Leading large-scale school change is a challenge. These kinds of initiatives are often complex and include numerous parts and components. Further, the initiative often includes practices educators, the folks responsible for implementing the initiative, have never experienced themselves as learners. Such initiatives often seem overwhelming to teachers!
While I was with Auburn schools, one lesson we learned from working with other districts further along implementing Customized Learning (proficiency-based learning) than we were was “not all at once!” Although there are many components to this school reform effort, following a certain sequence seemed to lead to successful implementation more often than other processes or approaches.
We teased out those lessons about sequence into phases for implementing Customized Learning and started applying them to plans for training and supporting teachers, as well as plans for implementing a statewide requirement for a proficiency-based diploma.
Seeing the practical benefits of breaking our proficiency-based learning work into phases led us to also consider our work around learning through technology within a 1to1 environment, and we created phases for implementing technology for learning, as well.
Although there is flexibility in how districts implement each phase, or even in how they might break an implementation into phases, there seems to be real, practical advantages to thinking of a complex initiative in phases. Each phase focuses on building the capacity of teachers to implement the key components of a complex initiative, but by making the transition manageable by breaking it down into doable steps.
The Power of Breaking an Initiative into Phases (as viewed from the example of Proficiency-Based Learning)
- Why we need to consider not doing this all at once
- How the Phases inform structural changes
- How the Phases help support implementation and teachers
The Phases – Customized Learning
- Overview of the Phases of Implementation – Customized Learning
- The Implementation Chart (Customized Learning – PDF)
The Phases – Technology for Learning
- Phases for implementing Learning Through Technology
- The Implementation Chart (Tech for Learning – PDF)