Progress is being made on closing achievement gaps by teachers who are developing innovative ways of addressing student needs. As we continue to make strides, we get closer to our promise of equity for all students so that they are able to thrive academically, socially and civically.
We will see a transformation in our special education programs as a result of the renewed commitment to collaboration by our schools and teachers, creating equitable learning experiences for our most vulnerable students.
Here are some school-level examples of best practices around collaboration that are contributing to advancements in equity. These practices align with School Design Principle: Infrastructure, Use of Time, which states:
Time is a construct of the school design model with high value placed on student and teacher collaboration, on flexibility in support of a dynamic learning environment, and on opportunities to iterate. School creatively uses time to its advantage and cultivates learning opportunities within and outside of the school day and classroom. Time is used in a way to support creativity, exploration, design, peer teaching, research and showcases of learning with a rigorous, standards based instructional framework.
Alvah Scott Elementary: Alvah Scott Elementary provides special education teachers with sub days for workshops, meetings, report cards and Individualized Education Programs (IEP). Wednesday afternoons are also designated for special education teachers to collaborate. Special education teachers are encouraged to collaborate with their respective grade levels at data team meetings and during faculty meetings.
Heeia Elementary: Heeia Elementary provides each grade level a “Rotation Day,” where students rotate between specialty classes for the entire day, freeing up time for teachers, including specia education teachers, to meet. Teachers have the entire day to plan, collaborate, and discuss student progress. Special education teachers are able to discuss upcoming IEPs or parent concerns as a team.
Keaau Elementary: Each month at Keaau Elementary, special education teachers are provided with substitutes so they can participate in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) day. In addition, every Wednesday after school, special education teachers have collaboration time with general education teachers. Every three weeks, special education teachers also have two 90-minute blocks during the school day to have a PLC collaboration time with general education teachers. Special education teachers are also allowed to request substitute days for IEP writing and preparation.
Keonepoko Elementary: Substitute days are provided for teachers to write and prepare IEPs at Keonepoko Elementary. A dedicated special education department head with no teaching line provides assistance and support for professional development and serves as a substitute for teachers who need to attend IEP meetings. Special education teachers also participate in PLCs for collaboration time. The school plans to establish a schedule in the near future that allows co-teaching teams to have additional planning time.
Radford High: Radford High set up a floating prep period for each special education teacher, who can use the time for IEP prep, collaboration time or IEP meetings. Thursday afternoons are also designated solely for IEP meetings so no other school meetings are scheduled. Inclusion teams are provided with scheduled collaboration times to meet twice a semester to plan and discuss students.
Waiakea High: For the past five years, Waiakea High administration and staff have supported a collaborative structure for their special education department. The school has a full-time special education teacher dedicated as an IEP drafter and meeting facilitator for the majority of the special education students. The department head also assists with any challenging or extremely time-consuming IEPs and handles unique transition cases. Having dedicated staff members provide floating support to the entire department has helped to streamline what can typically be time-consuming processes.
As you can see from these examples, school-based teams need to design their infrastructure based on their school design and their specific school and community needs, while maximizing teacher instructional time with students. A one-size-fits-all approach is not helpful.
By embracing collaboration and innovation, we are open to learning from one another, discovering new ways to elevate our collective work, which will ultimately improve our students’ learning experience. Collaboration will play an integral role in helping us to develop and achieve our 2030 promises.
Your feedback wanted on the 2030 Promise Plan!
The Hawaii State Student Council met over the weekend and added their insight on the 2030 Promise Plan with some great action items for the public school system to consider. They know better than anyone what is helping them and their peers, what isn’t working, and what they would like to see broadly implemented instead of just accessible for the lucky few. Some of the great ideas that were shared: A HĀ student summit, free AP exams, career-paired curriculum to better support non-college-bound students, and forming a student union.
Our aim with the 2030 Promise Plan is a diverse portfolio of excellent schools that support a thriving, sustainable state grounded in the values of HĀ. We have launched a step-by-step toolkit to support staff and community groups to collectively add their input through Aug. 1. Access it on our website here: http://bit.ly/HIDOESP-P1. I look forward to your feedback!