Notes from the Bald Man – July 2018

July 6th, 2018

Dear Community Builder,

I hope this finds you all well and not too warm.

Summer is a pretty great time, as we all know. Time to be outside and enjoy the sun.

For us, staff at LCMC, as is true for most educators, summer is also a time to reset and prepare for the year to come, and THIS year is going to be a BIG one for us. In addition to pushing out new workforce and academic initiatives that better serve the needs of our learners, we are also re-structuring internally. The big push is for us to be better at collecting student data and being smarter about using that data to help us move forward as we develop new programming.

LMS (Learning Management System):

 To start, we just signed on with Schoology in late June, which is a Learning Management System (LMS), which, if you do not know, is a digital product that allows students, tutors, and staff to better manage/see how a student is progressing in REAL-TIME.

In the short-term, this will only affect ESL students in the Ventures curriculum, but eventually, all our students will have access to this platform. Those of you who are tutoring students in Ventures will get an email in August that will explain how you can use this digital platform. We will also do some in-person trainings. This will not require much from you, and in fact, you will see that it will help us streamline the reporting process for all tutors regardless of curriculum.

In late July, the Tutoring Program team will send a new link to the new report. The report has different questions than you are used to, but they will give us all a much better sense of where students are and it will make us more informed, so we can help you as you do your work as tutors.

Some of this data will populate the LMS, and it will be accessible to your students through a student portal, which the LMS affords. In a sense, though the LMS does a lot for us on the back-end, for the student, it will be a portal where for now, they will be able to access their student record with us. In the long run, our hope will be that they also be able to access supplemental academic practice through the portal. Schoology is mobile friendly, so students who don’t have computers, can still access the product on their phones.

Squish Goals and the Three E’s, OR: Why an LMS for Us, and Why Now?: 

Last year when I started with LCMC, I held a series of Town Hall Meetings with tutors across the county. The purpose of these was to describe some things that were coming down the pike for us. At those meetings, I talked about “Squish Goals” and “The 3 E’s,” which I think sounds like a bad band from the 50s, but it is something much better.

For those of you who were not present at our meetings, “Squish Goals” are those goals that students have that are not easily tracked by standardized testing, and that we have not been able to intelligently track with our current system. The “Squish Goals” are action points like applying for a job online, getting a driver’s license, getting citizenship status. These are goals that connect to one of the three E’s, but that are not academic, and hence, will not be reflected when your learner comes in to test.

The tracks that all our students will eventually get placed into are as follows:

  • Everyday Living (for students who just want to speak well enough to navigate the county)
  • Economic (students who seek jobs)
  • Education (students who want college or advanced vocational training)

It is true that many students will have more than one of these, but we want to know what is the ONE most important driver for them to be with us. You will still work with your learner as you always do, but knowing what your student’s ultimate goal is will help you help the learner figure out the appropriate “Squish Goal.” One of the questions on the new report will be asking you how your student is progressing on his/her “Squish Goal.” That information will then be reflected on the LMS.

Please don’t worry if this all seems hazy. When you see the report, you will see that Alexandra has laid everything out clearly, and as always, we are here to help.

The goal of all of this is to help students see their progress while they are with us—but the progress cannot only be academic, in nature since they are adults, and often, academic progress is driving towards goals that are not academic, such as work, or more comfort talking to a child’s teacher.

In the end, the easiest way to explain a “Squish Goal” is to say that they are ways for us to help celebrate student milestones that connect to academic success but that are not necessarily academic. This is so important for adult learners, and unfortunately, many Adult Ed programs do not make capturing them a priority.

LCMC will not make that mistake.

The New Curricula: Ventures for ESOL and Barton for BL:

This all connects to our new ESOL and BL curricula. Both allow for us to test students in the tutoring program every time they reach a certain number of hours of instruction, or in the case of BL students, when they pass out of a level in the Barton curriculum. Part of what the new report will allow us to do is to track when each student hits that 50-hour threshold/passes the level, which is vital to helping us make sure that students and you as their tutors are getting the support you need.

This is why monthly reports have become so important for us, and why Fidel is sending reminders to all of you. I realize that some of you feel this is a bit much, since you always send reports, but this is only meant as a friendly note to remind and to thank you. Please take it as such. I cannot tell you how much his reminder emails have helped us in the way of upping our return rate on our tutor reports.

That was a lot… Isn’t the summer supposed to be relaxing?

There is a lot here, I know. My purpose for writing this little note is not to overwhelm; rather, my goal here is to give you a high-level overview, so you can have context for the changes we are making org-wide.

Please know that these changes will be incremental, and you are not expected to remember any of this. We will send you specific directions as we move forward, and we are doing all of these things piecemeal to make it easier for us and for you.

BUT PLEASE also know that these changes are necessary as we move forward. Our funders are requiring more data from us, but more importantly, the LMS, the new report, and the new curricula will help us collect and coordinate our data in a way that serves our learners better.

SO, please join me in a collective deep breath. Enjoy the summer, and we will be in touch.

Best,

Gabe

Aka, the Bald Man