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Speaker: OTAN, Outreach and Technical Assistance Network.

Will Neddersen: Hello, everyone. Again, I'm Will Neddersen. The counterpart of me is Laura Flores Miranda, who's not with me today. You'll hear about barriers, and I'll explain why Laura is not here. But she has taken another job to support herself and just couldn't make it for this session today, but has been very active with me in our mid-term project. So just to make sure that Laura is present in the words that are here and the site itself.

So let's see if-- there we go. So Tustin Adult School's located in Orange County, California. Orange County is just a small county, but has quite a different range in who we serve throughout Orange County.

We're part of the South Orange County Regional Consortium. So we're the lower half of Orange County. Our surrounding cities are the City of Irvine and Santa Ana. To our north is unincorporated Santa Ana as well as the City of Orange itself.

So Tustin Unified is the school district we are part of. It's a K-12 district or TK-12 district that services roughly right now about 24,000 students district wide.

When looking at our makeup for Tustin Adult School, we currently have active for this school year 458 students. I'll give last year's number as just a comparison, though. We are seeing a definite drop in this year's enrollment. Last year, we had about 1,239 students. So it's pretty significant, and we've been fighting to have students come back on the campus or online as well.

Tustin Unified did open back up in September. We, for the fall semester, did not open back up in person. We had all of our classes online. And then in the spring semester, we attempted to open some in-person classes in the evening, and even with that, the numbers are much lower. I can give you a total number for all in-person classes that we currently have. There's about a total of 28 students that are attending. So we had to cut some classes and things like that.

But with that makeup of who we are for this year, our ESL population is at 262, our Citizenship Preparation is at 27, our ABE is at 21 students with the combination of a focus in reading, writing, and then in mathematics as well. And then, our Diploma & Equivalency program is about 159. I think for this year that's been a number we've seen increase or grow compared to our ESL, which has typically been our largest component of our school, making up almost 75% of our population. Definitely, a shift for this year.

Age range of our students is 18 to 81. And we're pretty proud of that 81-year-old as she is taking the online learning and running with it. I don't have an image of her here, but it's been pretty amazing to watch her train, work when I've been in the classes observing.

There are 12 various languages besides English that are spoken at home. Images on the side are all, again, pre-pandemic, except for the one in the bottom corner of the gentleman, Omar, carrying his American flag. That was right after he passed his citizenship test in November. So very proud in showing up this teacher.

But we had to have a special outdoor one-on-one diploma celebration and virtual celebration for graduation. So that was our way of being able to have graduates celebrate if you see the image of the graduate there. And so with that, let's talk about the makeup of our school of teachers.

So we have 25 part-time teachers. Again, as I shared, we have ESL, ABE, and then our adult secondary education. We prior to COVID had some basic computer classes, but those had to stop because we didn't have access to the lab. So it's just those three strong areas that we currently are offering.

Our classes are mornings. We separated Fridays just out because it's a special group. But mornings from 9:00 to noon. We've had some afternoon-- our ABE classes. Those parents have shared with us they would prefer to come in from 2:00 to 5:00 or be online from 2:00 to 5:00.

And then our evening classes from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. And then with our in-person classes starting back up in spring, we have a Saturday multilevel ESL class that is going on. So that is the make up of our teachers and just the images of one of our department meetings of some of our ESL teachers.

So the DLAC team is Laura Flores Miranda. She's considered our lead. She is the instructional coach for our school as of January 2021. That was a new shift in trying to look at support for technology integration as well as we're a new school to VOA bringing Co-Aps into play as well.

So Laura's role has shifted. Prior to that, she was for five years our lead ESL teacher. She was the one who suggested, "Hey let's apply," and I said, "All right, let's go for it." So with that, I'm the other part of the team. I joined Tustin Adult School in the 2018-2019 school year. So this is about my third year in adult education.

And then, those not present with us when we meet in DLAC meetings, but who have been present in trying to create our distance learning plan and really trying to think of our steps forward, have been a support from our school leadership of Virginia Burroughs, who took over the ESL lead teacher position from Laura, and then Stacie Sevcik who is counselor and our lead ASE teacher as well. So they are in the background. No images of them, but definitely a part of the work that we've been doing.

So this quote stands to sort of start where we were with applying for DLAC. "Change begins at the end of your comfort zone." So change when you're really comfortable or think you're doing well.

Again, we were seeing growth prior to the pandemic. In the 2017-2018 school year, we had almost 1,800 students that we were servicing. So we're pretty proud of that growth, knowing that four years earlier we were just rebuilding from flexibility and all those components.

So there was a comfort zone, saying, "Hey, we're doing well. We see some growth in our assessments. We're pretty comfortable." But really to look at change and the need for things, you've got to go past that comfort zone.

