T.O.A.S.T Not Toast
Does the title of this post have you curious? Do you think we are talking about a favorite part of an all American breakfast? That was our first thought when we heard about Norfolk Public Schools’ intent to implement T.O.A.S.T across the district.
It’s obvious that our early guess was incorrect. T.O.A.S.T. stands for the Theory Of Action Support Team. T.O.A.S.T. represents members of the district leadership team who are committed to aligning resources to serve as a system of support for schools.
Three years ago, when Focused Schools began our work with NPS, we found that district departments (represented as the circles in the visual below) were unintentionally making it challenging for schools (represented as the arrows in the visual below) to manage the competing interests of each department.
The district leaders spent that first year working to define their promise. In other words, they worked to figure out the reason WHY they came to work every day. What they wanted for ALL students across the schools became a question that prompted analysis, conversation, and ultimately, the creation of the district’s first-ever Theory of Action.
So, what does all of this have to do with T.O.A.S.T.? Simply put, T.O.A.S.T. has been created to be the “action” behind the promise. In an effort to align all supports, the T.O.A.S.T. members meet with an individual school to learn from the school leaders:
what’s working in terms of the supports that the district is providing to the school;
what’s not working, that needs immediate attention; and
what does the school want the district to know and support in regards to the improvement efforts at the school site.
T.O.A.S.T. has visited two schools thus far and plans to complete up to 18 more school visits this year. To make sure it is time well spent, the team worked yesterday to create their “next step plans”. These plans will ensure that these visits are purposeful, meaningful, and driven by action steps that lead to RESULTS.