A lot of exciting work happening in our SWIFT States. Here's a small taste!
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Looking Back—
Looking Forward

Hello to our national SWIFT community!

As we enter the year 2014, we are reflecting on how much has been accomplished during the first year of SWIFT. Phew, it has been busy! We began 2013 by identifying six knowledge development sites that exemplify the core features of SWIFT. We visited and conducted research at these sites to learn more about their practices. We also identified 64 schools across five states to begin receiving SWIFT Technical Assistance. In the summer of 2013, we hosted the Summer Professional Learning Institute (PLI) to introduce states, districts, and schools to the SWIFT stages of implementation. After the summer PLI, teams began working across states and districts to plan and launch SWIFT technical assistance across all 64 schools. Additionally, the first round of the SWIFT Fidelity of Implementation Tools (FITs) were conducted to establish a baseline for current implementation of the domains and features in the schools. During the past year, we also launched a website, an electronic field guide, a blog, and are doing our best to stay current and reach the masses through social media. Have you seen our Pinterest page? Of course, these are only a sample of the events and products from the past year, and we are grateful to everyone who helped make this year such a dizzying success.  

As we reflect on this progress, we also look towards the future at the work that is still to come. The task of improving the social and academic achievement of ALL students, including those with disabilities and those with the most significant needs, is the heart and soul of our work. We also know that it cannot be done without your support. We are counting on each of you to continue to carry the vision of “All Means All” through 2014 and beyond.  

Inclusively yours,

Wayne Sailor & Amy McCart

Notes from the Green Mountain State of VT

Shana Haines, LEA Facilitator


On January 9, 2014, teams from three Vermont SWIFT schools gathered for our monthly two hour LEA Implementation Team meeting to discuss the SWIFT Data Snapshot.  This entailed walking through all the components of the exploration stage of implementation and examining the schools' FIT results.  

This Supervisory Union (LEA) is comprised of very different rural schools which historically had a reputation for experiencing tension around sharing resources and being compared to one another.  As the LEA Facilitator, I was nervous about releasing their SWIFT scores for several reasons. First, SWIFT is a strengths-based program and I didn’t want SWIFT Coaches (Principals) to focus on their deficits as highlighted by the FIT.  Second, I was worried that the school teams would immediately compare their results, as if the FIT were a measure of how well they were doing as Principals.  Third, I was worried they would disagree with their results and become disheartened by the process.
All of my worries were put to rest during our meeting!  Instead of the SWIFT Coaches focusing solely on their deficits and becoming defensive, I heard comments such as, "It is so refreshing to have TA that is relying on data but that also gives us a chance to set our own priorities."  They loved learning about the Fidelity Integrity Assessment Tool (FIA), SWIFT's self-assessed progress-monitoring tool, and how it interfaces with the FIT.  The schools compared their FIT results from a place of curiosity rather than competition.  Teams engaged in a refreshing and welcome conversation breeding collegiality between schools that have otherwise been isolated.  One SWIFT Coach stated, “SWIFT is helping our schools shift their focus from adults to children and from teaching to learning.”  Through the support of SWIFT, teams acknowledged that Leadership Teams are modeling the use of data to drive their decisions by encouraging honest discussions about student outcomes. My nervousness was transformed to excitement as I realized our potential to be a role model for knocking down silos and working together as teams to address the needs of all Vermont students!


A Virtual Community of Practice

Communities of Practice (CoP) are not a new phenomena—this type of learning has existed for as long as people have been sharing their experiences through storytelling.  SWIFT Talk is intended to serve as a virtual vehicle for learning and sharing through the stories of our schools and communities where everyone belongs. 

If you are looking for inspiration about the classrooms of the future, check out Dan Pollitt’s latest blog about deconstructing the silos that exist between general and special education.  In this post, Dan describes the challenge of working solely within our specialty areas. “We spend a great deal of our day in our own silo—we shut our classroom door, we have difficulty finding the time to work together, and we specialize and narrow our content areas and skillset. SWIFT hopes to break these silos through unique collaborations. By including the entire faculty and staff of a school, the community, parental support, as well as local and state endeavors, we believe significant progress can be made to break these silos and provide a quality education.”  Read the whole blog here and tell us your stories!

In Mary Schuh’s recent blog, she tells the story of filming with Dan Habib at the Knowledge Development Sites.  “As a team, we were moved by the respect for diversity we encountered in every classroom, hallway, and in the school yard. I’m confident that the subtlety of this respect will be communicated through the SWIFT mini-films which will start to roll out in the spring of 2014.”  Read the post and let us know what you would like to see in the mini-films and how you envision using these films to promote inclusive practices for all students including those with the most extensive needs. 

The SWIFT Talk CoP will naturally evolve into a vibrant and engaging resource because of our common interest in school transformation; but it is the members of the group who will define the topics most relevant to our experiences transforming schools.  Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts on topics such as the role of the paraprofessional, changing roles of educators, and policy issues related to the least restrictive environment.  Please use SWIFT Talk as a place to ask questions, post your ideas, and share your stories. It is through this process of sharing our information and experiences that we learn from each other, and have the opportunity to develop ourselves personally and professionally.  Get on over to SWIFT Talk and join the Community of Practice!
Stay tuned for the next newsletter where we will be giving you the latest news from SWIFT Headquarters, Implementation State highlights, how SWIFT Runs on Research, and articles featuring blog postings. 
What do you want to know more about?  Send us a note and let us know.

This document was produced under the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant No. H326Y120005, University of Kansas, Beach Center on Disability. This product is public domain.
Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted.

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