February 4, 2022

Building Coherence for Student Success

By Dr. Allison Layland, Eloise Sanchez, and Sonja Evensen

The Region 18 Comprehensive Center (R18CC) team of Dr. Allison Layland, Eloise Sanchez, and Sonja Evensen were able to travel recently to Palau (Belau), from January 10 to 14, 2022, for our first face-to-face meeting with the Palau Ministry of Education (MOE) and school teams with whom we have been working remotely this past year for the project on the “Comprehensive Approach to Transformational Instruction for Student Success.” In preparation for the training in Instructional Transformation, the team had a great preliminary conversation with Director Ida Kilcullen and Chief Lucia Tabelual. They were excited about the idea to consciously connect all the planning efforts.

The power of connection is evident in Palau where residents connect all their actions to impact or support their environment. Palau is known for its progressive programs on responding to climate change and protecting the environment, especially their coral reefs. Through our discussion, Palau MOE is making connections among their efforts to build student success. There is such power in linking initiatives across the education system, and we hoped to help harness that power in their instructional transformation work.

Director Ida Kilcullen (foreground) and Chief Lucia Tabelual in an animated discussion

Three days were spent meeting with school teams, building their capacity to consider their needs, and identifying evidence-based practices (EBPs) to strengthen their instruction. Practical examples and resources were provided for school teams to consider. “I learned a lot of strategy during the sessions,” affirmed a participant from Koror Elementary School. School teams had already implemented their first 90-day plans as a result of the reflective process of examining their instructional practices. During the site visit, we assisted the teams in constructing their next 90-day plans—while assuring them that the work with their plans would also fit into other work they are doing such as their WASC accreditation. A participant from Meyuns Elementary School noted, “This session really made me see the connection between all the initiatives that we have been doing in silos all along. Now we do not feel like we are duplicating our efforts.”  

Chief Lucia Tabelual (foreground), Debbie Rebluud (left), and Sarah Sugiyama (right) deep in thought about the connections among the various plans for Palau

Breaking a task into manageable work is not something we only do for our students. Breaking school transformation work into manageable 90-day actions allows educators to see the fruits of their efforts early on and encourages continued commitment to changing everyday instructional practices.

We also spent time building common vocabulary for our instructional transformation work. Language is so important in all walks of life and having a common foundation of terms and processes strengthens school transformation work. 

At the end of the session, participants felt that they were on the same page as illustrated by this quote from a staff person from GB Harris Elementary School: “Today’s session was good and gave me some understanding on how we all work together.”
Taking stock of all the school initiatives to build connections
Dr. Allison Layland (standing) shared several best practice strategies to improve student learning

We were all so excited and energized to embark on the next phase of Palau MOE’s Instructional Transformation project and are grateful for the engagement and dedication of the Palau MOE team. For further information on this project, please contact Eloise Sanchez, Senior Program Specialist in Social-Emotional Learning and Early Learning Programs at Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (sancheze@prel.org or 671.687.5202).


Type: Blog

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