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Successfully Launching a New CTE Program: 10 tips to get you started

by MAlutto 9. September 2013 05:35

As educators, we spend considerable time developing new programs for our schools. We debate the appropriate direction for our school, we consider the options for curriculum, and spend countless hours trying to figure out how to structurally support the new program in a building designed for an older educational model. In the midst of all of that work, it’s easy to forget simple strategies for taking a new program from good to great; from being a program that impacts a few students to a program that all students want to be enrolled in. Here are a few tips for you to consider when launching a new CTE program:

1. Engage your entire faculty, the district, and the community at large

The speed at which educators move throughout each school day, week, and year is truly admirable; however, often times this limits our ability to effectively communicate with our colleagues. All too often, information about new programs isn’t shared across a given school, let alone throughout the district and the community. Engage your audience! This is the first step to launching any successful program. Get out there and talk to the people…

2. Advocate locally

Recognizing that the most effective educational advocacy happens locally is pivotal for success. Any decision made within a school is primarily based on local politics. Let your voice be heard by local politicians. Engage them in the decision making process – don’t just inform them after the fact. This will improve buy-in and long-term sustainability. Make sure that they are invested in your success…

3. Partnerships, Partnerships, Partnerships

Recruit partners from local industry, post-secondary education and community agencies. These groups are invested in your same cause – college and career readiness for all! Use the relationships you already have to begin growing your network of support. After all, it isn’t what you know, it’s who…

4. Recognize that this new program is only one piece of a very large puzzle

Policy makers and the general public do not understand education the way that we do. The needs of this new program may fall behind larger initiatives or district/city-wide priorities. Be sensitive to these needs and shifting priorities…

5. Patience is a virtue

 All new programs take 3-5 years before you start to see a true ROI. Stay the course…

6. Don’t reinvent the wheel

You are not the first person to ever take on the implementation of a new program –you aren’t even the first person to do it at your school. Talk to other educational leaders in your building, district, and in other communities. Tap into online resources, national advocacy groups, and support networks. People are out there with experiences to share, you just have to find them…

7. Data, Data, Data

We no longer live in a world where schools can afford to make decisions which are not based in relevant, up-to-date research. You may know why you have decided to guide your school in a given direction, but be ready to share these reasons, with numbers to back them up. Have this information available in varied formats for an array of audiences, ranging from statisticians to crossing guards. All community members have a right to understand their school…

8. Make new Friends 

Getting to know your local politicians doesn’t end by simply standing up at a school board meeting. Learn about their personal interests and hobbies. This will help you know how best to pitch them your goals and ideas in the future. It may even get them to open their contacts to you in support of your cause…

9. Plan a Star-Studded Event  

The best way to draw attention to your new program is to plan an official launch event. In coordination with central office, develop an overall communications plan and determine messaging. Invite the mayor, the superintendent, other school administrators, local politicians, industry professionals, local colleges, and community organizations. And don’t forget parents and the press! Both groups are the fastest spreaders of bad news, be sure to populate their arsenal with something positive for a change...

10. It’s Never Too Late

 If you are reading this blog and realize you have done none of these things yet – don’t fret! There is still plenty of time to get everyone up to speed and on board. Give a presentation at the next faculty gathering and get on the agenda for the next BOE and town council meetings. Lastly, but most importantly, plan a launch event. Just be sure to contact the director of communications from your district’s office to align messaging and send out communication efficiently…

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