Speaker: OTAN, Outreach and Technical Assistance Network. Welcome, everyone. I'm Nate Sachdeva and I'm with Nicole Lincoln. We are at San Diego Adult School. We are a part of San Diego Unified School district, which services over 100,000 students in grades K through 12. We're very excited to be here today. Thank you for the great turnout and having the extra guests in as well.
Nate Sachdeva: So here's a picture of each of us dressed up looking nice. Normally we don't wear shirt, wearing ties, and suits, and everything in San Diego, but for picture day it's always worth it. So at San Diego Adult School we offer a high school diploma program that is really for the students that-- we're targeting our students that were not successful in our comprehensive high schools.
And so we know that the traditional classroom experience might not fit their learning styles or what their schedule is looking like or what's going on in their lives. So we really try to cater to the individual student. So we offer an online educational experience. We do offer accelerated opportunity. Students truly learn and progress at their own pace.
So students can really buckle down if they have the time in their schedule to get their diploma rather quickly compared to some of our other programs, but also offers flexibility in terms of the student that is working or might have family obligations outside of school to go at their own pace and be able to work when it is best for them.
We have an opportunity to offer two types of diplomas, both the option one and the option two. And currently we have 400 students that are benefiting from our services as well as the high school diploma program and our aid program. Students receive free college and career transition support as well from our partners at San Diego workforce partnership.
I work out of the Office of college and career technical education. And so it's really a goal for us to make sure that our students are not only in our program to get their high school diploma, but also to prepare them for the career that they're going to be passionate about. So we don't want them to come to our program just for high school diploma and we don't want them to get a high school diploma just to get a job. We really want it to be a fit for them and something that they're excited about.
In order to do that, we also require the students to take a community college course with our partners at the Community College of San Diego Continuing Education, and that really gives them the opportunity to take a college course with teacher support and walk away knowing that hey, I earned my high school diploma and if I choose to go to college I know I can do it. I've already taken one class, I've been successful, and I've got one foot in the door and now I'm ready for that next step.
We consist of six school sites across the district. We have sites at Crawford high school, Garfield high school, Lincoln high school, Madison high school, Mira Mesa high school, and Morse high school. This allows us to bring students in from all over the district. San Diego is quite a large city and sometimes commuting for that in-person support is not ideal if you're living at one end of the city. So this way students can really access no matter where they live.
When the instructors are there, Monday through Friday during the traditional school hours, they offer the tutoring services. They can guidance. And they also offer one-on-one support when needed, and we've really found that that helps a lot in terms of building that relationship between the student and the teacher.
Many of our students that come to our program were not successful in our comprehensive sites, and one of the reasons for that is because they didn't feel a part of the community, part of the school, or have those deep relationships, or feel like somebody on the campus truly cared about them or knew them as a person. In order to do that, we really want to make sure that our teachers and students have the opportunity to interact and really build that relationship.
At our Mira Mesa high school diploma program, we also offer the ABE classroom, and that offer for adult basic education as well as English language skills support. We have a wonderful retired teacher who has years and years of English language skills support and she does a phenomenal job of making sure our students build up those skills in order to access our content.
We really look at the students that are 18 and 19 years old that weren't successful in our program or our comprehensive sites. And then our partners at the Continuing Ed offer the 20 and over. And then we both flip-flop students with unique situations. So if we have an 18 or 19-year-old who really needs that structured environment of in-class specific hours, et cetera, then we will always grant them a waiver so that they can enroll in their program.
And in addition to that, if we have somebody who is 22 years old but really needs as working or has a family at home and can't do this any time, then they are welcome into our program. So it's worked out very nicely that way. And really we want to make sure that our students can access our curriculum at their times.
We've learned through the pandemic that many of our students that have been successful weren't actually completing their coursework from 8 AM to 3 PM. It was oftentimes after they got home from work or after they got the kids to bed or on the weekends and that's when they had time, and having the online opportunities really opened the door for all those students.
This is our team. So in order to reach the needs of all these students, we have our six high school diploma teachers as well as Carrol Wise who is our ABE instructor. And we also have Krisley Tate who's our school counselor. And Krisley follows, she handles a lot of the enrollment, the transcript verification, and as well as setting up ways to be that first face when entering the program and launching our orientation.
Now the DLAC 101 really align perfectly for us. I began with San Diego Adult Schools in February of 2020. So this is a brand new experience to me. And obviously the pandemic came and threw a lot of things up in the air as to what we were doing. Luckily, we had transitioned from a packet based program to the online platform approximately two years ago.
And so once the pandemic hit we were already ahead of the gain in terms of having an idea of-- students could access our program, which was really huge for us because we didn't have to go back and learn or try to take on a new approach for things. But we did need to make sure that we could get devices out to students in a timely fashion.
And with the benefits of our program, the students have the-- we've learned through the readings that we've gone through with DLAC, the assignments and the activities, and really appreciate all the virtual professional development. All of the items and activities that we've done throughout the program have really aligned with the work that we already were doing and it really gave us an opportunity to create a template, a plan and get really all of our ideas on paper and focused and targeted, which was really needed during these crazy times.
