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Speaker: Otan, Outreach and Technical Assistance Network.

Virginia Burrows: All right. Well, good afternoon, everybody. It's great to be here with you. I'm Virginia Burrows here with Will Neddersen at Tustin Adult School. And we're here to share our journey, our steps through DLAC.

Will Neddersen: So we want to start with this quote from Steve Jobs. And I think it's a great quote here. "I think this is the start of something really big. Sometimes the first step is the hardest one, and we've just taken it."

I think that's what we feel like right now in our journey with DLAC over the two years is we're creating something big. And the step might have been hard as we go through ups and downs, and you'll hear that today, but it started because we took that first step. So we're really excited about that.

Virginia Burrows: For those of you who don't know, Tustin Adult School is located in mid county, Orange County. We're part of the Tustin Unified School District. And we like to say we're about 20 minutes South of Disneyland, in case you're aware of that place.

Will Neddersen: Let's see if this will cooperate. OK, so here we go. We're rolling people, you know that's technology. So the makeup of our school. Our small little school has right now currently 854 students. As you compare it to last year, we've definitely grown from the 621 prior.

But I'll just be honest with you, two years ago, we lost and went to only 300, about 352 students. So we're celebrating the growth. But I'll be reflective with you, pre-COVID we were at 1800 students. So we've got to weigh the grow still. But our primary focus in our program is ESL, that's our bread and butter in one sense. It's our largest population of students enrolled with us.

We do citizenship preparation, adult basic education in mathematics and reading. And then we have our adult high school diploma and equivalency. I love this fact. We service the 18-year-old, but our oldest ESL learner is 81 years old.

That is just great to know that they're coming and wanting to still engage in English, that beginning literacy class-- I could keep talking, but I'll be quiet. And in our school represented we have a 20 other languages besides English. English that are represented.

Virginia Burrows: Because we're a small school, we have 30 part time teachers, which is one of our challenges. We have one part time counselor, seven classified staff who help glue everything together. Our classes are both online and in-person. And we offer instruction mornings, evenings, and Saturdays.

Will Neddersen: So a little bit about us now that we've been talking. Again, I'm Will Neddersen. I'm the Coordinator for our program. We don't have a direct principal, but I'm the administrator that oversees our programs so my title is coordinator. I joined Tustin Adult School in the 18-19 school year, so had a year under my belt before COVID and everything hit, so to try and understand.

My background prior to that, though, is elementary education in the same district. I'm going to add the reason that this is important is because I helped the school district pass a bond measure that was technology-based for the K-12 to bring technology to everyone. So that was something coming into the adult ed world. I'll bring a little bit more into that background.

Virginia Burrows: I'm Virginia Burrows. I'm currently the Instructional Coach for our ESL program. I began in adult ed way back in 1988 when I took a part time job as a bilingual instructional assistant. And I never looked back because I love adult education.

Will Neddersen: And she's kindly being shy, but she was the one that after flexibility that helped reopen Tustin in Adult School, and took that step back to give me the opportunity. So I love that. Our team as well is we have supporting team members. Virginia came on new this year four year two. My first year was with Laura Flores Miranda who had better opportunities, so we celebrate that. But she's still with the school in other ways.

And then we've worked with our leadership team that consists also of our school counselor and our adult ABE or lead ABE ASCE teacher. So Lillian Tran-Chow and Stacie Sevcik. So we just want to acknowledge them in that process.

Virginia Burrows: Great. We like this quote, "The first step towards success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself." We were at a place where we were kind of marching in place, but not moving ahead a whole lot. So DLAC really presented that opportunity for us to really try something new.

Will Neddersen: So we're going to call it the nudge, is what DLAC did, you know. We just became a We All agency, and so I'll send these things open in the introduction to OTAN was one of them. And an email came through that said, apply for DLAC. Well, let me give you a little background about Tustin Adult School.

