Description of organization:
The York Region District School Board has over 123,000 elementary and secondary school students and employs over 7,500 teachers, 400 administrators, 1,100 plant and maintenance staff and 1,000 professional and para-professionals.

The Board’s mission statement is, in part: “To advance student achievement and well-being through public education”. To meet their commitment to students, the Board recognizes that their staff needs advanced negotiation and conflict resolution skills as well as the ability to have difficult conversations effectively. To that end, starting in 2000, the Board retained the Stitt Feld Handy Group to offer over 30 different workshops for various groups from the Board.

Description of custom training provided by the Stitt Feld Handy Group:
The Stitt Feld Handy Group has designed more than 30 different customized workshops for the Board ranging in length from one to three days. These different workshops were customized for superintendents, trustees, principals, vice-principals, teachers, special education teachers, social workers, psychologists, plant operations, maintenance staff, IT and procurement staff.

For each of the workshops, we worked closely with representatives from the Board’s Centre for Leadership and Learning to identify their learning objectives for the program. We also interviewed participants through on-line questionnaires and over the phone to deepen our understanding of the issues they face in their workplace. With this information, the Stitt Feld Handy Group then designed and delivered the program for the specific target audience.

Some examples of the workshops we have designed for the Board include: multi-day workshops for the senior administrators (principals and vice-principals) that focused on advanced conflict resolution skills for managing the myriad types of conflicts that administrators need to resolve in the course of their work. For the workshops for the procurement office, the focus was on enhancing and refining their negotiation skills to help them achieve better deals on behalf of the Board and to be able to negotiate agreements when conflicts arose on existing contracts. Several workshops on having difficult conversations were designed for special education staff who need to have conversations with other staff, parents and outside service providers about meeting the special education needs of their students.

Feedback from participants:
“The most useful workshop I have attended in 5 years. Practical solutions were excellent. Theoretical knowledge coupled with practical examples – Excellent!”

“I liked the practical value of the workshop in our dealings with parents and other educators. The instructors broke down the subject in a way that was easy to digest and apply in real-life situations.”