Everybody had more on their plate this year and having that guided approach really benefited us as a team and as well as me as a new administrator of the team to make sure that I was keeping focused on our vision and making sure we're hitting the checkpoints along the way.
As we transition to the school year, we really found out like I said that transitioning into the online learning environment benefit a lot of our students but it doesn't work for every student. And so we also have been able to reopen our school sites across are unified on April 12th. So we're now offering our in-person support as needed at our learning centers and we're going to continue this model into the fall in future years as well.
So if a student is showing us that they are successful after hours and on the weekends, they can-- they're still welcome to come to our learning center, but we are not going to require them to come in as long as they're doing well. But we always want to make sure that we offer those supports to the students who need them. And this so far has turned out to be a really nice balance of opportunities for the students.
We've really learned a lot about the students themselves to this program as we got to know them more as people and the different things that they're going through. And we know that the things that we offered in the past that we want-- we thought offering, we need to make sure that the students are in for four hours a week and they're doing all these check ins, but then we also learn that there's also a group of students that are able to do things independently. And we want to make sure that we're offering that as well. So we're learning that more students have been more successful. We're also getting them the opportunity to work around their schedule and really meet the needs of that individual student.
Nicole Lincoln: So skills learned through DLAC virtual training session. So team building. We placed a lot of emphasis on collaboration and shared commitments. Our members were able to share the information freely, which helped increase productivity of our planning and implementation. Our team was really receptive to what we were trying to do. So we were appreciative of that.
Setting a culture for change and learning. Through our biweekly meetings we were able to collaborate and use constructive problem solving to improve any ongoing adjustments that we needed to make during this process. And it was just based on evidence with what was working with our students and what might not have been working.
Handling conflict. We may have had some disagreements here and there, but we were able to work through it along with several of the lessons that we learned through the virtual training sessions, mutual respect for one another. It's OK to disagree. So at the end, we were able to walk away from our discussions with the team and understand that nothing was personal and that we were here to accomplish the goal, which was ultimately making sure students were successful on our program.
Next slide, please. Continuing with the skills-- I need to go back one more. Yes. Continuing with the skills that we learned during the virtual training, communication skills were important. We wanted to make sure that we were actively-- actively listening to the ideas and input from our team members when in regards to anything that was being discussed.
An open and free exchange of ideas without fear of ridicule, which didn't seem to be too much of a problem for our group. We have a very outspoken team group. So that worked out well. And then there was a belief that all the ideas contributed to the goals of the group. So we were able to gather a lot of ideas from our group as we went through this process about what worked because a lot of our teachers have been an adult at first more years than myself.
So moving forward, we use-- in-- this part I speak to specifically Nate and myself. I think we worked well as a team as we took ideas from the group and put together this plan. While there's little overlap in our-- little to no overlap in our theme of one of our strengths, it's probably a strong reason why we work well on this project. We were able to rely on one another and focus of needs that-- our strength or strong. It might have been not as strong in me, but it ended up working well that we were able to come together and put this together.
Next slide. OK. So what challenges and barriers that we encounter? As mentioned before, securing devices and internet access for our students. This was magnified during COVID-19. And we were able to work through this with the support of the district getting Chromebook as well as we're-- I have to read this one more time. We were able to receive district support. So the changes that have been made is that we're going to purchase more Chromebooks in order for our students to have access to the technology in order to access the curriculum. Next slide.
Next step. We're utilizing the support from OTAN to redesign our recruitment strategies, our orientation process, and our enrollment procedures. And we're looking forward to putting these ideas into practice in the fall of 2021. We're also looking to incorporate some sort of strengths inventory similar to the Gallup strength-- the Gallup Clifton Strengths exercise that we were able to take during the DLAC 101.
And then we feel like incorporating an assessment of this type will allow us to understand the type of student that we're working with and basically maybe guide them into their next future steps if that is college or career and just understanding the student more.
So support, help, and others. So what support do we need as a team? So our team will be looking for feedback and advice regarding the implementation of the inventory. If any group out there as had an opportunity to provide or provide their students with something like this, we would definitely be open to hearing about that.
Assistance from the DLAC staff, their availability, their support, expertise is appreciated as we continue to navigate through this process. And other areas of importance. Just any type of strategies, groups out there that may have to continue to keep our student population engaged and focused on their quest for a diploma and their eventual the movement into career.
So in summary, DLAC has uniquely situated-- has uniquely situated-- is uniquely situated to meet the needs of our program as it focuses on the online experience. We found that we were ahead of the game when COVID hit because we were actively moving toward-- moving our curriculum to being on online.
We've also learned that we need to meet students where they are as opposed to where we are. It's important to student success. And we realize that through the flexibility of our programs. Students logging in at midnight, 5 AM is definitely ideal for the busy lives they lead. We've also recognized our supply of technology can be a challenge. And so we're going to work on that as well as when technology becomes antiquated or damaged and replacement of that.
And we're looking to-- we're redesigning our curriculum-- I mean, redesigning our recruitment strategies, orientation process, and enrollment procedures for the new school year. And we just want to continue to create an experience that's unique to our student and that is rewarding to our student. And lastly, we want our students to be excited about their next steps after earning their diploma and their future career goals. And that concludes the presentation.