Educationally Speaking is an Oakland Schools Intermediate School District broadcast which focuses on important topics related to education in Oakland County, MI.
Oakland Schools' Assistant Superintendent and Chief Information Officer Tammy Evans and Oakland Schools Service Desk Supervisor Robin Evenson discuss how the Oakland Schools Service Desk was recently given the opportunity to provide tech support for MIServiceDesk, which is a statewide pre-K-12 initiative. This move puts Oakland Schools at the forefront of technology plans taking place at the state level.
Host: Oakland Schools' Communications Specialist Sarah Davis
Producer: Oakland Schools' Media Production and Distance Learning Manager Mark Hansen
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>> Hello and welcome to Educationally Speaking. My name is Sarah Davis and I'm a communications specialist with Oakland Schools and the host of this podcast. The goal of Educationally Speaking is to focus on important topics related to education here in Oakland County, Michigan. Thank you so much for listening in. Today we're going to discuss how the Oakland Schools Service Desk was given the opportunity to provide tech support for MIServiceDesk which is a statewide pre-K-12 initiative. It is something we are immensely proud of here at Oakland schools and we're excited to be at the forefront of technology plans going on at the state level. Here with us today to talk about this topic, we have Oakland Schools assistant superintendent and chief information officer Tammy Evans. And Oakland Schools Service Desk supervisor Robin Evenson . Tammy and Robin, thank you so much for being here today.
>> Thank you for having us.
>> Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
>> This is a fun topic for us to talk about, but there's also many levels to it. So we're going to kind of go through and break apart how this came about, that Oakland Schools was selected to head up such a big project. Sound good?
>> Yes it does.
>> Perfect. Okay, so Tammy, let's start this off by discussing how Oakland schools got involved in MIServiceDesk to begin with.
>> Sure, Sarah. We have been a part of a statewide project for many years with a collaboration group that has been focused on providing solutions for pre-K-12. Whether they were state-mandated or they may have been something that an association like General Education Leadership Network or the Michigan Education Technology leaders would have identified as something that everyone has to do. This group has focused on many initiatives, and we'll get into that in a little bit more. We have a group called MCH which is the Michigan Collaboration Hub. And this Collaboration Hub focuses on providing these solutions. When we started building these things and providing these things, we found very quickly that we needed frontline support, what we call tier-one support in IT. So tier-one support for these types of solutions is really a website and a phone number and a resource that someone can contact from a classroom or from a central office so they can get support. So really what prompted the state to form the Michigan Service Desk was being able to address the support needs for these statewide initiatives. When we started creating these solutions, we quickly found that the few resources that we had allocated to the work wasn't enough to cover all of the support needs across the state. So at that time, Oakland Schools and many other ISD's were asked to be partners and collaborate on providing resources to support these initiatives. And there's many initiatives associated with the collaboration hub.
>> So what was it about Oakland Schools Service Desk that made it the best candidate to take on the statewide initiative?
>> We're really fortunate in Southeast Michigan to have so many resources. And Oakland Schools especially has a very established service desk that we've been operating for 20 years. So supporting regional initiatives is what we do really well. And Robin and her team have done an outstanding job. They're all very passionate and very committed to learning all the new things that technology brings us. So I knew pretty quickly that it would be easy for Oakland to absorb this entry-level service desk for the state initiatives and contacted Robin and said, "What do you think about this?" And how we would approach it. So we kind of talked about it for quite a while. We talked with our own internal team. Then I offered it to the Collaboration Hub as an opportunity to start out providing support for the state. We want to start out with some of the entry-level applications that are being supported, and then grow it. Oakland Schools is providing this support in a way that allows the rest of the ISD's to join us. So we're not the only provider. Today we are, because we're starting it. But ultimately we believe that there will be other ISD's that help us support statewide initiatives because there will be tens of thousands of people using this service.
>> Okay, so Oakland Schools takes this on in November 2019. Can you talk about how this affected your day-to-day?
>> Honestly, Sarah, the day-to-day hasn't really changed with our team. We worked so closely together and they absorb all tasks that are brought to them quickly and, as Tammy said, with passion. Some tickets spark conversation that come into the MIServiceDesk. We have two leads right now which is Sidney Pershon and Brandon Stevens. They led this project with the team in getting them trained and making sure that they understand what accesses they have and what the processes are to generate the tickets or troubleshoot them. So honestly from what we do day-to-day with our field service districts and all of the 28 districts in Oakland County, it's just the same process. We own that ticket from start to finish.
>> Even still, this sounds like a big project. So what are you focusing on first?
>> When we bring on a new district or a new project like this, any kind of task, our first focus is training. We want to make sure that we have all the data we need to provide the support that our customers are used to getting from the Service Desk. So since this is a new initiative for us, we spent a lot of time sitting with the MCH group who provided the training to us and our team. It took about a week to get us all onboard. Once the training was completed, we had the team play inside the admin councils just so they could get familiar with seeing what the customers and the teachers that call into us are going to see.
>> The first two products that we're supporting, there was a third-grade reading law put into place about 18 months ago or so. And as a MCH collaboration response to that, we created a statewide solution called MIRead. It also ties in with another application called MIStrategy Bank. So MIRead allows teachers to do instantaneous assessments of literacy components for each student that they work with. MIStrategy Bank complements that solution in that it provides strategies to address the different learning styles or the different literacy components that they're trying to help the student with. So Robin's team went through training in not only the applications themselves but really what the content meant. And so they would understand the types of questions that would come in from teacher classrooms, which is where they'll get most of their calls.
>> And what are the other layers that will be supported other than those two applications?
