During early December, the Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) had a number of planning meetings with staff from the Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL); the first was regarding the state education agency’s (SEA) Grow Your Own (GYO) priority. During the meeting, strategies to be implemented during key events, including a meeting of the Mississippi GYO taskforce and the second major GYO convening set to take place in Indiana during mid-December, were discussed. On December 13 and 14, a team of Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and SECC staff participated in the GYO convening in Indiana. During the first week of December, SECC also met with the MS Talent for Turnaround Leadership Academy (T4TLA) lead to discuss progress pertinent to the T4T and mentoring and induction (M&I) work underway. One key component of the meeting was the review of evaluations from the first of two MDE December professional development (PD) sessions on classroom management that had been requested during the third national T4TLA convening. Participants were satisfied with the December 1 offerings. Another meeting of the SECC project staff and a staff member from OTL took place in early December and addressed T4T, M&I, and diverse learner ready teacher (DLRT) progress and the coordination of other SECC-MDE projects that involved the coordination of OTL and MDE offices and divisions. Coordination of technical assistance (TA) support linked to English learners (ELs) and office representation on the team were among the concerns noted. The project team clarified the roles team members would play and agreed to adjust the milestones and project team makeup to rectify concerns. Work to adjust the milestones is underway.
Additionally, during mid-December, SECC and the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) participated in the DLRT National Collaborators meeting. During the meeting, updates were shared and additional information provided to be passed on to the MS DLRT team. On the following day, SECC participated in the MS DLRT team meeting and shared the updates from the national meeting. The new REL Southeast DLRT partner participated in the call and was eager to share her support in her areas of focus—historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and culturally responsive practices (CRP). In addition to receiving and sharing national and local updates, the DLRT team celebrated its $4M+ Kellogg Human Capital Highways Grant award and the number of teacher residents and performance-based fellows the grant would support. The team also brainstormed ideas for continuing implementation of the DLRT statewide plan. Some of the ideas included a statewide convening on diversifying the educator pipeline; the development of a council to design the CRP statewide trainings; and the participation of Gloria Ladson Billings at the July 9, 2019, MS Elevate Teacher Conference. The DLRT lead and SECC staff agreed to schedule a December 19 follow-up meeting to flesh out the brainstormed ideas.
During January, the T4TLA/M&I team will convene face-to-face in the SECC Metairie office. Three purposes to be achieved by this meeting are to see the demonstration of a new data tool developed by GTL, to continue to monitor progress of plans developed during the third national convening, and to assess the status of the M&I pilot. Also, in January, SECC will meet with MDE staff to flesh out ideas brainstormed during the December MS DLRT team meeting and to continue the work of coordinating and aligning the work of OTL and other MDE offices and divisions.
As evidence of impact, the following items represent MDE’s work via DLRT initiative to diversify the educator workforce in the state and to ensure that all teachers become more culturally competent in their efforts to meet the needs of all learners: Proposed Teacher Licensure Pathways Pilot Studies; $4M+ Kellogg grant award and related work undertaken; development of the MS GYO Taskforce, taskforce convenings, and recommendations. Below are items that offer documentation of the strides MDE has made in the areas of talent management and M&I: Outcomes of Mississippi T4TLA/M&I work featured in December 2018 national T4T newsletter; Mississippi T4TLA coordination, development, and facilitation of two December 2018 local PD sessions on classroom management. It should be noted that these PD sessions were requested for new and continuing educators during the third national T4T convening. Notably, MDE has responded promptly to the urgent need identified by the T4TLA districts.