Organize for Success

Schools and districts often have the foundational structures in place to implement whole child support and can leverage existing policies, programs and practices to expand what they already are doing to meet the needs of the whole child. Foundational structures, such as mission and vision statements, school improvement processes and plans, and collaborative teams, set the direction, priorities and programs for the district. Before a school or district determines priority needs for implementing whole child education, it must organize for success, establish and align core beliefs, set up collaborative teams and identify members and responsibilities.

This section guides schools through building a strong foundation to implement a whole child approach in the school. It includes information to help expand upon current foundations in the areas of:   

  1. Assembling or preparing a collaborative team
  2. Connecting to a school's mission and vision
  3. Identifying stakeholders
  4. Establishing meeting norms


Assemble or Prepare a Collaborative Team

Collaborative teams, as part of a continuous improvement process, are essential for the implementation of Ohio’s Whole Child Framework. If a school or district has existing collaborative teams as part of its implementation of a continuous improvement process, then a new team should not be created. The existing team can be prepared to incorporate whole child data and supports into its routine work. If a school or district does not have an existing collaborative team as part of a continuous improvement process, a team should be established to prepare for success.

Role of the Collaborative Team

The role of the collaborative team is to analyze systemic policies, programs and practices to determine needs and priorities to ensure equity, cultural responsiveness and coordination of whole child supports through a continuous improvement process. Teams direct resources to school goals. These resources include people, program materials, time and funding. This collaborative decision-making process includes stakeholder engagement and data analysis to determine the school or district’s priority needs, including the tenets of the Whole Child Framework that will be included in the school or district’s continuous improvement plan.

School and district leaders should provide the collaborative team with an overview of Ohio’s Whole Child Framework and engage in discussions about how the framework connects to current policies, programs and practices. School leaders can determine the right forum for providing this overview, whether during an existing staff meeting or as part of an initial collaborative team meeting. Districts and schools should consider keeping the whole child topics as a standing agenda item at staff and team meetings.

Who Should the Collaborative team include?

The existing collaborative team should include individuals with key positions and support roles and be representative of the students and community. In addition to the already-established teams, the following groups of people may be considered as members or engaged through the process as needed: 

  • Teachers who represent all grade-levels, early childhood, general education, special education, English learners and all subgroups;
  • Students;
  • Families;
  • Non-administrative staff who serve in leadership positions, for example, literacy coach, math coach, after-school coordinator and parent/family liaison;
  • Non-certified staff such as secretaries, custodial and maintenance staff, food services staff and bus drivers;
  • Community partners representing parents and families, local businesses or community organizations, such as a community program that serves children and families who will transition into the elementary building or a Parent Teacher Association representative;
  • Union representation;
  • Other ad hoc members as necessary.

Key stakeholders on the collaborative teams may include teachers who lead teacher-based teams, families representing the diversity of the student body or an administrator from a feeder pattern school. Some members of the collaborative team may vary based on the school or district’s focus tenet(s) and indicators. For example, when analyzing child nutrition or safety, it would be appropriate for someone from the school's food service program to participate. This person may not need to engage around conversations regarding global awareness in the curriculum.

Connect to Mission, Vision and Core Values

Many schools and districts have a mission, vision and core values statement aligned to the school or district’s strategic plan. These statements are clear and concise and convey the purpose and direction of the school and district. These statements communicate to students, families, staff and community members what drives the organization. The mission and vision are holistic and oriented toward students’ growth and future and should depict what a thriving student can look like at school, in a career and in all aspects of life. The statements reflect the values and hopes the community shares for its children. A shared vision of success for students is developed through authentic collaboration among all school community members (including leaders, staff, students, families and caregivers, and community partners), laying the foundation for trust and partnership. The district and school should revisit the mission and vision statements regularly to ensure they include new perspectives, learnings and context from the changing community.

questions to ask

The district and school’s vision, mission and cores values should reflect a whole child approach to education. School leaders, in conjunction with their collaborative teams, should spend time analyzing their existing mission, vision and core values in comparison to the Whole Child Framework and the students in the building. Some questions to ask include:

  • Where do the existing mission, vision and core values reflect the Whole Child Framework tenets?
  • Are the mission, vision and core values culturally responsive to the students and families in the school?
  • Are there unintended disparities created by the existing mission, vision and core values?
  • Are the core values espoused or enacted?
    • Espoused values are what the school says it desires (community, respect or other values). Enacted values are what is valued by the school.
    • How is the school community (staff, students and families) informed of the mission, vision and core values?
    • Is this information provided in languages and locations that are accessible for all students and families?
  • Are these legacy documents or did the current school community participate in their creation?
    • Schools may need to revise legacy documents with the current community of students, teachers, families and community members so they are culturally responsive and equally accessible.
    • What are blind spots or implicit biases of those involved?
  • Is it necessary for the school community to revisit these documents before beginning to assemble the Whole Child Framework team?


Identify Stakeholders and Resources

Not all stakeholders will serve on the school or district collaborative teams. Stakeholders can provide insight when identifying critical areas, help to select evidence-based strategies, design the implementation plan and identify and provide community resources. During the implement and monitor stage of a continuous improvement process, stakeholders may provide unique skill sets that align with implementing the specific tenets and indicators in a school's action plan.

Engaging Diverse Stakeholders

Stakeholders should represent the diversity of the student population. Key stakeholders may include mental health professionals, public health departments, faith-based organizations and other child-serving organizations. Members of the collaborative team may vary based on the school or district’s focus tenet(s) and indicators. For example, when analyzing absences due to chronic health conditions, it would be appropriate for someone from the public health department or other health providers to participate. This person may not need to engage in the implementation of other tenets. However, to meet the needs of the whole child, it is important for key stakeholders to provide insight and share connections to other tenants when addressing critical areas. Stakeholders to consider include the following:

  • Parents and families;
  • District and school-level educators;
  • Government agencies and representatives;
  • Community-based organizations;
  • Research and evaluation experts;
  • Business communities;
  • Elected officials;
  • Physical and behavioral health professionals;
  • Students and youth;
  • Philanthropy groups;
  • Faith-based organizations.

Ohio’s Local Stakeholder Engagement Toolkit can support schools and districts in the local stakeholder engagement process.

Establish Meeting Norms

Team norms are a set of rules or operating principles that shape team members’ interactions. Team norms establish clear, agreed-upon behavior, how the work will get done and what team members can expect of each other. Meeting norms include:

  • Scheduling regular meetings;
  • Once dates and times for the meetings are established, establishing a neutral meeting space, such as a conference room or a local community space;
  • Making sure the location is accessible to all members;
  • Determining meeting norms and a format for taking and archiving notes, action steps and minutes;
  • Preparing and distributing the agenda ahead of time, including a standing agenda item related to the school or district’s whole child work;
  • Preparing and distributing all data ahead of the meeting to inform decisions;
  • Ensuring the correct participants are invited to ensure a well-rounded and productive forum where necessary decisions can be determined;
  • Posting the meeting times on the public school calendar;
  • Before the meetings, sending invitations or emails to make sure everybody has the meetings on their calendars.

Last Modified: 2/16/2022 10:24:40 AM