>> The Collaboration Hub has spent a great deal of time -- we've been working on this for about six years. We started with infrastructure, specifically the state education network which connects all of the ISD's and all of the districts to one continuous network. And we created that so that we could address the digital assessment requirement that the state put into place several years ago. So they are doing online assessments they're required to do in every district. And so that state education network gives us a way to capture the results of those assessments. The other layers that we've really been focusing on are the data hubs. So every single district is required to capture all kinds of data about students, about finances, about all layers of classroom management and learning management. So by creating this data hub solution, we were able to connect a way for data to be entered once so that data integrity was the focus. And the district saved a huge amount of money so that they didn't have to enter data multiple times. When a student comes in to a district, they're already registered at the state. They already have a unique identifying number. And there is a way for all of that data to be populated through their student information system and then across all other applications that the districts use, whether it's food service or transportation or many other learning management, classroom management types of applications. We used to do all of this manually. We would enter that data every single time to every single application. So you can imagine Tom and Thomas and Tommy were all put in for the same student.
>> Okay, so what does all this mean for a teacher living say way out in Manistee? Robin, can you take us through the flow of how it works for someone who is seeking assistance from the Oakland School service desk?
>> Absolutely. We have three different avenues that the customers can contact us. For the MIServiceDesk.org is our ticketing system through JIRA. They can log into that system and enter their tickets online themselves. They can contact us through phone, obviously, at 248-209-2060 and get a live resource. And then we also have live chat which is our personal favorite, because it's real-time live chat. You're literally talking with a resource at that time. You can provide them whatever -- you know, the same questions that you might have, the same concerns you have with your ticket. And we can troubleshoot right there at the same time.
>> This seems like a big initiative, so how is Oakland Schools undertaking this project from a resource standpoint?
>> Well, we've really at the very beginning of the initiative, we've just been able to, as Robin said, kind of absorb the additional calls and additional tickets and assistance necessary. But really what we're doing here is we're growing a pretty significant rate. Currently we support very regularly 56 districts, so 28 public school districts and then the charters that we have in Oakland County. We also support a program called VLAC, which is our virtual learning academy. And that is outside of our county. So we've had a regional establishment for quite a while. What MIRead and MIStrategyBank bring to us in the next few months is about 300 districts. So the ticket volume will drastically grow. Beyond that, when we actually start supporting the state education network and the data hubs and the other activities that Michigan Collaboration Hub have created and support, we will have to really resource up. We will have to -- we will be paid by the Collaboration Hub to add resources and to build our Service Desk Solution in a way that fits the needs of the statewide enterprise solution. And that means everything from software licensing to additional hands-on in the Service Desk technicians-wise. Ultimately what will happen I believe is that the Michigan Service Desk will support, you know, the 1.45 million kids that are in the state and all of the 850-plus districts that are in the state. So when I referred earlier to a regional approach, that's really what we envision. We believe that Oakland Schools has a great foundation and a well-established, very strong practice of providing this kind of solution. So building from this will help other ISD's and other districts be able to support their locals in a much easier way.
>> Sounds like a lot of exciting things on the horizon. How can districts find more info on MIServiceDesk?
>> There's a couple different ways. They can go to MIServiceDesk.org and that takes them directly to the ticketing system that Oakland Schools uses. It is branded as MIServiceDesk, so you don't actually see that there's an Oakland Schools brand on it, which is on purpose. Because we wanted to be able to actually roll this all the way across the state and not have it be specific to one ISD. You can also go to GoMAISA.org. MAISA is the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators. That's our ISD association of superintendents and administrators for all ISD's and regions.
>> Okay. Well that's all for today's show about the Oakland Schools Service Desk. Congratulations to you, Tammy and Robin, for overseeing a project that has such a big statewide impact. I'm sure you're very proud.
>> Extremely proud. Thank you, Sarah.
>> Thank you for having us on the show.
>> Appreciate it.
>> This podcast was brought to you by Oakland Schools Intermediate Schools District's Communication Services and produced by media production and distance learning manager Mark Hansen. Oakland Schools is a regional service agency that offers support services to school personnel which are better delivered regionally and provide cost, size and quality advantages for those we serve. You can find more information on Oakland Schools at Oakland.K12.MI.us. I have been your host for this podcast, Sarah Davis. And you can find this and future episodes of Educationally Speaking at our website or on Anchor FM. We hope you will join us for our next episode where we will continue to bring you topics that affect every student every day.
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Oakland Schools' Director of Government and Community Services Lisa Hansknecht talks about school aid funding and exactly how it works. She debunks myths to help give listeners a better understanding of how Oakland County school districts are funded.
Host: Oakland Schools' Communications Specialist Sarah Davis
Producer: Oakland Schools' Media Production and Distance Learning Manager Mark Hansen
[ Music ]
>> Hello. Welcome to Educationally Speaking. My name is Sarah Davis, and I'm a communications specialist with Oakland Schools and the host of this podcast. The goal of Educationally Speaking is to focus on important topics related to education here in Oakland County, Michigan. Thank you so much for listening in. Today, we're going to talk about school aid funding and exactly how it works. It's important to discuss this because there are so many misconceptions about this topic. Helping to debunk those will give us all a better understanding of how schools are funded, which in turn can make us all better advocates for our youth. Here with us today, we have Lisa Hansknecht, Oakland Schools' director of government and community services. And if you want to know the ins and outs of school aid funding, this is the woman to talk to. Lisa has spent 30 years working at the state capitol in Lansing, the last 20 of which she has spent specifically doing work related to education policy. She also serves as a member of the Steering and Technical Committee related to the School Finance Research Collaborative, which we will discuss later on in this program. Lisa, thank you so much for being here today.
>> Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
>> Well, let's start this podcast off by just kind of getting a general overview how exactly are schools funded in the state of Michigan.
