Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Road to RAMP: Checking the Rear-View Mirror

This is the sixth in a series of reflections on the RAMP process.

This past week a few members of my school counseling team and I met to do a final review of all of our Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) narratives. We had revised all of the supporting materials prior to the end of school, but left the narrative edits for later due to time constraints as well as wanting to have a bit of distance from the school year to be able to take a little bit more of an objective look.  Well, with those edits the application is almost completely finished.  A colleague is in the process of editing our final section, which will be a video summation/reflection of our program, we will have an outside reviewer take a look, and then it will go before our principal and a school board member prior to final submission in October.  However, the bulk of the work is now complete.

Just like that, four-years of work is represented in twelve folders worth of documents on a server.  Humbling.

I have no idea if we will achieve RAMP status or not--only time will tell.  However, as I think back on the last year, or even four years since we really began this process, regardless of what the outcome is I think this journey has been valuable all unto itself.  As with all things in life, I think it is important to ask the question, "What have I learned?"

  • Give yourself time.  Lots of time:  Program transformation is, I believe, more successful and more likely to weave itself into the fabric of your school if it is done over a period of years versus a period of months.  Additionally, as we were doing the final writings and edits on our RAMP application, we were able to go back and speak to components from a longitudinal perspective.  The Mission statement in our application is actually the third incarnation of our original Mission statement written four years ago.  Not only could we discuss how we developed the current one, but we could speak to how it had evolved from its previous two ancestors.  Further, the lessons, the groups, the goals, etc. are now standard practice for us.  Our "RAMP" year was not the first year we had done most of these components.  This has given us time to figure out how they fit into our particular school culture, work out any "bumps," and has allowed the components to become fixtures of our program.
  • Collaboration is key.  I am so proud of our school counseling team and the work they have done over the last four years to complete this application.  Rome was not built in a day, and neither was RAMP.  If you work on a large team, as I have, you have a variety of people with different backgrounds and strengths.  Some people are probably familiar with the ASCA National Model, some may not be.  Some may be rockstars with technology and data, others may be great at relationship-building and communication.  You owe it to your team to work together to transform your program on the timeline that is best for them, and to do it in such a way that you are utilizing their strengths so that everyone is able to contribute in a way that is comfortable.  You owe it to your team to provide education on aspects of the ASCA Model that they may be unfamiliar with. You owe it to your team to listen to them if it gets to be overwhelming at times.  If your goal is to develop a comprehensive school counseling program, then it is important to make forward progress at the same time your are honoring the team's timeline so that there is buy-in and so that everyone can internalize the process for themselves.  Additionally, to move forward you need the assistance of the other stakeholders in your building--teachers, administrators, parents, and students.  If you have taken the time over the years to build strong relationships with your school community, this will become apparent very quickly as people jump on board to support you in your RAMP application.  I have been so fortunate to get to work with amazing people who have jumped in to give feedback, assist, and cheerlead us through this process.
  • Everything interrelates.  I've alluded to this in previous posts, but I think the greatest intellectual gift for me during this process has been that an additional light-bulb went off in my head somewhere in the middle of the year.  The RAMP application process really allows you to see, in action, just how effective a comprehensive program can be towards increasing student achievement and supporting students and families.  When you set clear, reasonable, and measurable goals grounded in outcome data and then develop lessons, groups, and additional programming to support that targeted intervention, it becomes a machine specifically built to help kids be successful.  One cog links with another cog, and suddenly there is momentum across the board and you are having an impact on the entire system, not just an individual piece here or there.
The end of this road is in sight up ahead, but I think it is important to keep checking in that rear-view mirror to make sure that you are not only moving towards your destination, but that you are also remembering the journey and how you got there.

2 comments:

  1. Great post Darrell! I have been working on the RAMP process for 5 years at my school, it is a long process as you say & takes so much time & effort to make it all work. I am the only counselor in my district so building a model program has been hard & my journey is not over, I don't think it ever will be. Your post helps me realize that it's ok to take 5 or 10 years to build a model program because it's what we learn along the way & how the student are effected that counts. Best wishes for a smooth submission & hopefully a successful RAMP application!

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  2. Thanks, Franciene. Real substantial change can definitely take time, but it sounds like your commitment to the process is strong and I am sure you are making headway! As you continue to build relationships with stakeholders, add components, and demonstrate success, you continue to build momentum until you wake up one day and look around and see just how far you have come!

    Take care!

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