Archived InformationTools for Schools - April 1998
A key to program delivery is the program-affiliated national facilitators. Employed full-time by the program, facilitators are drawn from teachers and school administrators who have been active in implementing and using the program in their schools. They are trained using a buddy system teamed with a seasoned facilitator to observe training in schools and then to deliver training in schools while being observed. The costs of recruiting and training new facilitators is covered by the program as part of the professional development fees charged to schools and districts.
Schools may become aware of the Comprehensive School Reform Program in a variety of ways,
such as articles in educational journals and magazines, presentations at conferences or awareness
videos and materials, including books describing the program and its outcomes. Given initial
awareness, schools or districts invite program staff to make awareness presentations. Schools also
send delegations to visit other schools in their region where the program is being implemented.
Given interest after awareness activities, comprehensive school reform model program staff visit the
district to work out financial and training arrangements and to negotiate an understanding of what
the district, school, and program responsibilities will be. The program is then presented to the whole
staff of each interested school. Following opportunities to examine materials, visit other schools,
and discuss among themselves, school staffs vote by secret ballot to implement the program. This
exercise is essential in that it assures teachers that they had a free choice and that the program is
supported by the great majority of their colleagues.
| Planning for Implementation
A national trainer from the Comprehensive School Reform Program staff is appointed to serve as the
school's lead contact. A school facilitator is then chosen, usually an experienced and respected
teacher from within the school's own staff. The facilitator (and often the principal as well) attend a
week-long training session, held well in advance of training for the school staff. This gives the
facilitators and principals time to work out issues of staffing, space, finances, and ordering and
| Initial Professional Development
A 2- to 3-day professional development session is provided prior to implementation of the program.
This initial development is typically done by the school's lead contact, other staff from the central
program or regional training sites, and staff developers who are facilitators or teachers in existing
| On-Going On-Site Staff Development and Technical Assistance
Follow-up visits and continuing staff development are conducted by program facilitators. These
facilitators strengthen the skills of the building facilitators by jointly conducting an implementation
review in which they visit classes, interview teachers and administrators, and look at student data.
The facilitators model ways of giving feedback to teachers, give the building facilitators advice on
solving their problems, share perspectives on strengths and weaknesses of the program, and plan
with the building facilitator the goals for individual teachers and for general program
implementation that the facilitator will follow up on. The facilitators meet with teachers to provide
additional training, respond to questions and discuss issues needing further attention.
| Local Support Networks
Local schools that have successfully implemented a whole school reform professional development program know the details of the program and how to make it work in an environment very similar to that of the new school. Experienced and new schools can establish "mentoring" relationships in which staff exchange visits, materials, and ideas. School-to-school mentoring lets the teachers, facilitators, and principals in successful schools share their wisdom of practice and hard-won experience. It gives new schools an attainable vision of what comprehensive school reform should be like and gives staffs of new schools support when they run into problems or opposition.
Local support networks also sponsor local conferences around the comprehensive school reform
program to bring large numbers of local school personnel together to benefit from each other's
expertise. Through local networking, staff members from different schools are able to suggest new
ways of solving problems or looking at common issues.
| National Network
Systemic and lasting change is far more likely when schools work together as part of a national network in which they share a common vision and a common language, share ideas and technical assistance, and create an emotional connection and support system. The network, at the least, sponsors an annual conference which offers valuable information on new developments and new ideas; builds connections between the experienced schools so that they can share ideas on issues of common interest and build significant relationships with other schools pursuing similar objectives; issues a communications newsletter and conducts other communications activities; and, in general, seeks to create an esprit de corps, and pride in what has been accomplished through the comprehensive school reform program.
Implementation research has long noted the need for teacher commitment and teacher ownership in
the school reform process. The Comprehensive School Reform Professional Development Program
promotes initial teacher and administrator buy-in through extensive early awareness activities that
culminate in a school-wide commitment to implement the comprehensive school reform program.
Through local and national networks, teacher-school contributions to the implementation of the
program build recognition of teacher efforts and produce ownership.