>> Schools are funded through a variety of taxes. There is a host of different taxes that individuals and businesses pay that goes to the state, and portions of those come to schools. So, for example, the sales tax that we pay, every time you go out and you buy a new shirt, 6% is put on the overall price and a portion of that comes to schools. And in total, we get 44.2% of total school funding -- this is the biggest one -- from sales tax revenue. You also get it from income tax, so when you pay your taxes at the end of the year. There's a state education tax, which is a property tax. Use tax, real estate, tobacco, lottery. There's a whole bunch of stuff.
>> All right, all of that makes sense. But a lot of times you hear people say, schools don't need the money, they're funded by the lottery. Can you talk a little bit about how lottery money actually plays into school funding?
>> Absolutely. The lottery money does all go to school aid. They get 100% of the lottery revenues. And it equals a total of $979 million currently. That's a lot of money. But when you look at the total amount of school aid funds, the total amount, that's only 7.4% of all of the money that goes to schools. So yes, we get all the lottery money, but it's only a real small piece of that pie.
>> Okay, very interesting. So those are the ways that school money is collected. But when it comes in, then where is it allocated?
>> School aid goes out through the School Aid Act. It's a budget bill they have to pass each year. And in total, you're talking about over $13 billion that they divvy up in different ways to go to our schools. The biggest way is the foundation allowance. And that's what most people hear about. That's the roughly, say, $8,500 per pupil that schools get. So if you have a school with 1,000 pupils, multiply that by 8,500, that's how much they get. In addition to that, there's some big what we call categoricals that help schools address particular issues and challenges that they have. There's categoricals for special ed students. These are students with disabilities. For at-risk pupils. And these are pupils that are poor or have faced incredible challenges. Maybe they have a parent who's been incarcerated. Maybe they're an English language learner, they've immigrated to this country and their parents have become citizens but they're just learning the language. We have also early childhood. So you're talking about the Great Start Readiness Program and all the four-year-olds and I think three-year-olds that that serves. And career and technical education is another big one. So that's all of your career cluster programs that you see in different areas dealing everything from health and computers to construction, HVAC -- like heating and ventilation, air conditioning -- all kinds of career and trade programs get funding through this too. So those are the big areas that the money goes out to.
>> So does all of the school aid money go to K-12 education?
>> Not all of it. First there's that piece about early ed that I talked about a minute ago. And then in addition to that, there's a sort of a controversial debate over higher education and community colleges. And in the budgets that just passed, we had $350 million from the school aid fund that went to higher -- institutions of higher learning, the universities, and 325 million that went to community colleges. That's $775 odd-million. And if you think about that -- what do we have, like 1.5 million kids in our schools, in our K-12 schools? If that money instead of going to colleges went to K-12, that's $516 a student. I mean, imagine what that could do for your child and your school if they had that money in terms of class size, books, materials, support from psychologists or nurses, counselors, career programs. That's why this is sort of controversial about whether it should be going to K-12 or not.
>> How does the state decide how much money goes to each piece of the school funding pie?
>> The current way that we've determined that was predominantly decided by Proposal A, which passed about 25 years ago. And that's where we got that foundation allowance that we talked to. And so a big chunk of it goes right to that, goes to the foundation allowance. There are also big pieces that are obligations that the legislature can't decide not to pay. For example, we owe money on certain obligations related to special ed from lawsuits that said, no, you're not paying enough, you got to pay more. And there's money for matching and maintaining certain amounts of federal money that we have to pay. If we change that, we would lose those federal dollars. So we want to make sure we use that funding. But once they get through all of that, there's typically a chunk of money that legislators view as, this is my piece that I get to decide how the money will be spent. And different legislators have used that in different ways. Some sometimes have a particular school reform or an idea they feel needs extra funding. You'll hear people talk in the past, dating all the back to like Governor Engler had that Laptops for Teachers program, and this is when computers were first starting and they were really trying to get computers in the hands of educators. Sometimes they'll go for literacy coaches, we've heard that before. And sometimes you'll see increases for career and tech building materials or equipment. A lot of times those programs need more equipment. So this is the sort of discretionary pie pot of money that the legislature decides what to do. And the problem with that is, this is where we kind of shoot ourselves in the foot. Because all of the different education groups who all mean well, all go to the legislature and say, I'm underfunded, we need more money for CTE equipment. Or we need more slots for early childhood education. We need more kids to be able to have access to these programs. And what ends up happening is the legislature hears from four different groups that all say they need that little piece of the pie that's left after all the obligations are paid. Maybe school counselors or psychologists come forward -- I'm not trying to pick on any particular group. But just all of these groups know the problems that they're facing and so they come forward and speak out about those problems. And to the legislators, all they hear is this tug-of-war about who should get this last piece of the pie. When we arm wrestle all that, what we really should be doing is thinking about what does the research say? What does the research say that where the funding should go?
>> And can you talk a little bit about that? What does the research say?
>> There have -- over the last five years, there have been a number of studies. Governor Snyder did an adequacy study that showed that we needed considerably more funding. Lieutenant Governor Calley did a study about special ed that showed specifically we needed more special ed funding. But the biggest of these research studies was done by the School Finance Research Collaborative. And this group, made up of legislators both Democrat and Republican, there's foundations were involved, businesses were involved, higher ed was involved. Everybody got together. Charter schools were involved. This wasn't like a public school versus charter thing. Everybody got together and said, given the laws in Michigan, how much does it really cost to educate a child to meet the standards we expect them to meet under all these laws? And it was because of that wonderfully diverse group from all over the state -- eastside, westside, little rural areas, big cities, and both parties, both charters and traditional publics. Because of that, there was a lot of emphasis on the credibility and making sure this was a truly good study done by the best people in the nation. And that's what they did. So they raised money from predominately from the foundations and from the school's community and they paid for this study that really looked at how are we going to educate all of these kids and what is that going to cost?
