Laurel Peltier, CES Curriculum and Instructional Specialist in Special Education, has been part of the team leading the Special Education Team Leader Institute (SETLI) since this Massachusetts state-wide program began in 2016. Now, for the second year, she has turned her training focus south to Connecticut as well as continuing the Massachusetts program.
Funded by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Massachusetts training prioritizes MA educators. When Laurel was approached by an educator from Connecticut with interest in the training, she contacted the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE). She shared information about the work of the SETLI program that the Collaborative for Education Services (CES) was doing in Massachusetts in support of IEP Team Leaders, and how this work is designed to strengthen collaboration and compliance with the IEP Team Meeting process.
Bryan Klimkiewicz, the State Director of Special Education in Connecticut visited one of the SETLI group face-to-face sessions led by Peltier and colleague Sharon Jones, and became excited about the idea of training IEP team leaders in Connecticut. Of particular interest was the way educators were engaged in interactive learning, collaboration, and the development of a job-alike community of practice across the state.
When asked what has been the most rewarding thing about the work in Connecticut, Peltier said, “There is a true, collaborative team of people who are designing and delivering this institute. There is active involvement of people from the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Connecticut State Education Resource Center (SERC), and the Regional Education Service Center Alliance (RESC) as we invite guest speakers and panelists, create content modules, and partner to lead activities. While we often have perspectives and ideas that differ, the opportunity to collaborate has really helped me to be open and flexible about the model of this training and, I believe, has resulted in stronger professional learning for participants in both CT and MA.”
Peltier continued, “What’s really amazing about the people who lead IEP teams in CT is that most of them are not full-time IEP team leaders. They actually have other jobs, such as teaching students, delivering related services, acting as building administrators (principals / assistant principals) or overseeing departments,” In Massachusetts, many people who lead IEP teams are Educational Team Leaders (ETLs) and this is all that they do, so the focus of their work and skill development is on becoming a strong facilitator of meetings with adults. In Connecticut, people are responsible for this role as only a part of their job; yet, they are very invested in collaborating with families and with one another, engaging in systems level change to improve the IEP team process, and building their community of practice across districts.”
In addition to the 120 participants in the four cohorts set to begin in Connecticut during summer 2020, Peltier will also be leading a Training of Trainers (ToT series). “The ToT is designed to allow leaders from SDE, SERC and the RESC Alliance to take over facilitation of PPTLI with a hope of expanding the opportunities for educators to build their skills with leading both remote and face-to-face IEP team meetings. I’m hopeful that this ToT will result in more opportunities for collaboration and improvement of the PPTLI approach.”