I recently posted the 80/20 Rule Applied to School Improvement in the post I urge district and building leaders to put more effort into implementation than writing a school improvement plan. One of my very astute colleagues, Lori Stollar from IU 12, asked me how would we help districts focus on implementation?

“Resting not on my own understanding,” I put it back to you my esteemed school improvement gurus..

  • What would a focus on implementation look like?
  • What specific behaviors, tools, and actions should we bring to the attention of school improvement teams?


Pat said…
Not a guru - but .... I think it takes time to build a culture of excellence. The important part of any plan is that it makes it into the classroom, that teachers are the biggest part of the plan. No only does the vision have to be clear - the means to the end needs to be focuses.
For our team - starting the plan in June with administrative data analysis makes it easier when the teachers return to provide them guidance and focus. Fortunately for us, we had many of our teacher leaders participate in our summer analysis. Until teachers are the focus of the change little "effort" will be focused on students.
So... my best advice is to bubble up, work with teachers. Listen to them. Teach them the data tools. Don't overwhelm them - and our schools will be able to focus on improvement and not "planning".
deburkins said…
Heidi Hayes Jacobs said (of curriculum) that if it's not on the calendar, it's not in the taught curriculum. Part of planning is committing to "when." The same could be said for action plans included in school improvement plans (strategic plans and any other plans for change, too, of course). Part of planning for implementation is to ask "when (and how)" we'll monitor our implementation - who will 'tell' whom about what when? what meeting agenda's will include such discussion? what reports to be compiled for whom (and when)? As a highly qualified procrastinator, I find that I only do things just before I have to tell someone what I've done. Having check-in/mutual accountability moments built in along the way inhibits my own inclination to be completely distracted by the "immediate" press of day-to-day tasks.
Kelly said…
Great ideas all around. I am a highly qualified procrastinator myself (thanks for that new bit of terminology, Don), so how do we embed these moments into a school? I like what Pat said about needing to be clear on vision (that's a blog all on its own), but accountability moments... I don't think we need more paperwork.

Are we thinking checklists, monthly meetings, Other????

How frequently should we get together without overwhelming schools?
deburkins said…
Would that I had a well-worked out response. How about these two simple steps for starters:
(1) If we can, we start by assuring that we charge pre-existing teams with completing (or managing) an action plan. That group already meets - and can and should simply commit to revisiting the action plan and their implementation progress at each (already scheduled) team meeting. No new paper work - just regular focus on the plan and their progress.
(2) If we need a new team, they'll need to commit to a schedule to meet (and need admin support to insure that they have adequate time to meet). Then - see #1 above.
(3) Each team needs to revisit the plan to operationally define the schedule and indicators of implementation - what will we do when, what will we "see" when it's done (ie, how will we know that we did it appropriately). [And only then should the team turn to the question "and what movement in student results will we see after we've done it appropriately, on what measures, when..."

Not new paperwork. It's the commitment to doing something and making the plan for doing so 'real,' concrete, 'visible.' What comes to your minds?
deburkins said…
BTW, I absolutely agree with Pat - it's about improving, not planning. It's not about the Getting Results documents (although we do have to render unto Caesar, as they say). It's about the planful doing of something different (by teachers, alone and together, and even with administrators) with as clear a sense as is possible of what "it" is that we're trying to do differently, and what we think will improve (our 'action theory' embedded in our 'improvement'). If we have that clarity among us, we can test our own ideas, keep doing things that seem to be working and alter the things that seem not to be working.

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