“We really think with each other as far as using WhyTry… We’re trying to determine what works best.” -Cindy Weber, Comprehensive Student Support Provider
Cindy Weber returned from her Level 1 WhyTry Training just over a year ago excited to begin implementing the program with the middle school students she works with on a daily basis. The training gave her the foundation for getting started, but she attributes the program’s growing success to a group of six other women – comprehensive support providers from other middle schools – who formed a professional learning community following the training.
“We meet every other week, sometimes every week, on Wednesday morning for about three hours, depending on our agenda,” she said. “We really think with each other as far as using WhyTry, sharing activities, what’s working and isn’t working… We’re trying to determine what works best.”
Recently the women were asked to take on one elementary school each on top of their middle school caseload, and having the group already in place has been a big help.
“We started doing what we could with WhyTry as an elementary program, and it’s gone really well. Banding together has helped us know how we’re each covering the posters, how much time we spend on each one. We break it down. And depending on the group of kids, we’re finding we can cover one poster in three sessions for one group while the next one might take six.”
Cindy is a Comprehensive Student Support Provider for the highest risk elementary and middle school students at Fontana Middle School and Primrose Elementary in Fontana, California. Students are pulled from an elective or PE class once a week with 6-8 other students to learn the principles of WhyTry under Cindy’s direction. Currently, Cindy’s caseload totals 104 students.
Thanks to many of the ideas exchanged in her PLC, Cindy has watched WhyTry transform the lives of several of her students. “Kids have turned it around from straight Fs to Cs,” she said. “Some of them had huge truancy issues, and have gone from 40 days last year to 10. That’s huge. Some kids last year had major suspension issues and this year maybe had one. We look for any steps that are in the right direction.” Cindy said that her students love the learning activities that are a key component of the program, and she’s getting better every day at keeping her students focused and involved. “As we continue with it we become better,” she said. “It’s only going to get better with using.”
Cindy said starting a PLC in your school or district is simply a matter of forming a team and making it happen. District buy-in is also key, she said, but that increases as people at the district level start to see results. “We produce an agenda and keep minutes every time we meet, and we’ve told our district bosses that they’re welcome to come in any of our meetings. We’re just being translucent. We’re a team.” Further evidence of the PLC’s success has been the pre and post tests they’ve created together to assess the program’s effectiveness with their students. “Some people like doing their own thing, but if I don’t have to reinvent the wheel I don’t want to. Plus I like sharing it with others.”
If you’re finding it difficult to form your own professional learning community in your school or district, take advantage of the WhyTry PLC available in a WhyTry Online Curriculum subscription.
If you have similar stories about how WhyTry has benefited your school or organization, contact us or leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.