We hope the Challenge Map tool, and the recent survey findings highlighted in the previous sections, can inspire discussion as many schools’ challenges have shifted or been amplified.
Because school districts and regional contexts are unique, Digital Promise has developed a resource to support groups of education stakeholders, including district leaders, parent-teacher organizations, grade-level teams, and others interested in using the Challenge Map to plot and prioritize their own goals and challenges. Below are guidelines and discussion questions to help parents, teachers, students, school and district leaders, and other community members apply a version of Digital Promise’s approach to challenge identification in their own settings.
Tips for Facilitating Discussion
The Challenge Map communicates shared goals and challenges that schools and districts are addressing. By inviting users to attend to specific school or district-related issues, as well as explore how these challenges play out across varying education roles, school levels, and district contexts (suburban, urban, or rural), this tool can empower education stakeholders to consider the challenges in their specific learning communities, and consider how their own experience relates to what other schools are facing. Exploring the Challenge Map as a group provides the opportunity to inform and interrogate situational perspectives and work together to prioritize goals and overcome obstacles.
- Know your community. Are you bringing together teachers, parents, students, administrators, or some other group or combination of groups? Consider their availability and places they feel comfortable gathering (whether in-person or online). Be intentional about inviting community members with multiple perspectives to ensure relevant community goals are prioritized.
- Be clear on the goals, shared values, and assets of your school or district. For example, a goal for your discussion could be to develop a shared understanding of a challenge in your school and a commitment to addressing one root cause of that challenge. Be ready for moments of friction; sometimes a group won’t find quick consensus, but working through tension together is part of any improvement process.
- Remember to document the discussion. Share your recording, transcript, or meeting notes with the broader community to get feedback from members who may not be able to attend or may need more time to reflect and develop their thoughts.
Spend 5-10 minutes exploring the Challenge Map. What do you notice? What questions arise?
- From your perspective, which Challenge Map challenges resonate most/are the greatest priority in your setting? Why did you select these challenges?
- How do different audiences (e.g., students, teachers, families, district leaders) experience these challenges? Be specific.
- What are one to three aspirations or goals that you want to achieve at your school or district?
- From your perspective, what is preventing each goal from being achieved?
- How, if at all, is your school or district currently working toward each goal?
- What opportunities and resources could you tap into to tackle these challenges and achieve your goals?
- How do your priorities compare to those of other schools or districts (as shown on the Challenge Map)?
- What new lessons or insights came out of this discussion?
Planning for Action
After discussing your goals and challenges and identifying priorities for your school or district, you can keep the momentum going by developing a plan of action. A rapid-fire action plan provides the space to quickly brainstorm and identify next steps, including assigning roles, establishing budgets and timelines, and planning inclusive data collection activities. Along with this plan, consider whose voices were left out or not represented in your discussion.
- What else do you need to learn from the school community to move forward to address these challenges?
- How will you actively work to engage community members that are underrepresented or missing from your current discussion?
Share your Learning
Have you used this discussion guide with a group of colleagues or community members? We’d love to stay connected and learn from your experience. Please share your challenges, goals, and reflections on social media using the hashtag #ChallengeMap (don’t forget to tag @DigitalPromise!).
- Problem Tree Analysis
- Consultancy Protocol
- Five Whys for Inquiry of Group Questions
- Goal Setting Protocol