What is the Communicating School Redesign Course?

Shaping Our Future Together: Communicating School Redesign (CSR) is founded on an evidence-based strategy for building public will. This strategy has three parts:
• Creating a common narrative
• Identifying opportunities for meaningful dialogue in school and community
• Engaging youth and adults as change agents

SOFT-CSR-2015courseEach spring, Vermont schools apply and are selected to participate in the “Communicating School Redesign: Shaping Our Future Together” initiative (CSR) to introduce both personalized learning and proficiency-based learning to all stakeholder groups in their community.   CSR schools recruit a team of 6-8 youth and adult participants, who engage in a year-long effort to build understanding and support for Act 77 and proficiency-based learning.

Schools receive training and coaching by means of a credit bearing course, Communicating School Redesign. Each team conducts research about their community’s mental models of education and learning in order to shape its own local research-based communications campaign. Teams then reach out to students, teachers, parents, and the community by leading small and large discussion forums, employing traditional media (press releases, opinion editorials, etc.), social media and web development, and producing original videos. They enjoy the mentorship of course alumni from previous years, becoming part of a growing cadre of teams that are capable agents for school change.

The course includes:

  • Developing an understanding of research-based communications theory
  • Learning effective dialogue strategies
  • Becoming experts in Act 77 and proficiency-based learning basics
  • Building vital youth-adult teams who partner in their role as change agents
  • Reviewing existing communications tools and strategies and build new prototypes
  • Conducting and implementing research-based campaigns, receiving on-going coaching and support throughout the year

Adults receive master’s level credit from St. Michael’s College for this year-long commitment or can choose professional development hours instead (click here to read the graduate course syllabus).  Youth team partners have several options.  They can enroll in the CCV dual enrollment course that complements Communicating School Redesign, titled, “Small Group and Interpersonal Skill Development”.  Alternately, some students choose to pursue high school independent study credit, and others engage in the work as a vital part of their extracurricular mix of activities.  Both the master’s level and CCV dual enrollment course options have been designed on proficiency based model.

A comprehensive evaluation of the CSR course as a collaborative effort with the Vermont School Board Association and Vermont Agency of Education provides rich overview of this undertaking.  This was conducted by Dr. Catharine Biddle of Pennsylvania State University.  (Note: CSR was piloted with four schools during the preceding 2014-15 academic year, as part of the Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together program.  This seeded the concept of extending the reach of this effort to all Vermont schools.)

Watch the video below to hear reflections from CSR Participants from the 2015-16 school year:

CSR Course Flyer for the 2016-17 School Year

CSR Course Application for the 2016-17 school year