Description of the video:
Welcome again to the continuation of the Early Childhood Center's webinar series, looking at what it takes to implement effective, inclusive preschool services. I am Michael Conn-Powers. I am Director of the Early Childhood Center located, at the Indian Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University. This part of the series is focusing on adopting high-quality, inclusive service models. Starting points, and this is the third webinar in that series. My agenda for the February portion of our Center's webinar series has really focused on those starting points. That includes taking the time to think about our destination. And of course, our destination or hoped destination, is to look at high-quality, inclusive preschool services for young children with disabilities. And in the first webinar, I focused specifically on that topic. Then in the second webinar, I talked about preparation, a starting point, and introduced and talked about our roadmap that borrows from implementation science and the importance of the exploration stage. In this webinar. I will continue with that roadmap and the use of implementation science principles and talk about next steps and implementing a plan for change. Specifically in moving away from segregated preschool special education services and developmental preschool programs and making the change to more inclusive service delivery models. My goals for this webinar series, are 1. to re-imagine services that are more inclusive and support membership and friendships and engagements. I wanted to introduce you to the elements of implementation science and then make you aware of the steps that you can take to begin effecting change and your own school district. Because we cross-reference our training with the Division for Early Childhood Recommended Practices. I identified two leadership practices that reflect the focus of the February webinar series. Both leaders advocating for policies and resources that support DEC statements on practice and establishing the partnerships to create coordinated and inclusive services. In the earlier webinars, I introduced the tenants of implementation science. And this notion of a roadmap that covers four important stages for programs and school districts. to undergo change to be able to adopt new and best practices that we know bring about desired outcomes for children and families. And I'm borrowing heavily from the work of NIRN, the National Implementation Research Network at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. And in fact, I was in a training just last week by Karen Ward who works at Chapel Hill. And she shared this graphic and I'm, I'm borrowing, giving her credit. That shows these four stages and sort of the, the basic function of each. Last week, I talked about exploration and the importance at that stage of taking the time to examine the model and practices you wish to adopt. And assessing how well that model fits, how feasible it is and how well it addresses the needs of the children and families in your community. This week, we're going to talk about installation and installation follows exploration. And it focuses on assuring that we're ready, that we have the resources, the supports, the training in order for us to move to initial implementation. Initial implementation looks at starting and working with select pilot elementary schools or preschool classrooms. Someone that will help us to take it on first and for us to learn and to demonstrate that we can do it and do it well, before we move on to full implementation and look at generalizing across all of our program or all of our district. I also borrow from a relatively new document, implementation stages planning tool, again, offered through NIRN, the National Implementation Research Network. And you can find it on their website. And this document is very helpful in outlining the key outcomes and steps along this journey. So in this webinar, I really want to focus on the installation stage of adopting new practices. After we've done the heavy exploration work, we know we've got a model, an inclusive preschool service delivery model and practices that we know will work in our district and that we can adopt it and we can make it fit with changes and training and services. Once we've answered those questions, it's time to prepare and put pieces into place that will allow us to implement that model. And that's the installation stage. Now, I've worked for many years to help support school districts and agencies and adopt a new best practices. And the inclination is... I've got this new practice, I've got this new model. Let's just start implementing it. And we want to jump right to that. And more often than not, if it's not, if planning and preparation doesn't happen, then that initial implementation fails. Because inevitably we run into roadblocks or barriers, or finding that we don't have the skills or supports that are necessary for the successful implementation of that model. So if we want to start, if we want to, jump into implementation, there are things that we need to have in place. And so these are the outcomes of successful installation stage of work. 1. we have a successful well-functioning implementation team made up of people who have the authority to authorize and support those changes. Includes people who will help to champion and monitor and manage those changes. And it also includes teachers and therapists who are going to be the ones implementing that change so they are able to provide their perspective. And it's a team that functions well. Fidelity measures. That means that we have a clear understanding of what these new service models and practices will look like. And we've developed assessment measures so that we can ensure and assure that we are implementing what we said we'd implement and implementing. Well. There are infrastructure support, some place we know will take support and professional development and ongoing coaching. It may need required interagency agreements. If we're working with community programs. We know that people need to be trained. Very few of our practitioners have the skill and training to implement high-quality, inclusive service delivery models. And then that last component, it takes a two-way communication. We need to be sure that we're communicating with the district and at stake holders, family members, community members. And we also need to make sure that it's two-way so that we have feedback loops. So in this webinar, I want to talk about some of the activities that we can put into place to successfully install the opportunity to implement best practices that we are choosing to adopt. Okay, so first, we have an implementation team that has the capacity to support the implementation. The