Different schools are equipped to implement projects in different ways. Involving all of your stakeholders in the decision-making process streamlines the implementation process. Dr. Ashley Ellis, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction at LCPS, explains that her main challenge is creating meaningful connections between teachers, schools, and community partners. “We at the district level,” she shares, “[must] provide the support and resources that are necessary to make those partnerships in the best interest of students.”
For our purposes, we have developed a Community Connections office which works to develop relationships with community partners in order to facilitate RWL experiences. Additionally, our Community Connections PBL workshop allows community partners to connect with teacher teams so that they can effectively organize RWL experiences that benefit all stakeholders.
1. Work with leadership and teacher teams to discuss appropriate ways to enlist partners.a. Allow schools the flexibility to do it their own way. b. Develop a Community Connections PBL workshop to intentionally connect teacher teams and community partners.
When developing relationships with community partners, know that there is a broad range of effective ways to collaborate. Their participation could be as simple as a student coming in one day to experience the workplace setting, coordinating a demonstration at a school site, or hosting a long-term internship. Set up these PBL events for teachers in a few schools to make sure that it works effectively. The key is to start small and build one success story at a time.
This year for our Community Connections PBL workshop, we’ve created an application process to help organize and assure clarity of the goals for teachers and businesses. We recommend managing your current list of community partners within a database to catalog and inform which ways your district can grow. Partnerships may evolve over time so gathering metrics is useful as you look back to see which organizations have worked best.
1. Actively recruit partners for job day experiences.a. Start with a manageable number of school in an annual Community Connections PBL event and include an application process for teachers. b. Create a database to track community partners.
Training teachers on implementing PBL well will ensure program success. We follow a modified version of the Gold Standard PBL model from the Buck Institute for Education. We then worked with instructional facilitators to implement the trainings in specific schools throughout the district.
Additionally, we have an administrative leadership team that we have included in trainings. This has given them the context to weave PBL into ongoing improvement plans. If your administrative team is more aware of PBL, then they can better support Real World Learning experiences for students.
1. Work with instructional facilitators to support this work at schools.
2. Have a key member from leadership deliver the Community Connections PBL workshop (we had our Assistant Superintendent implement ours).
3. Present to your administrative leadership team on expanding work-based learning opportunities so they can include it in ongoing improvement plans.
We created a school-business partnership with the goal of having this team develop and strengthen partnerships between local partners and our district. They developed communication strategies to reach out to other business to generate interest. Exposure, through short videos or blog posts, can improve public relations and prompt new relationships with your district.
We also developed a website with Real World Learning resources for teachers. The goal of this website was to reinforce the topics covered at PBL workshops and generate interest from other teachers to facilitate RWL sessions in their classrooms. Our district prioritizes the use of social media and even has a dedicated television channel to broadcast news to the residents of our districts. We believe digital storytelling to be our greatest currency.
1. Increase communication strategies for RWL with a school / business partnership team.
a. Develop short videos to showcase RWL examples.
b. Develop a website with resources for teachers using RWL.