New post on Challenges to the PSLP program -

Updated Blog - Challenges

Check out the blog post on the NJ DOE Webinar for the pilot schools -- Updated Blog - Webinar

The following was originally published August 18, 2009 at
Well, there are days when I think "This isn't so complicated. It will be a breeze for the students, teachers, everyone involved."

Then, on days like today (especially when I just come back from a week at a workshop and several days vacation), I think "Why did I think being part of this pilot program was a good idea?" "As a new supervisor, what was I thinking by taking on this pilot program? I am still trying to get to know my job and this school????"

After a few deep breaths, more coffee, a cookie or three I think I'm okay.

A few things that had me in a panic:

  • Information trail (as I'll call it):
Part of the process that is vital is getting the information out to the students and parents. We decided to do this by printing a brochure and creating a wiki. We want to make sure that students and parents are comfortable with this process and don't panic when they hear Personalized Student Learning Plan. Because, really, many of the students and parents have a rough idea of a plan and/or goals already in their heads. The PSLP is just a way to record those goals so they can be more easily visualized and actualized.

Brochure - just a basic overview of the program with the URL address for the wiki to give to parents and students. I thought it would be easy (it's just copying, right?), but it became more involved and expensive than I originally thought.

Wiki - more updated information for the parents and students. We may not need this once we get our student guidance system up and running because it looks as if we can put a lot of information on our customized page. More on that later!

Presentations - A presentation to freshmen and parents and staff and when is the best time to do this (at Freshmen Orientation or Back-to-School Night); a brief presentation to our BOE in September to explain this program and direct them to this blog and the wiki for further information.
  • People in the project:
As part of the Information Trail, I have to remember who else is involved in the decision making processes of this project, or at least who has to be "in the know." This sometimes has me in a panic because being a new supervisor/administrator I forget there are other people who need to be involved in the decision making process. I can't just wish for something to happen and it happens. The Action Plan is great for planning and implementation because I can't keep all the goals for this project and the people involved in those goals in my brain or written in the tiny calendar squares of my day planner. A secretary or a personal assistant would really be helpful! In lieu of that - action plan and lots of post-it notes and memo paper!
  • Student Guidance System:
One of the components that had me in a panic was the student guidance system we are in the process of choosing. I needed to get more clarification on the customization aspect of the system and why there was such a huge cost difference from what we were originally quoted. After about 45 minutes on the phone, I understand the difference in services and prices. Phew!

I think a system like Naviance or Kuder is a good idea because it can be tied to a school's current guidance system, but also personlized for each student w/a journal component and/or electronic portfolio (e-folio or e-portfolio) component. We want the students to journal about their activities, in and out of school, jobs, interests etc... to help them with college and career choices and resume writing. Sometimes students are part of activities outside of school that they don't think can be put on a resume or college application because it is not "school related." When I was a teacher and taught students resume writing, many of my students asked if babysitting counted as a job. They didn't think babysitting a younger sibling or a cousin counted, but when we discussed how it demonstrated responsibilty etc..., skills necessary in the job market, then they realized babysitting could be included on a resume.

Despite feeling overwhelmed at times, I think I have a handle on this program. Once it moves beyond the planning stages and the students are involved, I'll have a better idea as to where the program is headed. A bulletin board right in front of my desk, a lot of thumb tacks, the Action Plan and a large calendar definitely help!
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