The project was composed of two phases.
Phase One: Organizing for Action and Data Collection and Analysis.
A Project Leadership Team was established to bring greater clarity to the 21st Century Initiative and to provide general oversight. The data collection effort provided staff, students, and the community-at-large the opportunity to participate in an inclusive process, in which they discussed the current state of education in Missoula and shared their ideas about what constitutes 21st century teaching and learning. PCG Education consultants analyzed and synthesized the resulting data.
Phase Two: Vision Formation, Model Creation, and 21st Century Plan Development.
PCG Education facilitated the development of a unified vision of 21st century teaching and learning for MCPS and facilitated the creation of a 21st century model for the District through a process in which work groups examined themes and priorities that emerged from the data gathered in Phase One. Based upon the goals defined by the work groups and the changes specified by the model, PCG Education worked with the District to create a 21st Century Plan in support of 21st century teaching and learning.
In Phase One, PCG Education worked in concert with MCPS to engage as many stakeholders as possible in discussions regarding:
- The current state of teaching and learning in MCPS
- What students should know and be able to do
- How staff, parents, and the community-at-large can facilitate the development of these skills and competencies
During this phase, particular efforts were made to engage representatives of the community to ensure that multiple perspectives were reflected. MCPS offered a range of opportunities for individuals to share expectations for a 21st century education. Through membership in the Steering Committee, Building Leadership Teams, and Student Outcomes and Communication work groups, stakeholders were offered the opportunity to engage in discussions related to the current state of teaching and learning and how current capacities could be cultivated to support the development of 21st century teaching and learning.
Further, PCG Education engaged in a review of District documents; conducted focus groups, interviews, and site visits; and disseminated data collection tools in the form of surveys, checklists, and profiles. By using various data sources and providing stakeholders with multiples modes of voicing their respective visions for what 21st century teaching and learning should entail, PCG Education received a comprehensive picture of the District’s aspirations for its students, staff, and community. The firm examined these multiple data sources for common and divergent ideas amongst stakeholders in order to guide the next phase of the project.
In Phase Two, professional staff and community members were recruited to participate in the work groups that had been established around the themes and priorities that emerged in Phase One of the project. The work groups and their related priorities included the following:
- The Leadership Work Group engaged in an examination of the ways in which the District should be structured to support its schools and educators and include them in the ongoing dialogue of school change.
- The Student Outcomes Work Group continued previous discussions related to what the expanded set of 21st century attributes and outcomes should include, and began to examine how students can demonstrate the identified attributes, as well as what teachers might do to support them.
- The Instructional Design and Pedagogy Work Group examined a variety of pathways and environments that foster mastery of student outcomes, including active learning environments, project-based learning, and the institution of authentic assessment practices.
- The Professionalism Work Group explored ways to shape expectations for teachers going forward and to more intentionally support educators in their professional growth.
- The Learning Environments Work Group considered how technology and community resources could more effectively be used to facilitate 21st century teaching and learning, as well as how schools and classrooms could be arranged to better serve its students and teachers.
- The Communications and Messaging Work Group reflected on the ways in which constituents could be supported to engage fully with MCPS.
Work groups were tasked with examining their related priorities, engaging in research and discussion, and identifying the necessary changes and considerations that are related to 21st century teaching and learning. Following their thorough examination of the themes and priorities, work groups submitted their respective lists of recommended changes and supporting materials for consideration and inclusion in the 21st century teaching and learning model. They also developed vision statements related to their area of focus that informed the creation of a unified vision of 21st century teaching and learning.
After engaging with the work groups’ materials, an Action Planning Team was formed to identify existing gaps, combine related elements, and confirm that each change element was explicitly connected to what is known or understood about 21st century teaching and learning. Ultimately, the Team selected the change elements that constitute the District’s 21st Century Model of Change. From the model, goal action maps were built so that the change elements might be realized. Specifically, the Action Planning Team established goal statements and determined what steps will need to be taken to enact the identified elements of change. Taken together, the change elements, the Model of Change, and the goal action maps have resulted in a final 21st Century Plan from which the District can work as it seeks to enact its vision of 21st century teaching and learning. The following elements were included in the 21st Century Plan.
- An overall statement of purpose and vision for 21st teaching and learning
- A list of change elements and/or goals that are consistent with achieving the overall vision (i.e., the model for change)
- Student outcomes developed by MCPS
- Overall goals related to the selected change elements
- Rationales for the selection of the prioritized change elements
- The extent to which the emerging priorities are impacted by the selected change elements
- Action steps necessary for the realization of the goals
- Expected timelines for achieving the action steps
- Individual(s) responsible for ensuring that a given action step is executed
- Resources required for the execution of a given action step
- Recommended processes for action steps
- Measures of success
- The date at which progress towards realizing the goal will be reviewed
- A process for evaluating and revising action steps and goals
MCPS took significant measures to ensure that the 21st Century Plan is reflective of the needs and aspirations voiced by a variety of stakeholders, including staff, students, and the community-at-large. It is representative of the type of collective effort that the initiatives detailed in the goal action maps will require if the District is to succeed in sufficiently monitoring the progress of the initiatives, reevaluating and reconfiguring the initiatives as necessary, and ultimately creating the conditions for a more engaging learning environment that will better prepare the children of Missoula for college, career, and 21st century citizenship.