Implementation team is sort of the nexus for ensuring that the district is successful in adopting these new best practices around inclusive services for preschoolers with disabilities. We need to make sure that members of that team have the knowledge, the skills, the functions, and the authority to make it happen. That means you've got someone, from the superintendent or superintendent's office that can authorize the changes that are going to need to happen. That you've got people who are familiar with the models and practices. That have the knowledge that can champion and articulate that vision of moving forward. And then we have stakeholders, whether it's teachers and therapists who will be implementing these changes or principles in our elementary schools that will help to lead that change at the building level. Or family members who will be recipients of the services that can help us. Remember why we're doing this in the first place. It is a team that needs to meet regularly and have the time and the support to do its job well. And as it's setting up, it needs to have the capacity to meet on a regular basis so that they can manage and oversee the changes as they're implemented. Once we move into the initial implementation phase, they are the ones that will be the problem solvers. So once things get started, they're the ones that are going to manage and ensure that we have all the infrastructure supports in place. These are the folks that make it happen. We need to focus on this thing called Fidelity. And I'm a big believer in this maxim, what gets measured, gets done. And this focuses on the actual service models and practices that we're wanting to adopt. In the first webinar, I talked about various service models. You might have a Push-in service model, you might have a consultative service model. You might have a co-teaching service model, or you might just ought to develop a one-size-fits-all model in which a single teacher is a teacher of record and provides the special ed services. It is also the classroom teacher for all young preschoolers. Regardless of the model or models that you choose, you need to take the time to articulate and clearly define the specific practices that comprise that model. You need to have a clear understanding of what are the essential functions and practices that comprise successful push-in model, for example, what does that look like? What are the practices of successful push -in inclusive special education and related services? And then once you have a clear understanding of what those practices are, you need to have clear, measurable indicators. Because these practices, they're not rocket science, but they're not easy. You need to ensure that people have the training and are implementing these practices with fidelity or you will fail. You will have a program that's poorly implemented. So this, this focus on fidelity is to pull together assessment, both assessment measures and practices that you will use to monitor implementation of these new service models. And as well as criteria for success. That is, if it takes ten practices for special educators to successfully implement push-in practices, you know, they have they have to embed those special education services in typical classroom routines. And within the classroom that might be a practice. There are specific ways and delivering that special ed and related services that it happens within the flow and the curriculum or the classroom. It isn't disruptive to the classroom routine and what's going on with all the other children. It may be that it happens in the context of small group or free time and involves other children without disabilities. So you have same age peers that are helping you. It provides, you know, we look at practices around imbedded instruction and what is comprised in the evidence-based practice of embedded instruction. So and taking the time, we almost define the curriculum that will be our, our training and professional development curriculum, but also our assessment. And that means that we'll be measuring and assessing how well our practitioners implement those models. So we take the time, define what those practices are. We have those clear, measurable indicators so someone can show up in the classroom and observe and have a way of clearly assessing if those practices are taking place or not. or taking place with a sufficient quality. We defined fidelity and this is important. How do we know when we are successfully there? And this is all bundled up into a performance assessment. It's not used for evaluating teachers. It's not teacher evaluation. It is for the purpose of ensuring that we're implementing these practices successfully. Then we also need to look at an another big responsibility during this installation stage is this caring and developing infrastructure supports. Any change is going to involve big changes throughout the system. If we want to ensure that what we're doing is successfully done, we have to make sure that supports are in place. This can involve policies, procedures, and agreements. I put in the agreements there. If your model involves working with the local Head Start or community childcare preschool program, then you're probably going to have to take the time to negotiate interagency agreements for how we will work together to provide high-quality, inclusive early education services for all children. If it involves new policies and procedures that take teachers out of the classroom as a classroom teacher. And starts to redefine their role and position as a as a consultant or a co-teacher, then those policies and procedures need to take and effect change. Another big part is initial training and ongoing coaching. I alluded to this earlier. These are new practices. It requires new skills. And one of the areas that we find that sometimes districts want to rush in and do on the cheap is training and ongoing coaching. You know, we'll do some, will do a two-day training at the beginning of the school year and we'll call it done. Well, some of these practices require more than a couple of days. And what we know about adult learning is the importance of ongoing coaching. We can have the best five-day training to get people up to snuff with the knowledge and beginning skills are required for high-quality inclusive services. But if we don't follow that with ongoing coaching, as the teachers implement those new skills in their classrooms or in the regular early childhood classrooms. We know that those skills won't stick. So it means that we put together and have in place the resources and the experts to provide that ongoing training and coaching. Some of these models require ongoing resources and supports for some of the districts we've been working with that want to build on the efforts to establish