By John Williams, Ed.D., CATA State President Elect
IIn June, at the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) annual summer conference, CATA began an organizational SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym that refers to a study undertaken by an organization to identify its internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats. The CATA Governing Board determined that in a post-pandemic environment, an analysis of the organization was needed to chart a path forward. The board concluded that this method of analysis would be objective and utilize the empirical method to gather and analyze member responses to gauge the organization’s status. Dr. Avery Culbertson, Dr. John Williams, and their crew at Fresno State were recruited to help design and implement the analysis. This article, written by John Williams, Ed.D., CATA State President Elect, is an update on the CATA SWOT analysis process and a timeline for moving forward.
In January, the CATA Governing Board met at the FFA Center for the annual winter meeting. One of the items addressed by the board was the need to analyze our organization in a post-pandemic reality. A SWOT analysis was discussed as a potential tool for assessing our organization. We wanted to know what members believe about our organization and how we, as elected leaders, can be a voice of change moving forward. So many times, in these meetings, we hear that some members are uncomfortable talking about issues regarding our organization. We wanted to provide an opportunity for teachers to feel safe and speak freely about their struggles, as well as identify the things our organization does well. Although I was not the person to bring this idea forward, Matt and Shay talked about it, and then we, as a board, discussed and determined that a SWOT was a good place to start to allow an inclusive process for all members.
As we worked through the semester and had multiple meetings before the Summer Conference, I volunteered to help with the SWOT. We invited Dr. Avery Culbertson from Fresno State and her graduate student to write questions for the survey and analyze the data. Once the survey design was completed, it was sent to the CATA Executive Committee for feedback. At the CATA Summer Conference, I explained the SWOT analysis process and timeline. We met in small groups, organized by years of service, to allow an open forum for ideas and opinions. One thing that has been brought forward many times is that teachers with different years of service want an environment where they feel safe to speak about their concerns. This is why groups were formed based on years of service. The data from each group was collected via Google Forms.
At this point, the data has been reviewed and is in the process of being coded to determine common themes. A constant-comparative coding method is being used to take the large amount of data and shrink it down in order to identify themes from the responses. Glaser’s constant-comparative method is incredibly time-consuming. In short, the responses are read, and then they are organized by common statements, thoughts, and wording. Then the data is looked at as a whole to answer the questions presented and re-organized again. This method allows us to see the whole picture regarding strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We, as an organization, want instant results and instant gratification. That’s who we are and how we have pushed ourselves to be better. Be mindful that we are looking at “organizational change,” and this takes time.
Currently, I and others are in the coding process to identify themes from the data. So please be patient, as this takes time to do correctly. Also, keep in mind that I am only a middle person in this, all I am doing is looking at the research and summarizing the findings in an unbiased report to be presented in the future.
Initially, the goal was to have a report by the fall region meetings—to have the CATA state officers and Matt give an update on the process. The full report from all the data analysis will be given at the winter Governing Board meeting. The full report will also be sent by email to all the state’s teachers simultaneously. What exactly does this mean? This is to update all the teachers and put the “ball” into the hands of the organization to make necessary changes. The goal is to allow the information to be disseminated to the teachers at the beginning of the spring semester so that you all have time to read through the findings and come up with ideas to present at your region meetings as well as the Summer Conference. New policies, programs, and “ways of doing things” will need to be addressed, and at the Summer Conference, we can all come together again and move forward with plans to push our organization into further success.
We have heard countless times that teachers feel like changes are made by a select few, but that is not the case in this analysis. This activity was geared to open communication, bring together thoughts, and make plans for the future. It takes time, and we are doing our best to get through the initial stages of the analysis. One thing that will not be included in the report is a “recommendations” section—this is left up to the members of the organization. The thought in doing this analysis is to do objective research and use empirical data to allow our organization to thrive. Every comment or submission will be included in the report, the codes created, and then themes identified from the coding process. This will allow you all to look through the data and come up with ideas to address our organization’s future. I hope this update answers questions and allows for more transparent communication. Please let me or any of the leaders know if you have any questions or concerns. I hope you all have a great semester, and I look forward to seeing many of you as the year continues.