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Synergy Transition Consulting

Shelley A.W. Roy

389 15th St. N
Sartell, MN 56377
Mobile: 320-309-9133
Phone: 320-259-6048
Fax: 320-259-9190

Synergy Transition Consulting
Creating Dynamic Balance Through Change
Pathways to ~ A Connected System (PACS)

What is PACS?

PACS is a professional development series which is designed to create and foster school communities which are achieving, caring, and safe. For over 10 years, we have helped school communities throughout the United States, Canada, from the Arctic Circle to Australia, and Indonesia to Cheknyia, successfully utilize these ideas and strategies to raise test score, create caring cultures, and reduce violence.

Throughout the series we use Perceptual Control Theory* as a theoretical underpinning to help educators understand how to interact with students in ways that facilitate students’ internal motivation. As one teacher from Iowa stated:

“Perceptual Control Theory is the glue that holds together many strategies that I have used for a long time but did not understand how or why they were supposed to work. Now I do! (Anita Vanous, Cedar Falls).

What are the goals of PACS?

To improve the relationship of the entire school community; violence prevention, anti-bullying, better family and school communications.
To improve the academic success of the students; raise test scores, increase attendance and enhance academic performance.
To develop discipline-within students; decrease discipline referrals, reduce harassment and increase individual accountability for actions.

What results can you expect?

In schools where PACS has been implemented as an ongoing professional development program with implementation support we see discipline referrals decrease by approximately 40% during the first three years of implementation, and academic performance increases by approximately 20%.

We help participants utilize the theory as an underpinning to all interactions within the school community; staff to staff, staff with students, student to student and extending to the home and the community.

Is this practical?

We tie theory to practice in what we call “3 x 3 x 3’s”

3- Areas; achievement, caring and safety
3- Levels; individual, group and organization
3- Principles; of PCT:
  • We can only control our ourselves
  • We are internally motivated
  • All living systems seek to maintain dynamic balance
We teach how understanding Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) builds capacity to learn within each and every learner and create learning organization. Understanding PCT shifts the way you look at those you want to change, the change process and our role as change-agents. This new view of behavior requires discipline within, self-knowledge and an ability to self-evaluate. All applications taught throughout these seminars are proven interventions that help people help themselves.

What makes PACS different?

During the last 15 years staff development in school districts has been fragmented, unconnected, and often a top down, one size fits all affair. Our approach in Pathways to A Connected System is to begin with the individual. We build upon effective practical experiences of teachers, administrators, and other staff asking them to review these best practices in terms of Perceptual Control Theory. We employ the basic principles of PCT to connect practices in the areas of achievement, caring and safety. Finally we are committed to the entire school community learning these ideas to affect and increase the involvement between school and home; building capacity within the entire comunity.

What does PCT confirm?
Caring: Make the connection

Teachers, who teach well, naturally connect with students. They know that the way to teach or reach students is from the inside-out. That is, students want to connect with adults, and adults who work with youth know that those youth who change do so because of a relationship with an adult. This is where we start: make and maintain the connections with youth. Make the connection!

Achieving: Bump it up

One elementary school in a district where we have worked for over ten years has as part of their school belief statement “Reaching Higher”. Their goal is for every student to learn to their greatest potential. Standardized testing and district assessment indicate that students are improving their academic performance. We want students to make profound improvement. We lead staff members by modeling how to be a learning organization. We show teachers how to bump it up, i.e. to shift their thinking and teaching toward values and principles while using the interests and activities of the student, their lessons in school and their life beyond school. We model for teachers so they can model for their students “How can we be the best we can be?”

Safety through Discipline Within: Ask, don’t tell

Schools want each and every child to be safe physically and, in order to do so students first need to be safe emotionally. For psychologically safe schools to exist the entire school community must shift from coercive discipline to connected discipline, or what we call Discipline Within. In a nutshell, this is accomplished through teachers maintaining their connection with students, self-evaluating (Am I being the kind of teacher I want to be?) and following this simple, direct principle: Ask, don’t tell!

We present the following principles:
Make the connection
Ask, don’t tell
Bump it up
Seek the reference
Shift the reference
Affect error: reduce or amplify
Follow awareness
Maintain the connection:

through references
through roles
through learning
through safety
The above principles guide the practical classroom applications we teach. Opportunity to practice these hands-on applications and interventions are provided throughout every component of the series. We coach teachers on how to ‘frontload’ or design classroom lessons and learning to prevent discipline incidents. We believe it is critical to: customize implementation, to work directly with students in classrooms, and to provide opportunities for one-to-one assistance.

What have past participant said?

Past participants have stated that learning through PACS has helped them:

  • Increase their effectiveness as an instructional leader.
  • Manage their own feelings when in conflict with other colleagues or students.
  • Ask questions to lead students to self-evaluate their behaviors
  • Deal more effectively with the most difficult people in their lives, both personally and professionally.
  • Manage themselves when dealing with angry, frustrated or hysterical individuals
  • Become a leader of character
  • Develop specific skills for resolving conflict
  • Become more accepting, less critical of self and others
  • Build internal strength to deal with change and crisis
  • Balance their life by learning and teaching the life balancing skill of self-evaluation
  • For more information on Perceptual Control Theory see training for Applied Control Theory (ACT 1,2,3) or read an excerpt from our book A Connected School, the chapter on Perceptual Control Theory.
An overview session of 2 ½ hours can be provided as well as single day sessions.

PACS was designed to be a progressive course consisting of two four day trainings, two 30 hour practicums (15 hours of which are face to face) and a four day certification celebration distributed over 18 months. The first two days can be delivered in isolation, as can many of the components. However, to gain long term effective change in behavior the full course is recommended. This course is excellent when aligned with other professional development programs. Remember custom designed training is my specialty.