pre-K programs in their district. And they're looking at those as placement for children with disabilities. There may be the need for additional resources and supports to make that happen. I mentioned training, but it may involve providing substitute release time for the regular early childhood classroom teachers to participate in some of that training. So they acquire the skills to universally design their classrooms and their curriculum and their teaching to accommodate a greater diversity of learners. There may be supports and materials that are going to be needed to make those classrooms well-equipped for all children. And so taking the time to think about the resources and supports that need to be in place is also part of this installation stage. And making sure we have the infrastructure in place to support it. And then the fourth piece is data and access to data and supports to use it. This implementation science model relies a great deal on data. It relies on data during exploration and ensuring that we've done a good job of assessing the feasibility and fit of the models we want to adopt and our capacity to implement it. And as we get ready to implement the desired models, we need to have an ongoing data collection system so we can see how well we're doing, how well we're implementing the changes and how well those changes are being made in the classrooms. So data for the implementation team to be able to monitor its progress in implementing these infrastructure supports? Are we able to provide the training and ongoing coaching? Is everybody accessing that training? What do we do to support ongoing training and coaching? And are we implementing that effectively? And then are the special educators and regular classroom teachers and therapists. Are they learning and practicing the skills based on that fidelity assessment I talked just talked about earlier. So that data helps us to chart. Are we doing what we said we would do in preparing and implementing this change? And two, is it having an impact? Are we affecting changes and in the desired service models and service practices that we've targeted. And then over time, are we having the desired impact on the children and families? So data is very important and it, it helps to inform and guide the implementation team. But also you can use it to create a culture of data informed decision-making with the classroom teachers and special education and, and, and therapists so that they can see they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. They're doing it well. And they can begin to monitor their impact and their collective impact on children's learning and development. So taking the time to secure and develop these infrastructure supports is a tremendously important part of this installation stage. We cannot take on the change began implementing that change unless we know we have all the necessary supports in place or, or we will fail. And it's, as you begin to think about this installation phase now and all that's involved, you can see where if we don't do this, then our efforts to implement the change may be doomed for failure. Okay, the next element, an important outcome of this installation stage is the plan and planning. Obviously after we've talked about making sure that our models are well-defined and we have fidelity measures. We've talked about the infrastructure supports we need to have in place that's going to take time. And that means we need to have a plan. And part of that plan is pulling those resources together. But they're also the plan for implementation. And when we start to think about moving into initial implementation, there are some key things we need to have as part of our plan. First, who's gonna go first? A big recommendation as a district or an agency move towards adoption is spending some time thinking about who will be your initial field test or pilot classrooms or buildings or sites. That's important. You're not gonna do this system-wide it. You're going to start small. You're going to test it out. You're going to make sure that the model and the practices make sense and they still have that fit feasibility. We're also going to test to make sure we do have all the infrastructure supports in place and that we can execute it. And, and so where do we start first? Instead of just jumping in across the whole district, we should pick a handful of sites to do this. And so who makes that first-cut? Who do we want to go with first? Well, that's a a conversation, that's a decision. The implementation team. Now you might choose to go with teachers and therapists who are on board and have good skills and practices and philosophically believe that this is a good practice so that you start with them. You know, you're not going to be waging the philosophical battles. And that their hearts are in the right place. And, and it's going to be a true test of the model and the infrastructure support. So you might start with folks that are on board and have good skill and knowledge at implementing this. So that might be part of the logic. You might have other criteria that guide who goes first. You know, you may be looking at buildings and that you've got leadership with the principal and the building that is strong, or that there is logic that they go first, one of the districts that we worked with that was very much a part of the decision-making. In that particular school. There was support and logic for the special education preschool classroom teachers to move away from classroom delivery and do co-teaching and push in services because of the strength of the regular early childhood classrooms in that school and the willingness for them to take it on. So there are a number of reasons why and it's just important to take some time and ask who do we want to go first and why, what's the criteria? Whether you're starting with strength and the people or maybe it's being strategic about the locations in schools or the sites that You take on first, how will we train and coach those folks? How will we make sure that they have the skills and capacity to implement these inclusive service models and practices. And who's going to be the coach? Do you have the expertise within your school district? Do you have folks like ourselves at the Early Childhood Center who you can ask and turn to provide the training. And perhaps this help with the coaching. That's part of what we've been doing over the past two or three years in working with districts to provide ongoing training and even coaching. Even during the pandemic, we'd been using some virtual coaching tools that allow us to coach individual teachers from a distance and using technology. So again, that plan of how you're going to execute all of the work you've been doing as an implementation team starts