Partnering Process

Overview of Intermediate School District Partnership

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Alt+Shift collaborates with and supports ISDs to create sustainable change.

Why Use a Partnership Approach?

Creating a sustainable change within a system is difficult. It takes time to change the attitudes, beliefs, and practices of a team. To create lasting change, we often have to reflect on, modify, and/or create new processes.

In an effort to impact students across the state, Alt+Shift engages in multi-year partnerships with ISDs. This collaborative effort aims to strengthen the ISD’s ability to provide training and support within their Local Education Agencies (LEAs).

How do I pursue partnership with Alt+Shift?

Interested sites submit an application to indicate interest in exploring partnership. See ”I’m Ready to Explore Partnership” below.

How Does a Partnership Work?

Four phases of partnership (Prepare, Train, Implement, and Sustain) assist with achieving your team’s long-term goals. ISDs and Alt+Shift work together to turn research into practice and design relevant implementation support.

Key components of the partnership include:

Key components of parntership represented as 4 individual strands of thread intertwining to form a whole ropeView a larger version of this image


  • Explore partnership - Initiate the exploration phase of partnership by completing the application. I’m Ready to Explore Partnership
  • Form the implementation team - ISD administration and/or designees will select team members. The team will include ISD stakeholders, a Director of Special Education and/or Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and LEA/program personnel. In some cases, LEAs or programs may also establish their own implementation team. An Alt+Shift specialist is also part of the team during initial implementation.
  • Select local districts and/or programs to receive training - The ISD identifies at least one partnering local district or program.
  • Co-construct a training schedule and format - ISDs work with Alt+Shift to set the dates, times, format, and content of training sessions.


  • Receive evidence-based training - Alt+Shift provides the initial training.


  • Co-construct a strategic implementation plan and appropriate implementation supports - The plan outlines how the training will be applied and impact educators and learners.
  • Engage in implementation team meetings - The team(s) will meet every 30-45 days to discuss challenges of implementation and review the strategic plan.
  • Explore coaching - Alt+Shift is available to support and/or modify existing coaching systems, as well as help create coaching systems. Alt+Shift is also available to provide coaching for ISD personnel who are leading the implementation effort.


  • Provide ongoing training - ISD leadership will identify personnel who will engage in “Level 2” training. For more information see “What Does Level 2 Training Involve?”
  • Build your network - Alt+Shift provides in-person and virtual opportunities for educators across Michigan to learn from each other.

What are expectations for participation on an implementation team?

The implementation team collaborates to improve and apply the practices taught during the training.

Within the team, each member is an equal partner.

Team members are expected to:

  • Participate in the full initial training.
  • Participate in all team meetings in their entirety. Meetings may be in person or virtual.
  • Ensure that technology and/or classroom coverage is set up to support participation.
  • Respond to requests for feedback by the given date.
  • Contribute individual expertise to meetings.
  • Complete assigned tasks and action items by the given date.

What is the Role of ISD Administrators?

Administrators are essential to creating systems that support implementation.

The ISD Director of Special Education will be part of the partnership exploration process. For Foundations of Math, the ISD Director of Curriculum and Instruction will also be part of this process. If a partnership is established, the ISD director(s) will be on the ISD Implementation Team.

ISD directors attend all:

  • Partnership exploration meetings in their entirety.
  • ISD Implementation Team meetings.
  • Training sessions (if the director cannot attend, he/she designates someone else who is directly connected to the work who can approve resource-allocations, and set priorities for staff).

ISD directors dedicate staff time to:

  • Attend training sessions.
  • Lead the effort within the ISD.
  • Participate in implementation support activities, such as collaborative planning time, group coaching, etc.

Additional expectations:

  • Set a dedicated, standing meeting time for the ISD Implementation Team every 4-6 weeks.
  • Ensure allocation of financial resources to support and sustain the effort.

What Does Level 2 Training Involve?

The development of ISD instructors supports sustainability and growth of the effort.

9 steps for level 2 training and instructor certificationView a larger version of this image. *The components of these steps vary depending on the professional learning opportunity.

What is Level 2 training?

Level 2 training is a training-of-instructors course that:

  • Prepares instructors to present the content.
  • Provides opportunities to insert examples, interaction, practice, and reflection into the training sessions.

What steps are involved in Level 2 training and instructor certification?

