Shift Principles in Action: Hybrid Advising Co-op Convening
Recently, our team – Ryan, Kyle, Shay, Kara, Theresa, and Georgette – held an in-person convening to launch the Hybrid Advising Co-op. This project’s goal is to increase the percentage of high school students positioned furthest from opportunity (defined as Pell-Eligible or first-generation Black and Latinx) who matriculate to post-secondary educational and career options. Hybrid Advising refers to augmenting high school advisors or counselors supports with artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots to reach more students and/or work with students in greater depth. The convening brought together partners from OneGoal, KIPP, Let’s Get Ready, College Advising Corps, Bottom Line, and Mainstay, all who have experience and models for hybrid advising with students.
After two years of having to hold convenings for other projects virtually (or not at all), our team was enthusiastic to be back in person building connections with our partners. In the spirit of living our principles, we want to share how our experience and our partners helped us learn and adapt as a team and as facilitators. Our team had four key objectives for the convening, and as we worked to achieve them, we learned a lot that could potentially be beneficial to others as folks make their own re-entries into in-person events!
Key Objective #1: Develop a collective identity and purpose, centered on equity.
We wanted teams to leave with a deeper connection to the community and purpose of the project. This required designing the convening experience with the diverse and unique needs of learners at the center, not as an afterthought. This meant considering activities where both in-person and virtual participants had access to full participation. We incorporated whole group discussions, small working groups, gallery walks, and creating physical and digital artifacts to archive learning to offer our teams more clarity and a deeper understanding of the "why" behind our work as a co-op.
All teams prepared a brief presentation to introduce their team members, detail how they use AI chatbot technology in their advising processes, and share their goals for participating in the co-op. We noticed while listening, participants nodding, smiling, and pulling out their phones to capture information. One participant noted: “I feel so much clearer on the experience and the gifts people in this group bring.” This is the beauty of sharing and learning—one idea can lead to tremendous change.
Key Objective #2: Identify and develop a team-specific project focus.
We had teams craft an aim specific to their context and outline the change ideas they will test through PDSA cycles within their hybrid advising models. Teams created detailed plans on chart paper outlining the change ideas that they wanted to test along with a better understanding of the structures they would need to put in place to test these ideas. To cultivate shared learning, we had teams share their plans with each other for feedback.
Those in the audience were so generous with their knowledge, tips, and advice. Presenters were transparent and honest when answering questions. “I appreciate the willingness of my peers to move quickly past ‘looking good’ to authentically sharing questions, worries, hopes and ideas that work,” commented one participant on how their team adapted throughout the convening. Seeing how open teams were to learning and sharing highlighted why collaboration is so important for this work to succeed.
Key Objective #3: Design a plan for tracking, collecting, and sharing data.
To build an “all teach, all learn” culture among our community of improvers, we had teams design a plan to share data for learning, not judgment. These plans included which data points they were currently tracking, and how to understand supports needed to track common data points across the Hybrid Advising Co-Op. These also included measures that were used to judge if the specific changes that they planned were improvements and important milestones towards long-term goals.
Seeing teams collaborate seamlessly, we adapted our roles as facilitators. We reminded ourselves, “don't give people things, give people each other.” There are different kinds of knowledge and expertise to be shared from a variety of people. Facilitators can lead by minimizing the space they take up and maximizing opportunities for participants to work and talk with each other. We often convince ourselves that folks need to hear something, and it can be hard to interrupt that line of thinking. We learned to sit back so others could lean in.
Key Objective #4: Establish roles and responsibilities for co-op engagement.
By establishing roles and responsibilities, teams were better prepared for future collaborative structures, set up for co-op operations, and ready to start testing and sharing learning. Participants agreed to take on responsibilities such as regular meeting structures, contributing to our shared knowledge base, running PDSA cycles, clearing barriers, and problem-solving.
Seeing how these improvement processes are embedded to enhance the work being done is critical for sustainability.
Taking and sharing responsibility felt familiar to our teams. There was enough experience with hybrid advising and AI chatbot technology to provide common purpose and language when deciding on roles. Given the unique contexts of each team, there was enough variability to challenge our teams and reimagine how hybrid advising can effectively support a diverse group of student backgrounds, contexts, and needs achieve their educational and career goals.
We were so lucky to gather with this group of people. We boosted opportunities for learning and sharing. The success of the convening depended on the willingness of the group to engage, be vulnerable and curious, and learn from one another. This group consistently modeled openness! Everyone had something to contribute because everyone had something to learn.