Reopening, we were paper-pencil-based. Talking about my part time teachers, a lot of them are tired, paper and pencil is a safe place to be. The technology, if you were going to talk about what's available to our staff and students, it was a laptop, a document camera, and a projector. So thank you for that investment. But that's what was there for our students.

We might have had that one computer lab, but not a lot of technology for our students. And then our textbook didn't have that electronic component that we were using, so definitely heavy paper, pencil. So Laura came to me and said, hey, Will, we should really apply for this DLAC thing.

Yeah, OK, I'm an administrator trying to do it all. But she's like, no, Will. So I appreciate her nudge to that. And our focus on the initial application was to integrate digital literacy skills into our teachers instruction. As you heard, that's where our base was. Then--

Virginia Burrows: Basically the nudge became a big push and shove because this little thing called coronavirus happened. So we were starting that journey, and then all of a sudden, as with all of you, we ended up trying to figure out how the heck do we do this anymore.

So our first step was to go to asynchronous classes or independent study. And then that next fall we got our teachers on board with Google Meet and Zoom, and started that journey. And it wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy, but those were our first steps.

Will Neddersen: But it was amazing, I have to tell you. To think of a team who wasn't looking at technology, we did a lot of amazing things. And part of it was the interaction here. This image speaks to us a lot to DLAC, if I can just put it this way. Sometimes when you see this, you think of the team that's staying at the top ready to pull the next person.

I want to flip that view for you, and I want you to see us as Tustin Adult School, the ones trying to climb and reach out because we knew that we wanted to succeed and achieve higher for our students. And part of that was digital integration. The DLAC team, so Pinn and Nettie-- and Neta, sorry for that, Dr. Porter, Susan. It's that team that could reach up and support us, and pull us in moving forward.

So, again, as it says here, "The first steps towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are." We weren't going to stay. We knew that we wanted to make a difference. And I think that's the important piece.

So IDEAL 101 came into our existence. And with that, as you all know, it was a lens that really changed the focus of what are we going to look at, and things that we hadn't thought about, recruitment, about orienting individuals.

What is distance learning really going to be when you don't have distance learning? And all of a sudden you go to an online component that you know nothing about. It's a lot of those pieces. So we appreciate those components they made us think about.

And then being able to-- I know it was work for us those, of us that have this journey understand it-- to fill out the information to be reflective. But to then get the feedback from the teams-- I'm sorry, I'm looking at all of you in here.

The feedback that you talked about, the feedback, I'm going to call out Garden Grove and our team meeting with Susan as well, Destiny giving her insight and her questions too. I think we appreciate it because it really gave it a different focus.

So in that year and looking back at what we did at year one, you heard me say it was a laptop, document camera, and a projector that typically was technology at our school. We invested in purchasing Surface Pros that was our district's device. We had about 60 Surface Pros come on so we could lend them out to our high school side of the house or an ESL student who didn't have accessibility.

Teachers also got Surface Pros. And then we ordered 40 iPads to try and bring in-- because we were able to, the second half of the year, bring in students in a limited number quantity. So trying to bring that technology. And then the inspiration from you.

We understood that social media, we needed to get the word out. So we had a Facebook account that was stagnant, but looking at bringing in a Twitter account, Instagram account. Now if you try and look us up at Tustin Adult School we're still learning about it, if I can put it that way. We're keeping up with it, finding the managing it pieces. But it's that communication that's so important.

We are also hearing about orientation and wanting to give a clear picture for our students of what they should expect from us, created an orientation video. And then from IDEAL 101, the screener, what digital capabilities do you have.

And asking, we created a four question screener, can you send an email? Do you know how to navigate the website? Can you type? Those components. And it gave us a quick understanding of what our students had. As they were coming in and registering, they're answering this quick screener for us. With that we ended year one with our plan. Where was our focus.

And the five focus area is technology access for learners and staff. We knew that we need to invest in more technology. But we also need to do invest in getting into the hands of individuals. So we purchased more devices in those pieces.

