How to Keep the Learning Alive

It’s been nearly six months since the 2017 Summer Institute. Are the concepts still fresh in your mind? Is your team’s enthusiasm still at the same level? Maintaining your team’s momentum after Summer Institute can be a challenge. Recently, we asked our AFIT Reps how they keep the learning alive long after Summer Institute has ended. Here are some ideas for you to try…

1. Host a Reunion

“Western Technical College has been grappling with how to keep the Summer Institute learning alive and broadly distributed. Our Organizational Development Manager suggested that we have a reunion. We invited all past Summer Institute participants back together to celebrate our commitment to continuous quality improvement and to reflect on how our participation in past AFIT events is still evident today.”[Since the reunion took place around Halloween,] we provided ‘spooky’ treats and did a fun ice breaker. We also did a brief quiz in which we emphasized how many people were funded to attend Summer Institute over the years, the number of unduplicated attendees, and the number of attendees still working at Western today. We then moved into a table exercise in which we shared our personal learnings from the various Summer Institutes. We ended with a brainstorm about how we can continue to build a culture of continuous improvement at Western. We will use all of this information to help us write our HLC AQIP Systems Portfolio. We had such great engagement, we’ve decided to do this annually.”

2. Plan a Cabinet Retreat

We at Tulsa Community College had a follow-up meeting of our Summer Institute attendees and decided on a few action items to implement some of our learnings. We shared the Pewaukee School District mission video with our President’s Cabinet and are planning a Cabinet retreat to discuss next steps in making our mission more concise and to ensure it permeates our institutional culture. We also have discussed implementing some common employee competencies that reflect our mission and core values, which is something we’ll explore in more depth next year.”

3. Involve the Community

“The concept of ‘the main thing’ resonated with the Richland Community College AFIT Team. Conversation for several years had swirled around our vision and mission, and with a new president, the team decided that we needed to revisit our statements for relevance and connection to our College community.”The Team presented a summary of learning at Fall Convocation, focusing on the pillars of clarity, communication, and consistency. We used the October All-College Meeting, which is open to all employees, to conduct focus group sessions to gather input on where we are and where we want to be; we are also meeting with our Student Government Association today to take them through the same exercises. In order to involve more people not on the team, we have invited a separate group of people to serve as a Data Review Team, helping to identify themes from all the information gathered. Our plan is to take our work to the Board of Trustees at their January retreat and then present the potential statements to the College in February.

“We also have brought in a consultant from Partners in Leadership (PIL) for a workshop involving 32 employees, and we are trying to identify ways to incorporate the PIL culture change strategies into our work. Nothing like building trust and culture at the same time!

“Following Summer Institute and other conferences, the teams that attend from our institution typically get together and decide on at least 2-3 concrete action items we can implement based on what we learned. That, along with assigning responsibility for particular actions, is how we keep the learning alive and turn it into action. The mission work that Dr. JoAnn Sternke from Pewaukee School District talked about was our biggest takeaway from the 2017 Summer Institute.”

4. Download, Debrief, and Share

At Howard Community College we met and reviewed all the handouts and our daily debrief notes we had written while at the Institute. We downloaded all the free TrustEdge materials and our staff development director is incorporating some of those ideas into our leaders’ training programs; the academic leader we brought is championing the use of rounding with the deans; and the team members are trying to create a recommendation on how we can improve cross-silo knowledge here at the college.”Every team we take to Summer Institute documents the ‘highlights’ they identify and we post those on the college portal so that everyone can see the potential great ideas. The team may not have the resources to try every idea right away. However, later on they or others can review and perhaps try another one of the ideas.”

5. Black Hawk College

“Upon our return we focused on our mission. We conducted a survey of our employee community and then facilitated a special Board of Trustees meeting using many of the tips we walked away with from the Institute.”


Does your team have a tradition to help keep the learning alive after Summer Institute? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Email your thoughts and ideas to Erika Liodice.

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