A Step by Step Approach to PICS

Step 1: Develop the Work Plan

The school leader(s) and project lead determine the best way to manage the process and put the key elements in place. Before completing this step, it is important to read through the other steps as well as to review the PICS tool itself. This will give you a clear picture of everything that needs to be done.

In order to develop your plan, you will need to:

Clarify the Purpose

It is important to be clear about what is to be accomplished. The purpose might be described as “improving the inclusivity of our school”. A discussion of what inclusive school culture means in your school might be beneficial.

Once there is agreement about the purpose of the process, it should be written down and communicated to all staff. The description of the purpose should include clear and specific expectations so that everyone knows at the end of the process whether they have been achieved.

Articulate the Principles or Values

Develop principles or values that will guide the process. For example, they might state that the process will:

  • Focus on the present (what is) and future (what can be) versus getting bogged down in the past
  • Provide opportunities for participants to raise, debate, clarify and resolve issues related to the school’s inclusive culture
  • Ensure that the action plan is manageable
  • Be transparent and encourage open and honest dialogue

Determine Who Will Participate

Ideally all school staff and other members of the school community (e.g., students, parents) would participate at some level. A representative group might participate in the more intensive steps of analysis, planning, monitoring and reflecting.

It is important to have as many school community members as possible provide input during the data-gathering step. Diverse feedback will mean the end result is more broadly owned and seen as credible. To facilitate this diversity, schools may use existing forums (such as staff meetings, parent advisory committee meetings, or professional development days) to gather data.

Design the Process and Develop a Work Plan

While the key steps are outlined in this workbook, schools are free to adapt the process to meet their needs. Some considerations are:

  • What is a reasonable time frame for completing the process?
  • Whom will you select as your project lead(s)?
  • Whom will you survey?
  • What strategies will allow the broadest possible representation while recognizing limited resources (e.g., interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, surveys)?
  • If groups are used, how will they be formed and led?
  • Who will invite potential participants?
  • Do you want to offer confidentiality for participants and, if so, how?
  • Should staff members participate during or after school hours? What are the implications for attendance?
  • How will data be tallied and summarized? Who will do it?
  • What is the best way to review the profile, set goals and develop an action plan?
  • What resources are required to complete the process (e.g. release time for staff)? Where will you get the resources?
  • How will you communicate the purpose and results of the process?
  • With whom will you share the data and the results?

Step 2: Gather Data

Create a description of the data gathering process in which the benefits and limitations are defined.

The purposes of data gathering are to:

  • Stimulate discussion and learning about inclusive cultures, and
  • Collect information about current attitudes and practices regarding inclusive school cultures.

A facilitator, usually the project lead, conducts the data gathering process. Some of the best learning about inclusive school cultures will happen as participants reflect upon and discuss diverse perspectives. This dialogue will move the culture of the school toward greater inclusion.

The profiling tool is set up as a questionnaire with eight domains of successful inclusive school cultures. Each domain has a number of indicators with several rate-able items. The facilitator presents each indicator and leads a short discussion of how it is defined and the meaning of each item. Respondents rate each item on a 4-point Likert-like scale and then describe the evidence on which their judgments are based. Following the items for each indicator, respondents complete an additional Likert scale in which they give their opinion about how important it is for the school to focus on that indicator. The questionnaire can be administered with individuals or groups of various sizes and composition.

Essentially, this process combines some of the advantages of questionnaires and interviews, particularly if the respondents are encouraged to express their observations and opinions in the evidence sections. The questionnaire is fairly long. Project lead(s) can maximize the advantages by thoughtfully selecting participants for small or large group processes, and/or for individual interviews.

Step 3: Summarize the Inclusive Culture Profile for your School

The purpose of this step is to compile the information from the data gathering into a summary of results.  If the electronic format of the profiling tool is used, data can be exported to an excel file for processing.  If hard copy (paper) copies of the questionnaires are used, the steps below may be helpful.  In either case, the project lead coordinates this process.

The following procedure is recommended:

  1. Tally responses for each indicator statement by stakeholder groups. For example, in the first indicator statement, how many teachers checked Very Evident, Mostly Evident, Somewhat Evident, Not at All Evident.
  2. Enter results into the hard copy or electronic template.
  3. Transcribe the written comments in the Evidence section for each indicator. If there are many respondents, the project lead should use content analysis to organize the comments into a summary that can be used for discussion. Omit any references to specific individuals and unproductive, negative comments.
  4. Tally the results for the “importance” scale and enter those results into the hard copy of electronic template.
  5. Print the Profile Sheet and graphs with results tallied and summarized.

Step 4: Analyze the Profile

The next step is to review and analyze the profile. This step gives meaning to the raw data. You will be looking for patterns, trends, commonalities or differences among the different stakeholder groups, etc. The analysts consider results for both the indicator statement and importance scales. This analysis can be done in different ways depending upon the size of the school, for example:

  • Review the Profile at a school staff meeting.
  • Bring the information into the school’s regular school planning process by involving the school leadership team.
  • Perform an initial analysis with the Advisory Committee before bringing the results to the whole staff or school community.

Step 5: Identify Goals

The purpose of this step is to identify manageable and specific goals that can enhance the inclusive culture of the school. A facilitated process like PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) might be used to envision the school’s future in a broad sense and help with the setting of short and long-term goals. Goal statements follow from the analysis of the Profile results. Good goal statements are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely (SMART).

It is critical that a broad group of stakeholders (such as: administrators, educators, support staff, students and parents/guardians) develop, prioritize and support the goals.

Step 6: Develop an Action Plan

Action plans articulate how goals will be achieved. The purpose of developing a plan is to increase the likelihood that actions are taken to strengthen the inclusive culture of the school. The plan should be realistic and include: strategies, actions, resources, timelines, assigned responsibilities and a mechanism to evaluate progress.

Schools may choose to integrate this action plan into their school plan.

Step 7: Implement the Action Plan

Schools have processes for implementing school plans and the inclusive school culture action plan should be integrated within those processes. This includes making any mid-course corrections that arise from the discussion in Step 8, below.

Step 8: Reflect, review, celebrate

There are two formal stages to an effective reflection process: formative and summative. The first stage is the ongoing, formative assessment that is built into every effective strategic plan. The project manager, project lead and advisory committee schedule regular reviews, often quarterly or semi-annually, to check progress by asking three questions:

  1. Are we seeing the progress we expected?
  2. If not, have we actually implemented the plan devised? (If the answer is “No,” the project manager must re-energize the school’s commitment to the action plan.)
  3. If we have implemented the plan but are not seeing the expected progress, what changes to the plan are needed?

If the answer to question a) is “Yes, we are seeing the expected progress;” celebrate the success and acknowledge the efforts individuals and groups have made. Recognize effective strategies that can be used in the future. The project lead maintains notes on this reflection to ensure there is an historical scan for future analysis.

The second stage is a summative review and debriefing. The school team commits itself to a thorough evaluation at a predetermined point in time. Consider the following process:

  1. Revisit the Inclusive Culture profile indicators with representation from all stakeholder groups involved in Step 2.
  2. Document key turning points and major decisions in the historical scan.
  3. Debrief key stakeholders with a focus on successes and challenges in the change process.
  4. Document, summarize and discuss the data to identify and record key learning about the formal change process.

The Planning Inclusive Cultures in Schools process can guide the school as future change projects are envisioned. It can also guide the division as similar projects are anticipated in other schools.

The school may share its results with the whole school community and celebrate the outcome of everyone’s efforts.