From Disaster to Success: Our Strategy Implementation Guide Design Story
When campus and district leadership started the journey on the strategy implementation guide (SIG) process, we saw the big picture. We knew it would help us guide our teams and provide specific feedback with a common vocabulary. We had all read the book Amplify Your Impact and knew the why, but the how plagued us! We had a huge group of at least 50 people from all over the district ranging from campus administrators to classroom teachers. We split into groups by campus to work on each anchor statement. That was probably the easiest part of the process. We then gathered into an elementary group.
Here lies the beginning of the struggle: a room full of passionate experts trying to narrow down each descriptor for each anchor statement. We decided each team would read their Proficient statement aloud to share their group thinking. After the first statement was read, a member in the group said, “That’s really good. Let’s take consensus of who feels we should just go with that?” A few raised a 5, but a large group of us raised a fist. We were not satisfied and wanted more discussion. Let the conflict begin. We began to have in-depth conversations over the word “isolated.” As we moved to Gold standard, the conversations were heated over the word “interdependent.” The next few days continued with long debates over how to best word each dimension. By the end of the leadership academy, we were drained. Our brains were done! But now the hardest part started--campus commitment.
We took it back to our campus and reintroduced the why of the PLC process. We explained our goal of working to become a Model PLC school by truly implementing all components of building our PLC. Our teachers were not excited at first about a new document, but after our first team reflection using the SIG, they realized its importance. Teams began using the language in the SIG. Some teams were more competitive than others and were truly committed to being Gold! Teams wanted to do more to ensure high levels of learning for all.
As a campus, we focused on two anchor statements at a time to really drive discussion. As teams reflected, multiple members were at varying levels of proficiency. A few members saw the team at Gold while some were at Below! We knew we needed to break this down even further. We realized in our discussion we weren’t quite Developing, but we weren’t quite in Proficient status yet. We dove into the SIG statement one to really ensure our agendas were where we needed them. We used the coaching stance with one team, but we took a consultant stand with teams that were further behind to drive them to Proficient and help them understand why it was important. Teams really began to dig deeper and try harder!
Focus leads to growth
As we continued our focus through the statements, we found additional gaps in our own knowledge. One gap was the Depths of Knowledge (DOK). Several teams were concerned over the addition of using the DOK. We had not provided or received adequate training to enforce this piece. We were fortunate that during our discussions and reflections, a teacher spoke up about her experience with DOK in college. She immediately began talking to her team about it. We began to reference the DOK Wheel in every collaborative meeting and working to better understand how to incorporate it.
Not only did our teachers find areas where they could grow, but our leadership team did as well. We realized we needed more clarity in our processes for enrichment to be proficient. We were fairly strong at interventions, but a more systematic process for enrichment schoolwide was necessary.
The document was truly driving the culture and mind shift we were looking for! We were using it to really help conversations with teams, school leadership, and district leadership. It gave us an intentional focus for where we needed to go with a common vocabulary to drive the PLC work!
Many, T., Maffoni, M., Sparks, S., & Thomas, T. (2018). Amplify your impact: Coaching collaborative teams in PLCS at work. Solution Tree Press.