How can Mr. Irwin build support for adopting the RTI approach at Mayflower Elementary?
Page 5: Identify Key Individuals
The first step in building support is to identify a small representative group of key individuals. School leaders should do this because people often find it more manageable to build support for a new approach by starting with a small group of individuals than by immediately presenting the idea to the entire faculty.
Listen to Pearl Sims discuss how to build support among staff members with differing perspectives (time: 0:52).
Pearl Sims, PhD
Former Director, Leadership Development Center
Although Mr. Irwin believes that the RTI approach would improve student outcomes and would allow struggling students to receive systematic instructional interventions in the early grades, he wants to find out what others think about RTI. In addition to school personnel, parents and community partners (e.g., a corporate partner, a tribal leader) may provide important insight about and community support for RTI. To accomplish this, Mr. Irwin schedules an informal meeting with a small group of key personnel, rather than with the entire faculty, to share what he has learned about the RTI process, to illustrate how it could impact student performance, and to initiate a discussion about RTI. The table below provides a list of the individuals Mr. Irwin is inviting to the meeting.
|Grade-level chairs||Ms. Whitaker (K)
Mrs. Molotiu (1st)
Mrs. Nguyen (2nd)
Ms. Peden (3rd)
Mr. Brinkerhoff (4th)
|School counselor||Mrs. Pharris|
|Special education||Mrs. Ramsey|
|School psychologist||Mrs. Aldridge|
|Parent representative||Mr. Guiterrez|
|Community representative||Mr. Woodard – Tyler Food, Corporate partner|
Mr. Irwin wants to make sure that all staff members who might be affected by this new approach are represented at the meeting. Additionally, Mr. Irwin knows that it is important to include individuals who are instrumental in implementing school-related initiatives. Consequently, he is careful to include not only grade-level team leaders but also other staff members who are respected, experienced, and attuned to the school climate. For example, Mr. Irwin invites Mrs. Pharris to attend the meeting. She has been in education for 20 years, first as a teacher and now as a school counselor, and is respected by her colleagues.
For Your Information
- When considering adopting a new approach or program that will require significant change in the school, it is important to include key personnel in the initial decision-making process. The viewpoints of these personnel should be representative of the viewpoints of the school staff.
- These key personnel will be instrumental in encouraging their colleagues to support the school-wide change.
- Even though it is tempting to exclude people who typically resist change, it is important to remember that they can be very helpful in evaluating a new system and are often the ones who can point out potential pitfalls.
The group of key personnel may vary depending on the size of the school, but it should remain relatively small (i.e., 10 to 12 individuals) in order to facilitate effective communication and decision-making. When selecting these individuals, the principal may want to create a representative group whose members display unique strengths that, as a whole, reflect the following qualities:
- Great communication skills
- Ability to think about the big picture
- Willingness to learn
Think about the school you are currently working at (or your most recent school experience) and develop a list of key individuals whom you would invite to a meeting when considering a school-wide change. Make sure to list their positions in the school or community.
- How hard or easy was it to develop the list?
- What factors did you consider when selecting the individuals?
- Did you select individuals who consistently participate in school committees? Is this a representative group of individuals?
- Did you include an individual who often resists change? Why or why not?