How Hundred Day Plans Sustain a Culture of Continuous Improvement
You’re feeling good – you have created demand for modeling your school as a PLC and have structures in place to answer the key questions. You are making progress along the PLC journey… Well, you think you are. Or perhaps your PLC is stagnant; you are not seeing progress or you are not sure about how to measure it. Or maybe your school is just beginning the PLC journey and you are questioning how to monitor the first stages, especially since small wins are essential in the beginning to sustain the momentum. Or perhaps you’re wrestling with when and how to lay out the next steps of your school’s improvement work and are trying to determine how it fits into the larger school improvement plan.
Regardless of which scenario describes your school, it is essential to have a process to monitor your PLC improvement, or lack thereof. Well-crafted, short-cycle improvement plans keep schools focused and moving in the right direction. As I work with schools at all levels, in my own district and abroad, I advocate for a relatively simple, collaborative process for creating and sustaining a PLC culture of continuous improvement – Hundred Day Plans. Clear and transparent Hundred Day Plans play a significant role in creating and sustaining a culture of continuous improvement in schools.
A well-crafted Hundred Day Plan carefully describes changes that will occur in adult practice and dialogue during the upcoming school year. These plans identify a school’s Greatest Area of Need, create a Theory of Action, define specific S.M.A.R.T. Goals, generate agreed-upon Action Plans and a Communication Plan; all expressed in specific increments of time throughout the year. By design, well-written Hundred Day Plans outline the specific expectations for faculty and administrative staff and monitor progress by examining artifacts at designated checkpoints during the first 100 days of the school year.
Hundred Day Plans provide an effective and efficient time frame for school improvement. As the authors pointed out in an earlier article entitled More Than Wishful Thinking, Using Hundred Day Plans to Achieve School Goals (TEPSA, September/October 2012), “It takes about one hundred days for the impact of your actions to become clear… These short cycle [Hundred Day] plans describe the desired outcomes, identify the necessary resources and assign key responsibilities over a specified period of time.” The typical 100-day cycle begins in August and concludes around the beginning of February, right before many schools and districts engage in state and national assessments. This specific, targeted time frame provides an authentic benchmark to evaluate the success of the current school improvement plan.
Many schools are seeing significant progress in creating a shared culture of continuous PLC improvement by implementing Hundred Day Plans. It is essential to involve the faculty from the start when creating these powerful plans since Hundred Day Plans should motivate teachers to take action. Engaging the faculty in the process of reviewing data, identifying the greatest areas of need, and articulating improvement goals is critical to generating a sense of ownership.
“Without involvement there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, and underline it. No involvement, no commitment.” - Steven Covey
Questions asked while developing Hundred Day Plans may include such things as, “Can the faculty and staff effectively articulate and communicate the key areas of focus as identified by our school improvement plan?” and “Do we know these areas of need and the corresponding action steps they must take at the beginning of the school year?” Everything is deliberate and the plan allows us to ensure a high level of conscious and purposeful intentionality.
Engaging teachers in the process of crafting Hundred Day Plans helps sustain school improvement efforts throughout the year. As schools reach day 100, teachers and administrators celebrate progress, communicate with stakeholders, and return with “boorish redundancy” to the essential concepts and processes that drive school improvement efforts.
Many, T., and Cohan, D. Staying the Course – 100 Day Plans Sustain a Culture of Continuous Improvement. TEPSA News, Vol. 74 (8) March/April, 2017.
Many, Thomas. More Than Wishful Thinking: Using Hundred Day Plans to Achieve School Goals. TEPSA News, Vol. 69 (5) September/October, 2012.