For the Rewarding Excellence in Instruction and Leadership (REIL) initiative, a TIF-funded project led by MCESA, the TLP Community and the access it has provided to thought partners have been instrumental in the grantee's success, according to Project Director Lori Renfro.
Lori recently spoke to the TLP team about the role the TLP Community--including the U.S. Department of Education, other TIF grantees and the technical assistance (TA) team--has played in the evolution of the MCESA TIF grants. (MCESA is a recipient of TIF3, 4 and 5.) She noted that interaction with TA experts, connections between MCESA's work and the work of other grantees, as well as resources available through the TLP Community, have influenced the grantee's efforts to restructure its salary schedule, so it provides base-pay increases based on educator effectiveness.
"The TIF TA team provided feedback and helped us communicate with USDOE. USDOE helped us refine our model. Another example is the TIF-funded work in Tennessee, Ohio, and Texas, which influenced the way that we conceived of the various student growth drill downs in our data management system--finding a way to break down complex statistical information into a series of relatively consumable and easy to interpret and navigate drill downs."
Networking with other TIF grantees helped MCESA make strides in its work. For example, Lori recounted how another TIF grantee positively influenced the professional learning and support MCESA provides building-level administrators.
"We recently rolled out professional development for building-level administrators incorporating concepts from Leverage Leadership (Bambrick-Santoyo, 2012) which came about due to a conversation with another grantee [Denver] about their use of the six steps of effective feedback discussed in the book. This resulted in enhanced knowledge and skills among our field specialist cadre (who support our partner LEAs) and building-level administrators related to building culture, using data, post-conferencing with educators, and providing feedback via frequent walk-throughs."
Lori's sentiments are clear: The TLP Community has influenced MCESA grant implementation in a big way. What advice would Lori give new grantees to help them get the most out of the TLP Community?
- Request technical assistance! You have access to resources and support, including national experts in the field; use them.
- Make yourself a recurring calendar invite to review the TLP Community of Practice website until it becomes part of your routine; you will come across resources that will help you.
- Don't let anything keep you away from project director meetings, regional meetings, and TIF webinars. Attending these events exposes you to important content-and many contacts-which you can reach out to later for support. Keep the attendee list provided at these events by your computer as a handy reference.
- Skim through the project abstracts on the TLP webpage. You will see projects similar to yours, and then you can reach out if you need a thought partner.