>> And that study came out I think it was early last year, right?
>> Yes, it's been about a year now.
>> Okay. So we heard about the School Finance Research Collaborative and what they were doing most recently. But can you talk a little bit about what they're doing now?
>> Sure. So they finished that report, like you said, a year ago. And in the report, they identified a couple of areas that they didn't address but they think further research should be done on. And those include things like transportation, capital funding or how to fund the buildings in which all of these schools that the kids go to school to, and further study of high need poverty students. The focus now, in addition to thinking through how to get that other research done, is beginning to implement that research. So the collaborative members were very pleased to see when the governor recommended her budget this past February or March, that she included a lot of the concepts to do a first step toward funding our schools the way the research said. Unfortunately, the legislators didn't really take that research to heart, and the budget they passed, they didn't include the weighted foundation formula. So now the collaborative is going to be doing some education both to the general public and to legislators in particular and just trying to build the case for why this research is the best and why we should be following it and what are the steps we need to do to implement it. They understand you can't just snap your finger and in one year come up with the kind of money that the research says we need. This is something that has to be phased in over multiple years. Many states have done these. In Massachusetts, when they did the study, it took them 10 years to slowly get all of that funding in place then. So this is a long process and we're just starting down that road.
>> Okay. Earlier, you talked about the lottery misconception. Are there any other misconceptions about school funding out there that you want to talk about?
>> Sure. There's one that I hear almost every year that we pass a budget that the legislature passes a budget. When they pass it, unless we're in a recession and we're facing cuts, we always hear them say, "and this year's budget has record funding." Let's dig into that a little bit. What does record funding mean? Well, if I give you $10 this year to buy a book and next year I give you $10 and a penny to buy the book, well, I gave you $10 and a penny, that's record funding. It's more than I gave you before. But it doesn't keep up with what the research says, which might be that really what we need is $15 and instead of a book we need a Kindle and all of these other materials. Nor does it keep up with inflation. Healthcare costs and retirement costs are taking larger and larger chunks. We talked about that foundation allowance of the $8,500 that goes for each kid, almost I think it's around 12 or $1,300 per kid goes to pay for the retirement of the staff and the teachers that you and I had when we were in school. I won't say how many years ago. But we have to pay that obligation and that liability. So it's one of those things that when you hear "record funding," be careful about what that means. It still may not mean that enough funding is going where it needs to in education.
>> All right. So how can school employees or even regular citizens help join toward a united voice to help with these school funding issues?
>> That's a great question. One of the things we need is everybody to get on board with the same message and in some ways a new message. Currently, like I said, everybody is arguing for their piece of the pie. They're arguing and they're saying that last piece of the pie that the legislators determined, that discretionary piece, the most important thing for it should be early ed or CTE or more school counselors, whatever it is that, in all fairness, that's what they know about. And they understand the challenges they are facing. By arguing over that last piece of pie, we're kind of missing the boat. What we need to be saying is, we need a bigger pie. It's not that that last piece of discretionary funding should go to any one of those areas. All of those areas need the funding, according to the research. So instead of arguing over that one piece, we need to be saying, it's time for a bigger pie. And so if everybody were to reach out and try to build a relationship with their legislators -- not just when you need something. Not just when you hear about some law that you don't like and you want to go and, you know, bend their ear. But also, you know, a lot of legislators have coffee hours every month. And you can go, and it may not always be about education. They may be talking about roads funding or healthcare. But if you start listening and just offering your comments, whatever they may be, and the legislators start seeing you regularly, they start recognizing you as a human and not as just someone who's mad about something. One of the great things that school employees can do when they go to these is talk about those particular struggles. When each of those different kinds of groups of people come forward and say, early ed or CTE, they'll say it because they're seeing a particular challenge. Our CTE equipment isn't the kind of equipment that business is using. And that means our kids are not being trained the way they should be. That's all true. You can still say that. But instead of saying, so give us that last piece of pie, the message is, so we need a bigger pie, so we can fund this and all the other priorities. And that way instead of us all competing against each other, we're all working together.
>> I really like that advice, Lisa, especially the part about meeting with your legislator regularly. So thank you. We're lucky to have someone with your budget expertise to talk to. These kinds of topics can be confusing, so I appreciate your clarity.
>> Well, it was a pleasure being here, anytime.
>> This podcast was brought to you by Oakland Schools' intermediate school districts communication services and produced by media production and distance learning manager Mark Hansen. Oakland Schools is a regional service agency that offers support services to school personnel which are better delivered regionally and provide cost, size, and quality advantages to those we serve. You can find more information on Oakland Schools at Oakland.K12.MI.us. I have been your host for this podcast, Sarah Davis. And you can find this and future episodes of Educationally Speaking on Anchor FM. We hope you will join us for our next episode where we will continue to bring you topics that affect every student every day.
Oakland Schools' Teacher Induction and Social Studies Education Consultant Dr. Christopher Lee and Oakland Schools' Literacy Consultant Dr. Andrea Zellner have started a New Teacher Induction Program called NTIP. The purpose of NTIP is to provide induction services for new teachers in participating Oakland County districts. Oakland Schools' goal is to support and guide educators who are in the early stages of their careers.
