Excellence. Equity. And All Means All.
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Issue 8, March 2014

News from SWIFT Headquarters

Collaborative teacher, Steve Brostowitz, leads a teaching center
at WISH Charter Elementary School in Los Angeles, CA

Our SWIFT SEA and LEA Facilitators have been busy! 64 schools in our SWIFT implementation states of Maryland, Oregon, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Vermont are all involved in ongoing intensive technical assistance process designed to meet the unique needs of their schools and districts. This process is, in part, based on the four stages of implementation outlined by the State Implementation and Scaling-up Evidence Based Practices of the SISEP Center. What’s happening in Maryland is highlighted in this newsletter.  

SWIFT is building up a library of resources to assist schools that want to ensure that ALL really does mean ALL. Soon you will notice a new feature on our website highlighting these resources and research generated by the SWIFT Center. These resources include our latest Issue Briefs, currently “housed” within SWIFT Talk on the website. The SWIFT Policy Team has been contributing to and finalizing this series of Issue Briefs detailing not only the research that drives the work of the SWIFT Center but also efforts to implement this work in schools across the country.

Our social media outreach is growing daily. Connecting to the SWIFT Center via Facebook, Twitter, our You Tube channel, and Pinterest are a few ways of staying informed with all SWIFT related news and activities. We are sure the teachers in your life will appreciate our Pinterest page featured in this newsletter.

Stay involved, stay connected, and stay in touch!

Inclusively yours,

All of us at the SWIFT Center 

SWIFT and Spring Blossoms in Maryland

by LEA Facilitator, Linda Rohrbaugh

Proudly presenting the Maryland SWIFT LEA Coordinators and the state flower—the Black Eyed-Susan, accompanied by a few daffodils to help spread the word. SWIFT is blossoming in Maryland!

Data digging is the current focus for all 16 Maryland schools. LEA Implementation Teams and School Transformation Teams are analyzing FIT and FIA data to identify strengths and opportunities for growth. It’s been interesting to capture some of the emerging trends. For example, the data reveal that Maryland schools have strong instructional leaders coupled with systems and supports for novice and experienced instructional staff. As research documents, strong leaders are essential for systems transformation. We believe that our Maryland leaders are well-positioned for advancing the SWIFT transformation visioning across the districts and schools.

One of the most exciting aspects of SWIFTing is the intimate teaming approach that results from district and school partnerships. Watching an associate superintendent, directors, and supervisors engage in rich data discussions with principals and coaches changes the traditional thinking about the central office—SWIFT brings them together for shared understanding and collaborative problem solving. Recent training evaluations address the positive nature of this collaboration:  
  • I really liked the collaboration with LEA and school. It was wonderful to share our perspectives with different levels within our system.
  • We got some good information from the district level today.
  • A county meeting—great to have these participants.
  • Loved the collaboration between schools and district.
The LEA Coordinators pictured here are district level personnel, but for our SWIFT schools, they are the “boots on the ground” folks working alongside school teams. They are the folks who know firsthand the strengths and opportunities of each school, and they are the ones who will work alongside me—the LEA Facilitator—to make the ALL means ALL transformation in Maryland.

The seeds have been planted—please continue to watch us blossom.

Happy Spring!

SWIFTing in Queen's County, Maryland

Fun facts about Maryland:

State bird: Baltimore Oriole
State fish: Rockfish
State sport: Jousting
State dance: Square dancing
State boat: Skipjack

Plus, Maryland is home to the "Star-Spangled Banner," written in Fort McHenry, as well as the Preakness Stakes—the second leg of the Triple Crown!

SWIFT Talk -
Our Community of Practice

The Community of Practice has been actively posting articles informing parents, teachers, administrators, researchers, and policymakers about the kinds of issues being addressed to create inclusive schools.  If you haven’t seen Susan Shapiro’s latest blog, “An Apology to Frank,” head on over to SWIFT Talk and check it out. Sue Swenson, Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, describes this posting as “brave,” as the author humbly describes her own transformation from a self-contained classroom teacher to an educational leader who believes all students can and must learn in the general education classroom.  

Mary Schuh’s recent entry, “A Unity of Purpose,” is an introduction to the SWIFT Issue Brief: “Leading Education Reform Initiatives:  How SWIFT Coordinates and Enhances Impact.” This Brief—written by leaders in the field of educational reform and members of the SWIFT Policy Team (TASH, NASDSE, CCSSO, IEL)—provides a close examination of the various initiatives happening in our schools and the research to support the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education, as well as the wisdom of braiding these reform initiatives to create a unity of purpose and the sustainability of increased academic and social outcomes for ALL students. 

Mike Jamison, Principal of Fox Prairie Elementary School in Stoughton, Wisconsin—one of six Knowledge Development Sites where aspects of the SWIFT domains can be seen in practice—introduces our latest Issues Brief authored by the SWIFT Policy Team: How Change Occurred at the Stoughton Area School District: Lessons from a SWIFT Knowledge Development Site.” Mike’s blog post and this Issue Brief highlight some of the policies and practices that contribute to the remarkable achievements of Fox Prairie Elementary School.  A must-read for school administrators in the midst of educational transformation.

As always, read, share, and tell us what you think!

SWIFT on Pinterest

by Allyson Satter

I have a confession to make: I am addicted to Pinterest. In my free time, I find myself pinning recipes, decorating ideas, and quotes that inspire me to try new things. I will admit that sometimes the recipes and craft projects I attempt to recreate do not turn out quite like the pictures I pinned, but most of the time I walk away from the site with great ideas that I cannot wait to try out and share with my friends.  

Pinterest is a social media tool that allows users to “pin” and share visual images on “boards” organized around topics.  Although it is useful for collecting recipes and craft projects, it can also be a valuable tool for educators.  Many of the friends I follow on Pinterest are educators, so I often see some of the excellent classroom lessons and ideas that they pin. As a former teacher, some of the best lessons I ever taught were based on lessons I watched my colleagues teach. In some ways, Pinterest allows teachers across the country to “watch” and learn from each other.  Following the pins and boards of teachers is like watching good teachers share creative ideas for how to engage students in learning.  

If you have already discovered Pinterest, I would encourage you to follow SWIFT Schools. The SWIFT Pinterest page has boards organized around some of SWIFT’s key features and practices. For example, there are ideas for co-teaching, Universal Design for Learning, behavior supports, and family/community partnerships. There are also ideas for how to engage students in lessons that cover a variety of subject areas.
If you have not yet discovered Pinterest, now is the time to sign up. But, consider yourself warned…it can be addictive!  

The SWIFT Center produced this document under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant No. H325Y120005. OSEP Project Officers Grace Zamora Durán and Tina Diamond served as the project officers. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this publication is intended or should be inferred. This product is public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: SWIFT Center. (2014). SWIFT News, Issue 8, March 2014. Lawrence, KS: SWIFT Center.
SWIFT Center
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