So with that, there was a nudge towards change. So when we applied for DLAC, it really was to look at the integration of digital literacy skills into our teachers' instruction. Again, ESL being our core, majority of that was paper/pencil in the classroom. Our paper/pencil CASAS test school had not done e-testing. So it really was-- our students didn't have access to a lot of devices.

I bought our first iPad cart when I came on as an administrator. But I'll be honest, it sat for about two months, because teachers were nervous about it, and students when they were brought out weren't sure about it as well.

So we really-- the conversation was how do we integrate these digital literacy skills into instruction to make it feel comfortable. So the classrooms themselves-- tech being used before this was just document, camera, and a projector, and a laptop to help if they needed for running our student management system ASAP.

But that was the basics of what we were doing. Textbooks were all hard copies. There wasn't a digital format of that, except-- the one exception is, for our high school diploma and high school equivalency programs, we had started to use an online platform. So for our high school diploma section, we used Edmentum, and for our HSE preparation, we used Aztec Software.

So those programs had been doing that, again, even prior to this application. We knew that we needed to invest more and push more for really building those digital literacy skills. So that was a nudge.

The true push to change making us really look past just digital literacy, skill, and integration was COVID. In March, when we were told all school sites were shutting down, what were we going to do for our students? It was right at our spring break, having to pivot and think, "What could we do for our students? What could we have our teachers do as their tech savvy skills were very limited? What do we do?"

So we went to an asynchronous situation where we taught our teachers how to use Screencastify to record lessons. We put it up onto a distance learning website that housed all of our teachers, so students could go and select it and watch those videos. Our teachers attempted to email students to keep an interaction or use Remind for those teachers that were using Remind.

So we saw all that, but we knew from that and our teachers found through that it was really hard to engage students. Emailing students, not a lot of responses coming back, Remind started to drop off in the middle of April. We weren't able to, again, do any post testing. So there was a lot of struggle with that.

So we knew for 2020-2021 that we just will need to be different and structure ourselves so we can engage our students. And that had to start with how were we going to encourage enrollment. And so we had to move to an online enrollment form. Google Forms became our friend, trying to create that form, putting it out on our website, so students could register for school or start the enrollment process.

And we even had to then say, "OK, what are we going to do for testing?" As I shared September test and open backup for the K-12, we were able, through executive cabinet approval, to have limited testing come in. So we started scheduling testing sessions. So we had students selecting dates and times that they would come in. We'd know the students coming in for contact tracing and having to follow all those procedures. So that was the starting of our change in our shift.

The other part of that was having our teachers learn how to use a live web-based video platform for testing. Testing unified overall is a Google district. Our students, though, didn't have Google accounts.

Our teachers were very inexperienced with using Google. So we taught them Google Meet to try and get students to engage with them on. So those are just some of those shifts that happened and made us how to re-evaluate what we were going to do in really building our distance learning plan.

Also, not having Google Classroom available to us and Tustin restricting certain components of access, we went to Google Sites to try and make it a platform where teachers could house information, put up assignments for students, and even if they had some recordings that they wanted to put up, trying to give that one-stop shop for our students to access, gain information that they might have questions on.

And the other side of that was helping the office staff be able to say, "Well, hey, let's go to this teacher website." So that was another new learning component that came up with our teachers.

So with that, another quote that is talking about change here-- "All great changes were preceded by chaos." So COVID made us feel a little chaotic. We were very reactive in our change instead of being purposeful in our change and what we needed to do. And I think that's where-- being accepted into DLAC and really starting to go through the process has helped us. So we're not having chaos everywhere and being reactionary. We're trying to be purposeful in our change and looking forward to that.

So with that, IDEAL 101 comes in and really it helped us focus on what change did we want. Not because we were responding to COVID and thinking, "Oh, we need change," but being purposeful in that change.

So really going through the chapters of IDEAL 101 in that breakdown of what the stage is going to look like-- How are we going to recruit? What's screening, what's orientation going to be? Really, it did provide for us a lens to say, "Hey, let's pay attention to those components. I think we were narrow-- sorry, I know I'm doing a dual screen. But we were very narrowly focused, where IDEAL brought it up and then said, "Hey, let's look at all of this." So that way you're purposeful.

And this survey data that we were completing really helped us do IDEAL 101 and then asking teachers questions as well and asking students' access points to technology and those components really helped us. We really hadn't started talking about screening students and orientation of students, going into the online platforms and making sure students understood. So that was a great thought process for us to really go through.

And then, just the insight that Destiny would give and provide on each of our components and our proposals really helped us. Laura and I enjoyed the questions. "What about this?" or "Did you think about that?" And it just spurred more thought and conversation that we brought back into leadership in really creating our distance learning plan. So IDEAL 101 really was a great focus for us.