Host: Oakland Schools' Communications Specialist Sarah Davis
Producer: Oakland Schools' Media Production and Distance Learning Manager Mark Hansen
>> Sarah: Hello. Welcome to Educationally Speaking. My name is Sarah Davis [assumed spelling] and I'm a Communication Specialist with Oakland Schools and the host of this podcast. The goal of Educationally Speaking is to focus on important topics related to education hear in Oakland County, Michigan. Thank you so much for listening in. Today, we're going to dive into the topic of teacher induction, which basically is supporting and guiding educators who are in the early stages of their careers. In this podcast, we will be introducing you to a new program Oakland Schools launched in 2016 called the New Teacher Induction Program or NTIP for short. The purpose of NTIP is to provide induction services for new teachers in participating Oakland County districts. Here with us today, we have Dr. Christopher Lee [assumed spelling], Oakland Schools Teacher Induction and Social Studies Education Consultant, and Dr. Andrea Zellner [assumed spelling], Oakland Schools Literacy Consultant. Andrea and Chris have [inaudible] state and national interests in their work with new teachers. They have presented their research on NTIP at national conferences like the American Educational Research Association and the University Counsel for Education Administration. They have also worked to build a network of practitioners from across Michigan to advocate foreign support the work of new teacher induction. Chris and Andrea, thank you so much for being here today.
>> Chris: Thank you.
>> Andrea: Thanks for having us.
>> Sarah: I'm eager to learn about this new program. And, in fact, it was when I was promoting our first podcast, Bullying 101 with Dr. Julie McDaniel [assumed spelling] on Twitter a couple of weeks ago that Chris you reached and thought NTIP would be a perfect podcast topic for Educationally Speaking. So, I'm happy to have both of you here today.
>> Chris: Yeah, we've been slowly rolling out the program over the last three years and have invited new districts to participate as the needs of the districts have aligned with our program goals.
>> Sarah: That's awesome. Well, with that in mind, can you first give us an overview of NTIP?
>> Chris: Absolutely. On our team, we have four Oakland School Consultants, myself and three other very talented consultants. The first one's Andrea Zellner, sitting beside me here, the second is Stacy Woodward [assumed spelling]. She is one of our Disciplinary Literacy Consultants and Social Education Consultant. And then, Ashlyn Curry [assumed spelling] who's also a Literary Consultant. The program is designed around four basic parts, the first of which are quarterlies and quarterlies are whole program gatherings where we invite every new teacher that's in the districts that we're working with to come and gather together. And, the way we think about it is that it's networking around instructional improvement. So, we want new teachers to learn from one another across districts and across buildings. The biggest example of that, the best example of that that we had was one time, we had two special education teachers, one from each district that we were serving at the time, and one of them was a brand new teacher and was asked to create a whole program out of nothing. And so, it was a very difficult time for that teacher. And so, that teacher met with another teacher who taught the same kind of special education program in another district and they had a lot of support. So, this teacher from the first district said can I come observe and can I bring my principal and can I bring my teacher consultant. They went and visited and the first teacher really improved their practice as a result. And, that's the kind of networking that we're looking to generate in these quarterly meetings.
>> Andrea: Yeah, the next part of the program is something that we call Huddles, which were originally content area or grade level group and this year, we've rebranded them as Huddles Plus so that teachers can also engage with online virtual learning, either self-paced or synchronous. And so, those have really expanded the opportunities for teachers to get exactly the type of learning that they need right when they need it.
>> Chris: And then, the third part of the program is there's a coaching part of the program. Now, initially in the first year, we were a small program. We're only in two districts. We had 25 new teachers. And, the consultants provided direct instructional coaching services for those teachers, but we realized pretty quick the program was going to expand and that the need for coaching was going to expand exponentially and that we didn't have the capacity to do that, so what we decided to do is we decided to start training coaches in the districts to do that work. And, that work has been slowly growing. In the first year that we did that, we had about 25 coaches from two districts and this year, we had about 40 coaches from two or three districts. So, that work has been sort of slowly growing. And, we're also thinking about how do we integrate that work into coaching work that's already happening in Oakland Schools. What kind of services are already [inaudible]? So, for example, Marty Chafee [assumed spelling] who's one of our leadership consultants does a lot of this work with principals and so we're trying to align our work with other work that's happening in Oakland Schools in that regard.
>> Andrea: Yeah, and the last part of our program is that we do a lot of research on what is happening with our new teachers. So, one question we had was about new teacher's beliefs and how that impacts their teaching. And, then we looked at how their social networks might be influencing those beliefs. So, we have some outside university partners who work with us in surveying the new teachers and interviewing the new teachers and also with the analysis. So, then we publish that and share those findings widely with the educational communities that we an learn together.
>> Sarah: Okay, great. So, part of the name of this project is Induction and I have to be honest as someone who isn't as familiar with education terms, what exactly is it that you mean by teacher induction?
>> Chris: Well, I think the first thing to realize is that Michigan has a state law that says if you're a new teacher that's untenured, doesn't have tenure in the district, you have to have a mentor. And so, where this program originally started is that Mike Yoakum [assumed spelling], our Assistant Superintendent, came to me and said, we have this law on the books. A lot of districts are providing mentors to new teachers, but that kind of work they're doing is really involved around socialization, like hey, here's where the copier is at, here's the secretary you need to go to if you have a question about your paystub, but what we're interested in is we're interested in instructional improvement. So, socialization is really important. It needs to happen. And, we think the work that's already happening in the district is great and we want to support that, but we want to take it a step further. We want to help new teachers get better at their practice, get better at the instruction that's going on in their classrooms. So, there's that element of it too. There's also a second element that the state requires that new teachers in their first three years have 90 additional hours of professional learning. So, if you're a teacher in Michigan, you have to get recertified every five years, that's 30 hours per year. For new teachers in their first three years, it's an additional 30 hours, so it's a total of 60 hours in their first three years they've got to get recertified and to meet the state requirement. So one of the big things that we want to do is that we really want to make sure that new teachers have, as Andrea said, the way to get those 30 hours that makes sense to them, that works for their schedule, and then also helps them grow in the specific area of their practice they need to get better at. Lastly, you know, we think of the program as five years. In terms of this program, those first three years are really focused on getting those hours, but we now have people, because we've been doing this program and we're in our fourth year, we now have teachers who are in their fourth and fifth year and we're thinking about how do we train them for teacher leadership as well, right. We want to move them on from, you know, being a neophyte into actually helping other teachers. So, we've started to ask some of these veterans of the program if they can begin leading Huddle meetings, leading parts of the quarterly meetings, and we've been seeing some really good results so far.
