships with other local partners. For example, the team has supported the development of a district-wide Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Council in Old Adobe USD that will ensure that the benefits of PTA membership reach students and families across the district.
In Old Adobe USD, the team has supported the efforts of the Equity Coalition, a group of teachers who meet bimonthly to talk about issues which arise due to the inequity in the community. For example, while two district schools hold galas and balls that raise tens of thousands to fund programs for their students, other sites don’t have as much parent participation in fundraising events.
Next Steps for the Team’s Work
The team plans to continue the equity work with the ADL funded by PEF that began in 2019–20 and has now been extended to the PTA Council and Equity Coalition. For instance, they will use the PD days at the beginning of the year to share the lesson plans focused on social justice and equity-centered children’s literature that they developed this year. They also hope to deepen their partnerships with other local initiatives focused on equity such as Amor Para Todos.