Work during the school year falls into two categories: the immediately essential and everything else. This is a reality that we can bemoan, rant about, and otherwise dislike but it is also a reality that is not likely to change. The truth is that we all have too much to do, teachers and administrators. Kids, especially those with needs outside of the norm, will take all the time and energy you have to give them and still demand more. The key to making any program like SST work, therefore, is to set it up so that it as streamlined as possible. To do that, you need to be thinking about your personnel, logistics and paperwork now.
This means a lot of legwork setting everything up and that is best done over the summer when there is actually time to think it through and do it right. The SST Coordinator can begin the process but it would help to bring together a group to talk through the process and get lots of input. Here are some things to consider.
1) Personnel – who will be part of the SST? It would help to have a mix of grade levels and subject matters. Experience is important but is not the only consideration. A teacher with 4-5 years who is constantly innovating in his or her classroom can serve you better than someone with 20 years who doesn’t. You should also consider other responsibilities so that no one is overwhelmed and unable to follow through.
2) Logistics – Create a set time for meetings and have it on the schedule before school starts, have it on any calendars that go out to teachers so they are all aware of it. The idea is for teachers to build their schedules around it, not to try and come up with a time for SST that works around everyone else.
3) Paperwork – The less time teachers have to spend scrambling to find forms or sorting out exactly how to fill them out and what “supporting material” means, the more likely they are to willingly and fully participate. Giving everyone a set at the beginning of the year is great but you’d be best off giving them a binder with several sets and a complete packet. Having an exemplar will make it much more likely that you will get useful work back from them.
Members interested in more assistance setting up their SST process should contact Monica Lesperance, the Co-operative’s Program Quality Specialist.