Recruitment, mailing postcards, I know that sounds old fashioned as we're talking about digital literacy. But sometimes you need that, right? To say, oh, come into us, the Instagram and those pieces. Screening and orientation is a big piece that we've set this process. Our classified staff now understand you don't just come in to take a test with us, you're coming in, we're going to introduce, show a video. So really brought the classified staff on board.

Online registration was huge for us because we could start seeing who are we missing that comes and fills out a registration form? How can we follow up? So that wasn't even our teaching staff, but our classified staff. And then professional development and staff support, so how we built for year two. I know Virginia will get more into that.

And then looking at instruction and assessment. You heard me talk about paper and pencil, I can proudly say now this year, I can count the number of paper-pencil tests we've given on my hand because we went e-testing. We took the steps. So those are big for us. So to those that are larger, please understand it's big for us.

Virginia Burrows: All right, I jumped in year two. And the things that stood out for me from this work was the Triple E framework, because it really informed us of the components that matter for digital resources. It was very helpful when we looked at building our rubric about what we should be considering. That was a great exercise for us.

We had Melinda come and do a whole professional develo-- she didn't come, she came virtually-- the Google Suite. Which helped-- our district is a Google district, but the adults had never gotten in on any of that training. So it was our turn, and that was very helpful. It was kind of the first step for most of our teachers for getting into, like, a digital suite of tools.

The sessions, I love Dr. Porter's things on the leadership aspects. How we perceive ourselves as a cultural entity, how our community sees us. Having difficult conversations with faculty and staff who weren't quite moving into those places as quickly or as seamlessly as we had hoped.

And then the integration of technology, we actually-- we tried something and ended up having to pivot it a little bit. So that was good learning for us. What we accomplished, we developed onboarding workshops that we developed in terms of being offered before instruction started in basic email, understanding and being comfortable with an online platform. As well as a new curriculum, which we started, which we did Burlington English.

For professional development we tried to really bring what Melinda had taught us into teachers hands in smaller pieces at that point. So that they could understand how to make and use a Google form with students in an iPad. Or how to do a QR code to make that another way that students could access content.

And then finally our rubric. The rubric we developed we applied to USA Learns, specifically the citizenship curriculum. Because our citizenship people didn't really have a lot of digital aspects to their curriculum. And we know that that matters maybe even more to them. So that's something where we did an application to that. Sometimes you have to take a half-step back to take a step forward.

Will Neddersen: We've had to remember that. That half-step back is important. So we're going to call it missteps, but really we look at it and we've tried to frame it as a change of course to move forward. Part of that onboarding, we celebrate that we did it, we piloted it.

But I'm going to be honest with you, enrollment was low, attendance was even lower. We attempted it twice, and even got the worse results. So we know that there's a change in that. With that we've looked that we would want to bring in a team that's going to go into actual classrooms, because we learned from our teachers as well. Teach us all together so we all together how to work and function.

So that's one of our plans is taking a coach, myself, and another teacher to go in and support. And then professional development, using Google Forms to ask our teachers and survey. They shared with us, we need more time to think.

So allowing a time of collaboration where we're quiet, and they can exchange ideas together, and reflect on what we've just learned together or what we've learned in the past, to refine our practice, it's huge and it's important.

So that's part of what we're looking to move forward with. Challenge is still, the slide is the same one. Part time staff is always going to be a challenge for us. Funding for professional development and for technology, I'd love to get a technology piece into every one of my adult's hands that comes through our door, so that way they can touch it.

Because sometimes touching it breaks that fear of even working with technology. And being able to take that first step and be risk takers is huge. We want them to be innovators, creators, they have to touch the device first. And then enrollment, you heard me say we're still behind on that. We want to build that.

And we close with this, I just want to read this quote to you. "A leader is someone who steps back from the entire system, and tries to build a more collaborative, more innovative system that will work over the long term." DLAC and I know Tim, thank you for taking us on to build us as leaders. And we hope that we can build leadership at our own school so they can be collaborators and innovators as well. So we know there's more future work to do. But thank you very much.

[audience clapping]