As in previous cohorts, Lead Innovation Teams engaging as members of VaLIN Cohort 3 were expected to identify and begin to operationalize local actions advancing deeper learning, expanded equity, and increased learner engagement strategies foundational to the Commonwealth’s Profile of a Virginia Graduate outcomes. Although the implementation team helps facilitate the network’s activities, the VaLIN work is necessarily collaborative and driven by local school division needs.
Phase 1: The Journey Begins (August - October 2021)
Engagement as a member of a VaLIN Cohort unofficially began with the completion of their team’s application. Identified team leads completed the application as referenced above in the description of Lead Innovation Teams, framing their problem of practice that would drive their engagement as a member of the cohort.
This identified problem of practice resulted in alignments of division teams with others in similar focus areas. Through coaching partnerships initiated in August-September 2021, teams began to refine their problem of practice based on identified readiness indicators framed in the VaLIN Innovation Framework.
On October 7, 2021, participating educators convened to officially begin their journey as a cohort via the VaLIN 3 Cohort Launch. During this full-day virtual experience, participants were able to confirm concept attainment around urgency and technical aspects of VALIN 3; clarify goals, current state awareness, and metrics for success; meet and develop an initial working relationship with other teams in similar pathways, and; work with their coaches to design and confirm roles to realize an actionable implementation plan.
Note: This virtual launch experience had initially been designed to be offered in person in Chesterfield, Virginia. However, the continuing spread of Covid-19 resulted in the need to adjust approaches in an effort to ensure participant safety and well-being. As in Cohort 2, the echoes of the impact of emergency response measures permeate each and every team's engagement as a member of VaLIN Cohort 3, with the pandemic response continuing its role as a catalyst for change in its own right.
Phase 2: Designing Solutions (October - December 2022)
Throughout the fall, division teams partnered with their ALP Innovation Coaches for support with their most urgent needs, a partnership that would extend throughout the year. Approximately monthly coaching sessions with each team helped to serve as an accountability mechanism of sorts, ensuring that each team was able to protect the bandwidth to maintain their efforts.
To supplement this coaching partnership, ALP innovation coaches also offered an array of content-focused webinar series throughout the winter and into the spring. Topics included explorations of innovative approaches to instruction, processes for systematic development and implementation of performance tasks, strategies for engaging and mobilizing community in all its forms, and recommendations for nurturing a culture of learning, among others. While the experiences were designed specifically for teams united under a shared Change Catalyst, all members of the Cohort were invited to attend these informative sessions.
Throughout the year, the teams also leveraged shared learning spaces within the What School Could Be platform to promote continued networking. The Group within this learning space served as a de facto hub of connection in the windows between synchronous learning events, and would later emerge into a supportive learning space for teams to engage in synchronous virtual and face-to-face learning as well.
Phase 3: Taking Action and Aligning Efforts (January 2022 - March 2022)
Professional learning support initiated in 2021 continued into the 1st half of 2022. Early 2022 found each team on a continuum of phases of implementation of their innovation, essentially categorized into three different states. Teams were either a) on the precipice of implementation, b) in the midst of initial implementation, or c) engaged in one or more iteration cycles of their innovation. As such, teams engaged in personalized division-focused coaching as well as a calendar of networked learning offered across divisions based on their stage of readiness.
Almost two years to the day following the mandated closure of schools across the Commonwealth, VaLIN Cohort 3 united in space and time for the Spring Networking Event. Learning experiences within this cohort-wide full-day session were intended to support alignment and advancement of each team's movement in adherence with the VaLIN Network's mantra: Small Steps. Big Change. Deeper Learning, Together. This much-needed opportunity for collective and collaborative learning not only fueled the alignment of teams’ efforts toward community-based realization of the Profile of a Graduate, but also deepened the relationship capital necessary for continued interconnectedness during and following the cohort experience.
Phase 4: Amplifying Success (April 2022 - June 2022)
Throughout the spring, teams channeled their efforts toward realizing their implementation goals and capturing the story of those innovations in a variety of formats. These stories of innovation around divisions’ shared catalysts of change have the potential to serve both future cohorts and divisions across the Commonwealth in support of their own local efforts. As of Fall 2022, these products are in the process of being curated along with others from Cohorts 1 and 2 on a VALIN website designed and maintained by the Commonwealth Learning Partnership.
The Cohort 3 journey culminated with a Celebration Event in June 2022. This full-day onsite session in Chesterfield provided the cohort with opportunities to share with and learn from each other during cross-divisional Campfire Sessions, leveraging the power of story to inspire insights and action. These insights and the follow-up action planning sessions empowered and equipped each team to take 'the next small step' to advance local efforts to realize the Profile of a VA Graduate, generating sustainable momentum that could evolve this year’s work into its next stages within and beyond the division.
Process Improvements from Cohort 2 to Cohort 3
- Clarified Intended Outcomes - The design team focused outcomes on district development of story-driven, resource-rich artifacts to be curated into a thematically aligned collection of Innovation Pathways.
- More Systematic Leveraging of Cohort I and II Work Products - The implementation team more intentionally utilized the culminating products from previous implementations to serve as an accelerator in helping divisions identify entry points and applicable strategies.
- Continuation of Pre-Launch Coaching - Innovation coaches connected with teams throughout August and September 2021 to unpack their district’s applications and level-set around expectations for engagement within the Network.
- Design Using Innovation Framework - Team-based design was anchored and further codified by a research-based Innovation Framework authored by the implementation team and informed by Cohort I division teams.
- Strategic Virtual Engagements - The virtual shifts spurred on by emergency response learning during Cohort 2 led to the intentional application of hybrid learning models within Cohort 3, both out of necessity and good stewardship of time and resources.
- Deepening of Leadership Involvement - VaLIN Steering Committee members increased the direct support of district leadership and the team’s appointed lead to ensure consistent communication and engagement.
Join Our Next Cohort
Cohort 3 Participants:
Isle of Wight County
Manassas Park City
New Kent County
Newport News City
Prince Edward County
Virginia Beach City