I had the tremendous opportunity to hear Douglas Reeves present the keynote address at the PDE Special Education Conference at Hershey, PA. Adorned with a bow tie, he was a well spoken, interesting man. Specifically, one of his points resonated with me: There is an implementation gap.
In school districts, we rarely implement initiatives or practices “full tilt.” As educators, we change slowly. We stick to old practices. Mostly, we resist change because we feel frustrated. The targets are always moving. The expectations of a principal, administrator, or state legislator may not be aligned, leading to frustration.
Reeves suggests that we need to continue with an initiative until it is at full implementation. This may take several years. Often, we do not see positive benefits until a system has reached full implementation of a particular practice.
Teachers need specific descriptors and clear targets to implement change. How can that happen? Build rubrics with your staff. Make sure that administrators are instructional leaders and reinforce teachers for making positive changes. Eliminate that which does not work and that which is unnecessary. Essentially, treat teachers with the same care as we treat students each day.
Focus on what is important. Make it lasting. Choose an initiative. Stick with it.
For me, my personal initiative is differentiation. It is my crusade to make sure that classrooms reflect this initiative at full implementation. I plan to draw up specific indicators to make sure that teachers know the expectation. What’s yours?
PS- Check out Doug Reeves' free podcasts here. They're good!