But the other component of that was really saying, "Where do we want to narrow our goals?" I think we could address everything. And it feels like we might be addressing everything, but we really, in the leadership team and with staff, talked about what is it that we need for our students to look at being successful in the distance learning plan, but also bringing students back onto campus. What is it they need going back to that original idea of their digital literacy skills and access to technology?

So as you can see, these are the five areas that we've come up with to focus on for our plan. And that's technology access for our learners and staff. Really talking about recruitment, again, I'm going to acknowledge with you, like I shared earlier, our numbers are significantly down from the year before. So how do we recruit? How do we start making people feel comfortable whether it's coming back in person or being online? How do we support that?

Going through a screening and orientation process to really be able to say, "Hey, can we make some recommendations for you?" compared to just what a CASAS score gave us to talk about your ESL level or should you be in an ABE class or an ASE class.

And then really looking at professional development and support for our staff. As COVID hit and what we learned from OTAN was opening up office hours was an amazing thing that we started to do to provide teachers an opportunity to come in and ask questions. But we really wanted to be purposeful and focused in that. And I'll talk about that a little bit more.

And then instruction and assessment is always there, always an important component to be reflective on and know that we need to continue to build. So what we've accomplished so far in our distance learning plan. So we've purchased new devices for staff. So all of our staff members have a Surface Pro that our district adopted. We've used funds to purchase that for our staff members, to give them the up-to-date device to use, accessible in our classrooms, connecting to our TV monitors.

We've created an orientation video for students, a simple video. Laura loves bitmojis. You see Laura's bitmoji down there. I was just explaining, "Hey, this is what you're going to need to understand to be successful as a student."

And then, the recruitment side of that, trying to look at using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to recruit students. We had a Facebook page, but it was sort of stagnant. I'm going to be honest, as the leader of our school, lot of balls in the air, and I think needing to know how to delegate that out. So we have worked on that delegation and have started to put that out there. So we're getting some chatter from that, which is always a good thing.

And then also looking at when students are coming in, they've completed their online registration, coming in for their scheduled assessment, we're giving them a digital literacy screener. That really just asks these four basic questions. What are your skill levels on being able to work with apps, send an email, being online, just accessing the computer? So that way it helps us to see how we will, hopefully in the future, be able to provide support, but just give us an understanding.

We did ask those questions in our enrollment form as well, but it's been interesting to see how the answers change when they come in person to answer that. So it really tells us at home, completing the enrollment form, that there's somebody there with them.

A great example-- yesterday in classes, I was talking to a teacher doing Co-Aps, and we were using Google Forms to do some of that collection. And this was an in-person teacher who said, "You know, what do I do if the student doesn't have an email?" And that's sort of ironic, because to enroll, you have to have an email with us, so we can send you out a scheduler to set your appointment to come test with us.

And so we joked about, hey, that is definitely somebody else who's supporting and working with that individual, so they can get to that point of learning. So this is what we've worked on so far.

So the other thing to talk about is the other trainings that we've learned from Dr. Porter, conversations with our coach Susan Coulter, and then just Penny and Neda, your influence, as well as other OTAN conversations that we've had as well.

We were able to look at team building, in fact, creating a culture of change, and handling conflict. If you think about change, it can bring out some defensive walls to say, "I don't know if we can do this" in trying to bring that through. And then developing those communication skills to keep people informed and valuing our individual strengths and looking at not only us as the DLAC team members, but we talked about it in leadership, and then talked about our staff as well of how can we delegate some of that work, building on the skills that our teachers have.

So again, the whole point of putting us together-- it's a great puzzle that we all come together and can create something wonderful, but we've got to build it together.

So how we did that? So part of that in the team building is really going back to norms. Norms have always been present somewhere, but it brought us back to that point of saying, "Hey, what do our norms mean?" And one of them is really making sure our teachers felt like they had a voice. It's been pretty amazing for people to feel comfortable enough with the norms being the frame for us to exist in meetings, to really hear those voices.

And then, really talking about those individual strengths, just letting teachers share what their comfort level is with certain digital tools, of being online itself, and how they're engaging their students, it's been pretty powerful.

And then communication. We have weekly communication that's going out. And then, handling conflict. You heard me talk about that as well.

And then, our challenges ahead. It's a part-time staff and trying to keep people engaged-- as you see, Laura is not here. She's had to take on another position somewhere else. Funding for professional development and for technology, so we can learn a lot more components.

And then, building enrollment. It's a huge component for us. If you don't have the students, it's hard to keep things going.

And with that, our next steps. We're going to be building an onboarding workshop to build on digital literacy skills from our screeners as well as from teachers. Building a marketing presence.

We're going to start CASAS e-testing. And then, establish clear distance learning class expectations. What is it that we really want distance learning to be instead of being reactionary?

And with that, I close. "The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new." And that's what we're looking forward to.