>> Sarah: Okay. And, I think that, you know, we've all heard about teacher retention right now and how important it is in the state of Michigan. So, can you talk about how NTIP plays a role in that and why this program is important at this moment?
>> Andrea: Right. So, new teachers tend to leave the profession within the first five years. There's a lot of research around teacher attrition at that moment in their career. The New Teacher Induction Program enters into that space to really think about how do we retain teachers in a way that sustains them professionally so that they don't leave the profession and that they don't leave the buildings that they're in. One of the things that we're seeing coming out of teacher preparation programs is that they just don't have the students graduating out of their programs. Those programs have shrunk by 70% over the last decade, which is a really remarkable drop. So, the teachers that we have coming out of those teacher prep programs and placing into classrooms really need to stay. We have a substitute crisis in Michigan. We have lots of students who are being taught by long-term subs, so having a certified teacher in a classroom is a really beautiful thing to have going on for you. As a district, we want to make sure that those teachers don't feel burnt out, that they feel supported, that when they have questions, they know where to get those answers and resources so they can sustain their practice and move through that very tumultuous first five years and into a long term career for themselves.
>> Chris: And, if I could also jump in and add to that, there's also sort of some cyclical and some structural things going on in the teacher labor market as well. So, cyclically, what happens with teacher labor markets is as the economy gets better, fewer people want to be teachers. As the economy gets worse, more people want to be teachers. Teaching provides sort of a stable profession for people in an unstable market. What we're seeing right now because the economy is still pretty good and it's been growing for a long time is that fewer people want to be teachers. But there's also a structural component where the profession is generally under attack. The prestige of teaching has been going down for I think we could say decades and so, we see not only are we at a low point cyclically, but we're also at a low point structurally as well. And, what that means is that we need to install systems for teacher induction and support before we see a flood of new teachers come back to the market whenever the cycle picks back up again.
>> Sarah: And, Andrea, I think it was you who mentioned the research component of NTIP earlier in the program. Can you talk about that a little bit more?
>> Andrea: Yeah, so, it's really interesting. We have a lot of research that shows that professional learning communities can impact teachers' beliefs about teaching. And, we also know that new teachers in their teacher prep programs are really thinking about equity and social justice and the sort of definite thread from all of our major universities who are giving us teachers into Oakland County. So, what we were questioning was okay, so now we have a teacher who's brand new who has this developing sense of who they are as a human being and as a new professional and what happens to those beliefs as a result of interacting with veteran teachers, interacting within their buildings and the culture of those buildings. So, really the question was we believe that there might be some changes around those beliefs, but we don't really have the data to support that. So, the research was really looking at who do you go to for help. So, that was the first question. How often do you speak with them? Who are you naming as your support people? And, then we also surveyed the people that they named as their helper and tried to look how similar or different are those new teacher beliefs around equity and social justice as opposed to the veteran teachers that they are going to. And, we found some really interesting data. We found that their networks really change a lot over the first year. We found that they still go back to their student teaching placement, their mentor from that student teaching placement, that they have a really strong relationship, so that was one person that they really nominated. And also, their closest colleague within the building. So, usually, if I'm a third grade teacher, I'm going to go to my third grade teaching team member or my special ed teaching team member. So, those are the folks that the new teachers are really interacting with. What was missing were more formal leaders that we would expect to see. So, surprisingly, you're not seeing department heads named, you're not seeing principals named within those networks. So, that's really interesting to us, because as an organization, thinking through, we have all these structures in place for formal leadership. Those leaders may not be influencing our newest members of our profession and what consequences does that have? What does that mean for how we develop leadership as an organization and how we support those new teachers as well?
>> Sarah: Okay. So, how can people find out more information or how can a district get involved in NTIP and use its resources. Well, first of all, they can email us. My email is email@example.com, and Andrea's email is --
>> Andrea: firstname.lastname@example.org.
>> Chris: Two L's.
>> Andrea: Two L's.
>> Chris: And, we were happy to talk to any districts about this work. We want to be clear though, this would be for school year 2020-2021. This year, we're already rolling with our programs and we would want to make sure that any new districts that come in would be fully supported and integrated into the program, but we think that that planning work can begin as soon as January, February of 2020.
>> Andrea: I just want to add too to that because you want to make sure that you have all the structural supports there. So, we meet with human resources, we meet with assistant sup's or superintendents, we meet with the union presidents to make sure that all those structures that might be touching teachers in a formal way are ready to support this more informal way of interacting. And, the other thing we should know is that we have our own hashtag.
>> Chris: And, that is?
>> Andrea: #ntipinoc.
>> Chris: So, that's NTIP in Oakland County.
>> Sarah: Well, thank you Chris and Andrea. I'm really excited to see NTIP develop and be sure to keep us updated here, because I'd love to keep this conversation on the importance of teacher retention in our state going.
>> Chris: Thank you for having us.
>> Sarah: Thank you again and thanks to all of you for listening. And, remember to be sure to follow NTIP on Twitter at ntipinoc. That's N-T-I-P-I-N-O-C. You can also find all this information in the Educationally Speaking show notes. This podcast was brought to you by Oakland Schools Intermediate School Districts Communication Services. Oakland Schools is a regional service agency that offers support services to school personnel which are better delivered regionally and provide cost, size and quality advantages to those we serve. [Music] You can find more information on Oakland Schools at oakland.k12.mi.us. I have been your host for this podcast, Sarah Davis, and you can find this and future episodes of Educationally Speaking on Anchor FM [phonetic]. We hope you will join us for our next episode where we will continue to bring you topics that affect every student every day.
