Communicating School Redesign
Communicating School Redesign
COMMUNICATING SCHOOL REDESIGN engages youth-adult teams as a school’s communications hub to build public understanding and support for educational redesign. CSR employs an evidence-based communications approach called strategic framing and is built on an action research model. The teams construct campaigns to effectively engage all sectors of the community in dialogue about why schools are changing.
A youth-adult team is formed by each participating school. Generally there are 6-8 youth and 2-4 adults on a team. Adults receive graduate school credit for their year long participation, while high school youth members receive high school or dual enrollment credit. The course structure affords the school teams the necessary training and teaming time to address their ambitious goals. It honors their time-commitment in the currency of schools – academic credit!
The teams learn about “strategic framing”, a research-based approach to communicating school redesign. They conduct research to understand how all stakeholders in their community view educational changes. And, they are taught powerful dialogue facilitation skills as the primary means to engage their community in their communications campaigns. They also learn how to be a highly functioning youth-adult team, working in partnership toward a common goal. It is not uncommon for the teams to continue CSR work for a second or third year, to fully realize their desired impact. Ideally, this youth-adult action research team is folded into the basic infrastructure of the school decision making process.
The CSR graduate and dual enrollment/college credit course is founded on building knowledge and skills to design and implement an evidence-based strategy for building public will for school redesign.
This strategy has three parts:
- Creating a common narrative of why schools need to be redesigned
- Identifying opportunities for meaningful dialogue in school and community contexts
- Engaging youth and adults and change agents
Adults receive master’s level credit and students have an option of high school credit or dual enrollment/college credit if they are in their junior or senior years. All higher education credit options are through Southern New Hampshire University.
In 2013, Helen Beattie of UP for Learning and Jane Feinberg of Full Frame Communications, collaborated to design and teach a year-long credit bearing course in Vermont called “Communicating School Redesign Through the Youth-Adult Partnership Lens.” A year later, Daniel Baron from the School Project Foundation joined the faculty, with a focus on dialogue skill development. CSR was developed in collaboration with the Agency of Education to ensure an accessible communications model to help schools build support for mandated changes – specifically personalized learning and proficiency-based assessment implementation. Rather than filling this void with an adult-only solution, UP for Learning offered a youth-adult model to address this critical task. During this time, a messaging theme of “Shaping Our Future Together” was developed.
For a variety of reasons this theme was not sustained on a state-wide level. A number of the tools and strategies still include this logo and theme.The CSR initiative has been offered every subsequent year. In 2014 an Advisory Board was formed from leaders in the Governor’s Office, the Agency of Education, the Vermont School Boards Association, the Vermont Business Roundtable, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation and the Partnership for Change in Burlington/Winooski. This board played a formative role in the early design of this initiative. CSR has become a core initiative of UP for Learning, and is offered every year. As of the 2017-18 school year, we have served 18 school teams.
What people are saying about CSR
The satisfying part about this work so far is realizing that I’m going to make a difference even though it might take longer then I would like.
Communicating School Redesign Course Youth Participant
Our three youth are setting the bar pretty high for our group and have awesome ideas on how to move forward.
Communicating School Redesign Course Adult Participant
We don’t just need to educate the community about the changes that will be taking place in our educational system, we need to change the policies and culture in order to prepare for those changes.
—Ryland O’Connell, student.
The content of this course should be required for all the AOE and school leaders. For schools to change in the way they need to, they need to be able to communicate with the outside world well; these are the strategies to do that effectively.
— CSR Adult Team member - South Burlington High School
Stories on the Road to Proficiency Videos and Guide
CSR Mental Models Research Data Summary Reports:
For the past four years, CSR teams have conducted a quantitative survey to assess the mental models that student body and faculty hold regarding education and learning. They utilize this data to inform their campaign development. Below are summaries of the aggregate findings of these teams, including the first year qualitative research alternative.