to fall out here. Again, data, data, data. Who has it? How are we gonna collect it? How are we going to compile it? How are we going to make it available? In a useful and usable format so that we can make informed decisions as an implementation team. Who's going to help us in doing those fidelity assessments? How are we going to ensure that the training took place and that people are feeling good and comfortable with the new knowledge and skills. How are we ensuring that the coaching supports for putting in place are being implemented and carried out, carried out well. And that the teachers and therapists are acquiring the skills. All of those are data decisions. And they will make or break the success of your implementation plan. Because mistakes will happen, you will run into problems. And there will be some folks that are going to struggle to learn these new skills. A data system will help you to identify those problems are struggles very early on and help you to problem-solve. And then finally, taking the time to define success. You know, let's say you decide to pilot with one or two or three of your special educators and their classrooms and moving those children into regular ed classrooms. So over the course of the year and initial implementation, how do you define that you're doing it well, it's going well, we are successful. And it's time to start to add new staff and new classrooms and new sites as we start to scale up. So taking the time to think about what is success that teachers and therapists are implementing their practices and implementing them well. And that we're seeing data that indicates that children are learning and people are feeling good about the change and feel it and it's working and that children and families are learning and feeling good about those changes. So we can say, all right, it's time to bring in the next three classrooms or the next building. So spending time defining what success is so that you don't just happen stance in your movements forward. Finally, communication. In our experience, change is hard. We are asking people to do business differently. We have seen a lot of questions and resistance and concerns about moving to more inclusive service models. And so if we don't provide information and communication and an opportunity for people to voice their concerns and hesitancy and have them addressed. Then we are setting ourselves up for failure and failure because of people being confused and executing poorly. Or for people who are not on board and may passively or actively sabotage those efforts. And so taking the time to set up and implement this ongoing two-way communication is key because we need to make sure people are informed and they're not making up information because there's an absence or a vacuum of information. We want to make sure we're clear about the direction we're going as a district and where we are and what stage we're in and what the plan and the timeline is. Everyone is informed and that there are opportunities for them to be able to share their questions. And as they experience problems, there's the feedback loop. And that goes back to that implementation team or to the school's leadership. So that we're all on board. We're all, you know, communicating and working together. So the putting in place those mechanisms, how is it that if I'm, a classroom teacher or speech and language therapist, and I have questions or concerns about how I'm going to do this. Who do I go to? I go to my building principle. Do I go to the special ed director or the preschool coordinator? Do I go to the person that's champion in this, that's part of the implementation team. If it's not clear what the lines of communication are, that's going to be frustrating for folks. If we don't provide who's providing the message? I mean, we have principles. They are generally the building leaders. So is the implementation team putting together the communication that goes down, goes up, comes from the superintendent's office, you know, with the work of the implementation team. And it goes to the building leadership. And it's the building leadership that provides information and communication about this initiative and the rolling out of these inclusive service models. So again, taking the time to think about what the communication plan will be and how it's executed and and what the lines of communication are. So that if I have questions, I need to know more. I've got something, some concerns. What do I do with that key piece, key piece of the stage of, of installation. So, you know, in this webinar we spent some time so far and talking about these first two stages. And and that's as far as I'm going to get, we're going to move to some very different topics and start to explore some of these inclusive service practices that I've alluded to in these three webinars. But I wanted to start with the importance of taking the time to look at that exploration and installation phases are my own experience and I know the experience of the folks at the National Implementation Research Network is that so many efforts fail. So many efforts and initiatives to adopt new models and practices fail in their implementation because we didn't spend enough time during exploration and installation. It can take a year and maybe even more for exploration and installation to occur. And so for someone that wants to start, you know, this is February and they want to rock and roll and have this off the ground and being implemented at the start of the next school year in the fall? Well, that might be unrealistic because we have to ask the question, will this give us enough time for that exploration and installation to occur? I encourage you and I've, I've shared references to the work of NIRN and folks like Karen Ward that works for the SSIP project that looks at state implement, and implementation change, have wonderful resources. And we're in the process of developing a new website that will use this model of change and provide some kind of step-by-step planning for our districts here in Indiana. I'll close. On February 23rd, I believe at four PM. I will have open forum. It will be live. That's an opportunity. If you're interested to join me with questions that you might have about what I've shared and the work that we're doing and the initiative we're undertaking as part of our collaboration with the Indiana Department of Education. Our website at the Early Childhood Center where you found this webinar, there should be links to register for that forum. So we have a sense of how many people are joining us. And I hope to see you there and please come with questions. Thank you for joining me again. There's my contact information. If you should have any questions, please feel free to email me. Thank you again for joining me.