Woodson Coalition Essay
Part 1: Group Development
The genesis and growth of a group always goes through five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. Forming is always the first stage, where the group members meet for the first time and roles as well as structure and purpose are not firmly established. This stage closes when the individuals label themselves as a group. Appropriately named, the storming stage is defined by intragroup conflict in the areas of limited autonomy and leadership, and is a critical in group development. The resolution of this stage comes with a visible leader along with rankings of group members. After the dust has settled, the norming stage begins with development of cohesiveness, close relationships, and ends when organization of the group solidifies into expected roles and behaviors.
Actual group function starts in the performing stage where the group is wholly accepted and can begin working toward the task that was assigned. Adjourning is when the task is completed, and the group disbands. This group is currently in the forming and storming stage, as members have not yet been selected into the development team, and already there are strong opinions about what needs to be done to solve the problems of truancy, low student performance and crime, as well as how to create an after school program effectively with the support of three different organizations.
Part 2: Problem Identification
The primary problem that is causing much strife in this case is disagreement between the three organizations level of involvement, power over decision making, and outcomes of the after-school program. The school district wants the after-school program to be in line with existing school board procedures, any new jobs formed to be unionized, and to have the same level of input and power as Woodson. The Woodson Foundation wants to use “hard data to measure performance” which is something that the school district disagrees with. The NCPIE wants parents to have an increased level of control to direct how education should be administered to their children while enjoying diversity. The three organizations must come to an understanding on the issues presented first before commencing on creating the after-school program.
The secondary problem encountered in this case is the diversity among the students and parents, school officials, NCPIE officials, and Woodson officials. We see that diversity is a very important part in forming the coalition, as the student population is a mix of African American, Caucasians and Hispanics. While the NCPIE is representative of students in Washington, D.C., the Woodson Foundation is located in Virginia and is composed of mainly Caucasian professionals. There are cultural, demographic, racial, ethnic, and location concerns that need to be taken into consideration when forming an effective team.
Part 3: Retrospective Evaluation
Although the differences in the ways and means vary among the organizations, there are shared common goals – meeting the needs of the students which consists primarily of learning, and engaging the parents participation in the school system. These goals should be at the forefront of every major decision while asking “Does this decision help the students?” Leaders of this coalition need to be selected from a pool of candidates. The best way to equally represent all the organizations and their influence in the process is to choose a candidate from each organization. Criteria for these leaders should include situation-specific experience, openness to input, a high emotional intelligence since this is about creating a new program and transforming three organizations into one. Diversity within the team members can be of value with a variety of opinions and creativity. But diversity can also cause a rift between members if the storming part of group formation becomes unmanageable.
The group should have cohesiveness which can be helped along by forming a small group, encourage agreement with group goals, and increase time spent together. A solution to the diversity problem as well as the conflict of interest problem would be to select appropriate individuals to make up the coalition. Team members that would be most effective in the coalition are Candace Sharpe representing NCPIE, Meredith Watson from the Woodson Foundation, and Victoria Adams the superintendent of schools in Washington, D.C. Each of these ladies showed a concern for the children involved, but also are realistic in what can be achieved by their own organization, and by the other two organizations. Candace wants the parents to “step it up… lead the way” when discussing involvement with child development in schools, but is new to the area.
Meredith can use her previous teaching experience to help with modifying existing unnecessary jobs or convoluted processes, but thinks there should be more focus on the families. Victoria wants to have the support of all three organizations and wants to give the parents a voice in the matter of their children, but wants the schools to have more power. While none of the mentioned individuals are perfect, they are more level-headed than the other candidates who finger-pointed and did not offer any constructive ideas. Selecting these individuals would help with diversity in work experience and location identity, and bringing in new ideas to help with creating the after-school problem.
Part 4: Reflection
Managing diversity issues must be done regularly, as new families are moving in and out of the area which causes the population and make-up of communities to change. Holding public forums or town-hall meetings every quarter of the year would allow the public to ask questions and present problem situations that the school, Woodson foundation, and the NCPIE must prioritize and address accordingly. This will create trust between all three organizations and an environment that is conducive to assisting students’ needs and increase learning.