  1. Complete the original training course.
  2. Secure administrative approval to engage in instructor training.
  3. Secure Alt+Shift approval for instructor training.
  4. Sign instructor agreement.
  5. Complete course instructor training.
  6. Co-present the course with Alt+Shift staff
  7. Secure Alt+Shift approval to be an instructor.
  8. Present the course at least once every other year.
  9. Attend virtual update meetings.

Why require Level 2 training for ISD partnership sites?

Having a team of instructors who are able to provide ongoing training and support helps to build sustainable implementation.

How many days is Level 2 training?

This varies depending on the professional learning opportunity. The time commitment ranges from 3 to 7 days which are spread out over months. It may include hours beyond the normal work day. Meetings may be virtual, in person, or a combination. Meetings may be full days, half days, or a combination.

How many instructors should ISDs have trained?

Alt+Shift recommends an initial team of 2-4 people. Sites are encouraged to add additional instructors each year to keep the cohort at that level. Instructors become unavailable for a variety of reasons (change of job, change of availability, retirement, move out of district, etc.). Recruiting instructors each year helps ensure that instructors will be available.

Why is Level 2 training such a long process?

Changing one's own instructional practices takes time. The Level 2 process offers instructors the time and opportunity to reflect, practice, and engage in continuous learning with a peer group.

What are characteristics of strong instructor candidates?

  • Strong positive beliefs about learners’ ability to learn and achieve.
  • Understand how improving one's own approach to instruction can positively impact learners.
  • Leadership skills that result in positive changes for students and adults.
  • Comfort level with public speaking.
  • Strong understanding and application of the training content.
  • Willingness to be vulnerable and learn side-by-side with other adults.

I'm Ready to Explore Partnership

Alt+Shift has created a five step process (Apply, Clarify, Onboard, Prepare, and Partner) to move forward with partnership.

5 interconnected steps for working with Alt+Shift

The Partnership Exploration Process is designed to:

  • Provide clarification on what the partnership will require of each party.
  • Assist ISDs and Alt+Shift in determining the readiness of the ISD to engage in partnership.

Read the information below and then follow the link to apply.

  1. Apply - The ISD Director of Special Education and/or Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and applicable ISD/LEA personnel complete the application.
  2. Clarify - ISD leadership and Alt+Shift personnel will meet to discuss site readiness and clarify expectations for the partnership. Questions from both parties will be available prior to the meeting. Preview Alt+Shift’s follow-up questions.
  3. Onboard - The implementation team will meet with Alt+Shift to discuss the roles, expectations, and goals of the partnership.
  4. Prepare - ISD personnel will engage in any readiness activities that are needed before training begins.
  5. Partner - The ISD team and Alt+Shift begin training, coaching, and meeting.

Interested sites should:

  • Examine their capacity to take on a long-term implementation effort.
  • Consider the local districts or programs with whom you will work.
  • Share the information about partnership and the professional learning opportunity with key stakeholders.
  • Contact Alt+Shift with any questions.
  • Submit the application.

Applications are accepted through March 12, 2021. After that date, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and may go to a wait list.

Notify Me When Applications Open

What Others are Saying

We asked partnership sites to share their experience related to the training.

AT Journey logo One of the greatest aspects of this format is it allows for ongoing professional development you apply throughout the year. The journey has allowed us to have deep, meaningful conversations related to the provision of assistive technology (AT) and the process.  At the end of this experience, we will have a sound foundation for the AT process that will have a lasting impact on our students. Another key aspect of the training has been the development and conversation related to leadership. It has connected staff who would not otherwise have the opportunity to connect with one another.

ISD Implementation Team Member - AT Journey

PODD logoBeing an implementation site has helped by supporting us through the technical aspects of implementation, and also through the more difficult aspects of adaptive coaching skills by leaning on implementation science.  Coaching each other regionally, receiving coaching with Alt+Shift’s guidance, and working with other teams has helped to craft mission statements, vision statements, and goals for our organization

ISD Implementation Team Member - PODD Training

Foundations of Math Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities LogoDuring the first year, it was important to have someone who is experienced available to talk with us, discuss challenges, and to model instructional practices. The support has been very helpful. It’s uncommon (in schools) to get regular support and regular face-to-face communication and contact. This was especially helpful.

Local Implementation Team member - Foundations of Math: SD

Additional Information


Do you have questions about partnering with us that were not answered on this page? Send them to us!