[ Music ]
Oakland Schools' Student Safety and Well-Being Consultant Dr. Julie McDaniel talks about Bullying during Bullying Prevention Month. The discussion ranges from the three main characteristics of bullying to what impact bullying has on school culture.
Host: Oakland Schools' Communications Specialist Sarah Davis
Producer: Oakland Schools' Media Production and Distance Learning Manager Mark Hansen
Oakland Schools’ podcast
Season 1, Episode 1
Sarah Davis: Hello, and welcome to the first podcast of Educationally Speaking.
My name is Sarah Davis and I’m a communications specialist with Oakland schools and the host of this podcast.
Thank you so much for listening. The goal of Educationally Speaking is to focus on important topics related to education here in Oakland County, Michigan. We plan to discuss subjects that have local regional and statewide implications that indirectly impact our students, teachers and parents.
For this first podcast, we are tackling a very important topic: bullying. here with us today, we have Dr. Julie McDaniel who is Oakland Schools student safety and well-being consultant. Julie spends her life’s work educating leaders in the state and nationally with bullying prevention information resources and services.
This past summer, Julie presented at the world anti-bullying forum in Dublin, Ireland on bullying prevention through the lens of trauma. Dr. McDaniel, thank you so much for being here today. It’s an honor.
Dr. Julie McDaniel: It’s truly my pleasure.
Sarah Davis: So, because bullying is such a wide-ranging topic, we’ve decided to have this episode focus on bullying 101, just about the basic information we all need to know about bullying so we can help prevent it.
Julie, can you tell us the three main characteristics of bullying?
Dr. Julie McDaniel: Yes, I’d be happy to. I think that that’s probably the most important place to start. A lot of times bullying is misunderstood and it’s over used, the term. So, Bullying has three characteristics. The first is that it’s repetitive or it’s likely to be repeated. If you see something and you say well this looks like a one-time thing, it’s probably not bullying.
The second is that it is it intentional and unwarranted, which means that it’s always on purpose. It’s never by accident and it’s never just joking.
The third characteristic is the thing that separates bullying from all other acts of aggression and that’s that it’s a power imbalance. What that means is that when people engage in bullying behavior, they believe themselves to be superior to those that are targeting. So, it can be body size, it could be intellectual ability, skin color, ethnicity, race, social status, family income, really it is about the context so, in a particular environment, whatever is deemed as powerful, people who engage in bullying behavior have that and look at those who don’t is being less than.
Sarah Davis: Okay, so who was typically involved in bullying?
Dr. Julie McDaniel: That is a really good question as well because a lot of times we want to take a child who has been engaging in bullying behavior and reduce them to label so I really urge people not use the term bully or victim because what I try to do is more of a restorative way where we look at these precious angels of ours that have engaged in behavior that’s really poor.
So, there are different ways to be involved in bullying. There are those who bully, there are those who are bullied, there are those who both bully and are bullied and I think that even though that sounds confusing it’s important for us to note that our children are not born with the ability to bully that they’re actually taught that something that I share often is that hurt people hurt people.
More importantly, what I want to do is I really want to focus and let people talk about the witnesses. I’ve heard a lot that it’s the bystanders that can really stop bullying but I think it’s important for us to note that just because someone is not actively engaged in bullying, it doesn’t mean that they’re not really active in bullying behavior.
So, in witnesses there are very different types of people that are involved. There are those who may not have been plotting and planning the bullying, but they are involved. They actively participate. There those who are more like cheerleaders, there’re those who say that they’re not involved they show up because they like to be a part of that. They may not be cheering someone on but they might be recording it and posting it on social media. There are those who are who don’t want to get involved because they’re afraid of retaliation and then finally there those and, it’s unfortunately a small number of people who really are potential defenders, but they are afraid to stand up because they’re not in a place where they can to be guaranteed that the adult is going to step in for them. It’s really good opportunity for me to talk about bullying being first and foremost an adult problem that we have to be in first line of defense for our kids.
Sarah Davis: It’s really interesting to hear all the different types of individuals that are involved in bullying. You never really hear it broken out that way. So what is the impact of bullying?
Dr. Julie McDaniel: So, let’s break it down between the individual and the school-wide impact. Individually, students are impacted academically where typically we’ll see those either grades start to reduce, we’ll see lack of homework, we’ll see a difference in their study habits. Physically, we may see unexplained bruises. We may hear about unexplained pains stomachaches, headaches, socially we watch kids become withdrawn, they have difficulty making and keeping friends and then emotionally we see everything from depression to anxiety so in ours the school culture this is where I think their focus should be a lot of times we think that this is a problem between two individuals and what we know is that bullying affects every single person around and so an entire school culture can feel the impact of a bullying situation. What we know is that in schools they report high degrees of bullying behavior. They have lower standardized test scores. We know that student and teacher absences are reflected by bullying situations so that when there’s high amounts of bullying reported, there are more teacher and student absences. We know that every thing is always linked to the safety support nature of the school culture and so when that school culture is experiencing a great degree of bullying behavior, we know that that culture needs to be strengthened - that there is a sense of safety that’s lacking there.
Sarah Davis: That’s very interesting because I think a lot of times you think of bullying as more one-on-one issue so for it to impact the school culture in that way, it’s really interesting how it’s such an issue. So how prevalent would you say bullying is in schools?
