We would not be successful without superintendent, associate superintendent, curriculum and instruction, principal, and other leadership school district support. A program like this is focused on creating a more inclusive whole child learning platform, which ultimately will lead to curricular and scheduling discussions at all levels.
The premise behind LiiNK is until the social and emotional (SEL) needs of our children are fully recognized and addressed in the schools, and unstructured, outdoor play and character curriculum are two of the tools used to reach those needs, children will not be able to fully recognize, process, and retain content.
In order to have an effective school environment with the LiiNK overlay involved, the most developmentally appropriate essential elements per content area need to be identified prior to launching this program in a school. Some ancillary activities will likely be eliminated because the students will not need as much practice daily as they once needed. Teachers can also be intentional throughout the whole day because the children are able to reboot and refocus after each unstructured, outdoor play break provided throughout the day.
Maximize the Quality of Work
Schools do not have to add more minutes/hours to the day in order to adopt this program. Seven to 7.5 hours daily is all that’s necessary to include the additional recess and character minutes required and maximize the quality of the work throughout the day. Teachers have assessed child classroom focus prior to LiiNK and found that 1.5 to 2 hours daily can be attributed to distractions and lack of focus. The scheduled required minutes daily gives the illusion that children are learning for those exact minutes daily. The reality is that very little learning is occurring for at least 1.5 to 2 hours daily with a traditional school schedule. Two ways the LiiNK program captures quality content learning are: improved focus and cross-curricular learning, as well as the number of minutes a state requires per content area is met through cross-curricular exposure daily.
School District Support
School districts seek to support teachers and students through new and improved content programs regularly. Adopting LiiNK into a school setting can be very challenging in the first two to three years for sure. This program has procedural changes that create much frustration if other programs are rolled out simultaneously with LiiNK. Sensitivity of a school district to recognize that new programs/initiatives asked of other schools in the district may not be beneficial for the LiiNK schools during the first two to three years of implementation needs to be strongly considered.
Continue to Enhance Policy
The LiiNK program requires three full days of training in the spring for administrators and teachers prior to launching the new schedule and procedures the following fall. Throughout the first three years LiiNK is implemented, the use of data and anecdotal evidence are used to drive policy and procedural change discussions with the administrative leadership team. The ultimate goal is for the school district to adopt these policies and procedural changes for not just one or two schools, but to move toward this change in all of the elementary schools.