Peer-to-Peer State Collaboratives: Sharing Successes & Final Convening
As described in earlier posts, for the past two years, the Center has hosted peer-to-peer collaboratives for state educational agencies (SEAs). The 10 participating states have been working together to address their most urgent and important needs related to alignment, coherence, and strategic communications of SEL, school safety and other whole-person strategies and initiatives.
Over the past two years, the collaborating state teams have participated in professional learning sessions, peer consultancies on shared problems of practice, and virtual convenings. Teams have also met regularly with technical assistance (TA) liaisons from the Center every 4-6 weeks while advancing the team’s work in between meetings.
This September, as the collaboratives came to a close, the Center hosted a final convening for participating states. Participating teams shared key accomplishments, including:
- Inventorying the many initiatives related to SEL and whole person support that exist across their SEA — or multiple state agencies — and using these inventories to begin building relationships and aligning efforts across divisions and/or agencies.
- Creating strategic communications plans that have helped their states communicate a clearer understanding of SEL and whole person initiatives — including their value — to others within state agencies, to policymakers, and to the field.
- Creating strategic communications plans that have helped others understand the connection between physical safety and psychological safety (and thus, the importance of strategies that support psychological safety — such as mental health support, SEL, and trauma-informed practices — for supporting physical safety as well).
- Revising existing SEL-related initiatives to incorporate a stronger focus on equity. For example, Indiana updated its SEL competencies using an equity lens, and Michigan produced guidance on appropriately addressing issues of equity when implementing universal screening as part of MTSS.
To support this work, the Center employed several guides developed by WestEd to respond to needs expressed by states within the collaboratives and across the field. These included:
- Serving the Whole Person: An Alignment and Coherence Guide for State Education Agencies
- Serving the Whole Person: An Alignment and Coherence Guide for Local Education Agencies
- Spotlighting Whole Person Success: A Guide for Using Statewide Data to Identify Exemplar Districts in SEL and School Climate
Several states piloted initial versions of these guides and produced valuable feedback to improve the final, published versions. In some cases, the states’ pilot experiences resulted in the publication of case studies, such as:
- Delaware’s use of the Alignment and Coherence Guide for SEAs, documented in Breaking Down Barriers, Building Relationships: Delaware’s Collaborative Approach to Inventorying Whole-Child Efforts.
- North Dakota’s use of the Guide for Using Statewide Data to Identify Exemplar Districts, resulting in a case study of two rural SEL exemplar districts: Preparing Students for Life Beyond the Classroom: Spotlighting Success in North Dakota.
Finally, the participating states shared their goals and plans for how to continue their efforts of (1) creating alignment and coherence across whole person initiatives, particularly at the state level, and (2) improving communication about whole person initiatives both internally and to the field.