Dr. Julie McDaniel: This is a surprising statistic even though we have a decade of strong evidence that bullying is very prevalent in schools. The youth/risk survey which is given every two years by the Centers for Disease Control has told us, our high school kids have told us, that that 20% of them are being bullied on school property within months of the survey. This is happening 5 times over 10 years where they told us one and five in Michigan - it’s statistically significantly higher where we have one in four kids, 25% of our high school students in Michigan say that they’re being bullied on school property. This is not the neighborhoods or the malls, this is right inside of our schools before, during and after. So what we also have are the crime and violence statistics from the National Institute of Justice and what they do is they bring down bullying behavior by grade ages 12 to 17 and what we know is that is that bullying peaks in middle school and the latest statistics from 2018 show that 39% of sixth graders are being bullied on school property and then that number goes down so we know that bullying peaks in middle school. So it’s not getting any better and it’s staying a constant stable statistic despite all of our efforts.
Sarah Davis: Those are some pretty grim statistics why do you think the bullying issue isn’t getting any better?
Dr. Julie McDaniel: I hear this often is people still think that bullying is a right of passage. I hear parents say that it’s tough world out there and they want their kids to have tougher skin that they want be able to survive out there that is not an appropriate answer because bullying is not a natural way of going through life it is unnatural for people to treat one another that way the other thing is that children will never enter this earth with the capacity to bully they actually see other people do that and so when adults look at bullying behavior when kids are coming to them in reporting that and the adults are dismissing it, what it does is it causes kids to one go underneath and not share anything and the second thing which is even worse is for them to grow up believing that this is the right way to act. So adults either don’t want to see or they don’t see and then if they do see it they don’t want to respond in a helpful way. So what we’ve what we learned about is in 2013 the smartest bullying prevention people in the world came together - Teachers College - and they have this seminar called Beyond Bullying Summit and instead of talking about the bullying prevention programs what they did is they came together and they said the best way to prevent bullying is two things: the first is that there has to be a strong and supportive school environment. The first most important thing is that there’s a strong professional learning community that teachers and administrators trust one another. Once they trust one another than they trust the students then that leads to every student having a trusted adult in the school there’s so many good research-based ways to strengthen school culture. So that’s one thing. The second is that only in the safety support of school cultures can we really help kids develop socially and emotionally. A lot of push right now for social emotional curriculum but that’s never good to be effective unless we have a school that’s supportive and strong where teachers and students and administrators feel like they are in a place where they belong.
Sarah Davis: Given all that information, how does bullying even begin?
Dr. Julie McDaniel: So bullying behavior reflects the way we develop. The first way we develop is physically and so we’ll see tripping and pushing and shoving and and then as verbal skills start growing we also see verbal bullying and we see females developing faster. By the time kids are, girls especially, are in fourth-fifth grade, we start seeing social bullying we see boys, males in sixth grade, and so I think that that’s why it peaks in middle school this is happening as it’s not just a physical development but they’re growing socially and so right about the age of 12 kids shift their need for approval from adults to one another and so we see that dynamic play into the middle-school setting.
Sarah Davis: It seems like a lot of the focus of ongoing discussions, especially in the school setting, relates to cyber bullying in social media. Can you talk about where cyber bullying fits in?
Dr. Julie McDaniel: Sure, I think that it’s really very quick to say cyber bullying is a problem. One thing that I want to point out right away is that what they have looked at through the research is that cyber bullying actually begins in a face-to-face situation. So cyber bullying, the definition, is the same as bullying except that it takes place using electronic devices. This is not just social media, this is also online gaming chat rooms - anything that kids are doing online.
Sarah Davis: Based on everything we talked about so far, it seems like bullying is so common in schools. Is there really anything out there to protect our kids?
Dr. Julie McDaniel: There’s a lot out there. First of all, it’s good to know that there are laws in place in all 50 states. Michigan was the 47th state to enact an anti-bullying school policy. In our law, it says that it’s not just that bullying is prohibited behavior but it also requires every school district to have an anti-bullying policy that must be easily accessible on their website so there’s anti-bullying policies and all other schools in Michigan. In addition, cyber bullying last year there was a law, it was passed, that makes cyber bullying a possible felony if it’s a repeat offense - so there are strong laws in place. The problem with the laws is first of all that they don’t use the definition of bully that’s accepted by the Center for Disease Control by the research community and even by stopbullying.gov which is our federal site for anti-bullying and without the laws containing the same language as the accepted definition of bullying, what we have then is this continued misunderstanding about bullying behavior is. But that being said, there’s a lot of great things that are happening in our schools and I’m in the schools and I see that they’re in there is deliberate effort all the time to make sure that our kids are safe.
Sarah Davis: Are there any more additional resources available so the public can become more informed on this topic?
Sure, there are lots of resources. One example is Okay to Say which is a Michigan initiative you can call in or I’m through to their website and actually text any threat to a student and that is maintained by the Michigan State Police. There’s the Oakland Schools Bullying 101 page which provides a little bit more information than what we’ve been able to do here. There’s stopbullying.gov which is our federal anti-bullying site and is maintained by the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice and finally there’s the International Bullying Prevention Association website which is filled with research and blogs, newsletters there’s more information. I’m always available, if people are interested in contacting me, I can steer them to places.
Sarah Davis: Thank you Dr. McDaniel, your expertise on this important subject is invaluable.
Dr. Julie McDaniel: Thank you so much for having me.
Sarah Davis: It was my pleasure and thanks to all of you for listening. This podcast was brought to you by Oakland Schools Intermediate School Districts’ Communications Services.
Oakland Schools as a regional service agency that offers support services to school personnel which are better delivered regionally and provide cost size and quality advantages to those we serve.
You can find more information on Oakland Schools at Oakland.k12.mi.us. I have been your host for this podcast, Sarah Davis, and you can find this and future episodes of Educationally Speaking on Anchor FM or Spotify. We hope you’ll join us for next episode, where we will continue to bring discuss topics that affect Every student. Every day.