Have colleagues ever disengaged, or expressed that there was so much paperwork, or that they are doing someone else’s work when asked to take action on implementation plans that the school expects as non-negotiable?
These instances of stalled implementation are not because people are averse to hard work. This is a misconception. Often, the issue is communication.
Think about this: when we start conversations around implementation with a long list of things we have to do, what we end up with is…a long list of things to do.
Add to this the potential novelty of the practices that are in the to-do list and what teams suddenly have is a list of things they don’t know how to do. Yet.
Starting with what to do is the biggest mistake a team leader can make toward implementation. By starting with the long list of things we don’t yet know how to do, teams are thrust into a pit. Dark and scary. Not knowing where the footholds are. Not having the knowledge to know how to climb out.
Starting with What is not where we want to begin with implementation.
Action plans for implementation are basically long to-do lists. Rationalised with a set of accreditation standards, they number in the hundreds. When this long to-do list is given to teachers as the What we need to do list, the reaction is similar to the ‘it’s just paperwork’ response to unit planning when the Why has not been fully understood.
Often, starting implementation with What is a sure way of provoking resistance to an implementation action goal because it is essentially presenting already-busy teachers with a long to-do list. If we add the knowledge-action gap to that long to-do list, we have the recipe for resistance and implementation false starts.
To give our program a healthy chance of being enacted and followed through, we need to start with Why.
So what might teams do?
Teams who want to understand why the expectations of a program are significant and meaningful pursuits, might change the ways team members speak about the things we do.
Consider these two statements of the same program objective.
- Statement 1 One or more subject areas are linked in an interdisciplinary unit.
- Statement 2 Students express interdisciplinary connections in their products and performances.
The first statement implies that teachers have to get together and collaborate on a common unit planner for their respective subjects.
The second statement implies that there’s a common unit planner, instruction that is linked between different disciplines, and that this instruction needs to lead a learner to make connections and express connections between the disciplines in visible ways.
The first statement is a technical task. The second statement is an aspiration. It has emotional content, it expresses a Why.
To find the Why of implementation, teams might consider shifting perspective and looking at their program from the outcomes they want to guarantee for their students. Expressing those outcomes in terms of Why actions benefit students, seems to be what jumpstarts action.
Finding the Why of implementation and other essential steps toward creating and realizing action plans that realize program goals are the focus of The 8 Hour Action Plan, a book that’s designed as a practical playlist for busy teams to prioritise implementation, save tons of time and get things done.
The 8 Hour Action Plan is now ready on Amazon, but it will be available on 31 July for a special promo price.