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PreK-12 and Education Evaluation TIG Week: Process Mapping Teachers’ Journey Through a Certification Program by Cathy Malerba and Stacia Long

Hello and Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

We are Cathy Malerba and Stacia Long. Cathy is the Executive Director of Research & Evaluation, and Stacia is a Qualitative Research Scientist with Gibson Consulting Group. Our firm specializes in meeting evaluation and business consulting needs in the K-12 education sector. We are fortunate that every day we get to work with and on behalf of teachers and aspiring teachers!

One of the areas we are most excited about right now are programs that are designed to address local, state, and national teacher shortages, sometimes referred to as teacher pipeline or “grow your own programs.” This post is about a process mapping workshop we conducted with a district that was interested in scaling their internal alternative certification program.

Before we could make any recommendations, our team had to deeply understand the way the program worked for participants, from program awareness, to application, participation, and successful completion of the program. We knew in advance that we wanted to pay close attention to, and map, the steps in the process where there might be barriers that kept provisionally certified teachers from progressing through the program and earning their renewable certificate.

Based on our experience, we would like to share the following Hot Tips for conducting a successful process mapping workshop for any program that serves teachers.

Hot Tips

Think about the steps in the process from the teachers’ perspective, which may be different from the perspective of the program staff. Teachers can’t apply to a program they haven’t heard of, so where in the process do they first learn about the program? Teachers shouldn’t spend time applying for a program only to find out later that they aren’t eligible, or they can’t make the time commitment. Where in the process do they learn about these requirements?

Work through mapping the process, mindful of all the points in the process flow where teachers might be successful or encounter a barrier.  If the objective of the program is to increase the number of successful program completers, program staff need to have a full understanding of all the places along the way where teachers progress could be derailed, so they can consider how to best remove (or at least minimize) these barriers.

These could apply to any process mapping workshop:

Start by creating a first version of the process map so the participants have something to react to, it’s much easier than starting with a blank whiteboard. We based our initial map on what we learned from a document review of program materials.

Identify a small number of participants who are highly knowledgeable about the entire process and who are willing to get into the details with the evaluation team.

Make sure you have at least two facilitators. In our case, one of us managed the conversation and the other took notes and make real time edits to the process map.

Make sure you have enough time to do the work. We gave ourselves 1.5 hours to engage in this process and it was just enough time. Depending on the complexity of your process, you may need even longer.

Rad Resources

We used Miro for our process mapping workshop. It was flexible, easy to use, and easy to share in our virtual workshop.

Later, when we created a simplified version of our process map that highlighted four key phases of the process: pre-application, application, program participation, and post participation, we used Microsoft Visio for easy integration into our report.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting PreK-12 Ed Eval TIG Week with our colleagues in the PreK-12 Educational Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our PreK-12 Ed Eval TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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