Pilots succesful in the Netherlands
Zwolle (NL), 3 September 2018 - In this article a first insight is given in the outcomes of the Dutch pilot of the QUAL4T2 project, which took place from May 2017 till August 2018. Three vocational education teacher teams were involved in the pilot. But when all participants are counted, involved in at least one activity such as respondent to questionnaire, workshop or direct piloting of tools, 169 participants were involved in the Dutch pilot.
Eleven Quality tools have been piloted. After the presentations of the outcomes of the 0-questionnaire being tool 1, teams were aware of their current quality culture and also discussed the changes they would like to see or on what topic they wanted to focus, like feedback and feed forward. All needed to develop a team vision, in line with the one of the organization and the school. Besides this the focus was on the effective development of team year plans (tools theme B) and the plans themselves (tools theme C).
What are the main lessons that were learned during this pilot?
• All of three pilot teams made significant improvements through the pilot period. This is visualized in the final pp-presentations.
• Teachers feel more secure developing the year plan. They feel they understand better how to develop aims and control the number of them.
• All at least make the activities in which the aims are divided SMART.
• Plans are developed together, securing the involvement by all team members. By using open access methods for input gathering, it is much easier to get all members involved, even those with a very small job in the team, not present in meetings.
• All the team members have 2 study hours in the official team budget for reading the complete team year plan. Right after this 2 hour session, the plan is referred to in the team meeting. As a follow up, all members know the aims of the team plan and who does what.
• When starting with the new team plan start with one aim together with all team members. This provides commitment with the plan; everyone can ask assist by all, as all work on the same topic; this can be an aim for 3 months and after the first two months the team has a reason to evaluate and celebrate. After that all are used to
work with the team plan and smaller groups can be responsible for a specific aim or activity, now they now how it works.
• Offer all teachers the opportunity to provide input for the plan. For instance, by placing empty posters on a wall in a team office, providing post-its and invite all team members to pass by any time they like and post their topic for the new year planner.
• Too many aims and idea’s for a year plan? Why not develop a dynamic two year plan. Prioritize you aims and activities to find out what should be done first. (tip: put all on post-its on a board and move them around while you discuss this in the team)
• It may seem less time consuming to write a year plan by yourself, but you may need all year to convince team members that did not work on the plan, that your ideas are good
When highlighting strengths and weaknesses we found the following:
Strengths: The mutual work on the development of a team plan increased. And the number of aims in the year plans lowered, what seems to lead to more realistic plans. It is too early to prove this with results, but in the 1-questionnaires it is visible that teams have more faith in their plan.
Starting the discussion about what the team really wants to reach, helps to focus. Visualizing the wishes and needs on big papers on the wall in team offices was found to be very effective: 1 because all teachers had the option to be involved; 2 because all teachers could provide input on the moment that suited them, as these posters hang in the office for a week. Focusing in categories helped too.
Weaknesses: The pilots show that just sharing tools with participants that are not sure how they could fully use the tools, is not effective. If a team is not really involved because there are other problems in the team, the pilot is not effective enough. A team needs to be able to focus on their culture and the effective team plan development.
Coming up is a training in which one teacher from each pilot team participates. The final tools will be introduced, all good practices will be discussed and participants will be trained to be the project ambassadors in their own schools, to support the long term impact of the project.