Saturday, December 22, 2018

Resolutions don't work. Do this instead.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.
Every year, we'd sit in a room and set goals as a faculty.

"We're going to get 90% of our kids to the "Meets Standard" level!

"We're going to get 20% more 4s in writing!"

"We're going to have 94% of our kids reading on level by the end of the year!" 

And then?

Everybody went back to class and did the same thing they did the year before.

Some tried out new strategies, some did independent research and figured out a new approach, and some hit the xerox button and duplicated the last ten years of their careers.

Goals without plans are really just wishes.

We talk a lot about what happens if we don't meet our goals, because it's commonly understood that we often don't meet our goals.

We say we'd like to accomplish something, and then if we get even anywhere near the ballpark, we can pat ourselves on the back and say we gave it the old college try.

But that's not how education changes.

If you're a coach, and you're ready to make a change, here's how you do it in three (ok, maybe four) easy steps (and it doesn't involve a resolution).

1. Make a decision.
2. Make a plan.
3. Do it.

That's it.

You use these three steps to help yourself make a change happen, and you can also use them to facilitate a grade level or a vertical team in making a change happen.
Here are the details.
1. Make a decision.

Decisions are actions. They're things like, "I'm going to meet with two guided reading groups every single day." This might be in the same vein as the goal of "95% of my students will reach grade level by the end of the year," but it's an action.  

Actions either happen or they don't, and you can check in on an action. Every day and every week are opportunities to see whether the action happened or not.

2. Make a plan.

So there are obviously reasons why teachers aren't currently taking that action. Maybe classroom management is getting in the way. Maybe there's too much whole-group instruction. Maybe teachers aren't prepared with lessons every day. Maybe they don't know enough about the strategy or method to implement it.

If teachers think that wanting to have two guided reading groups a day is enough, they're setting themselves up for failure. Instead, figure out what needs to change in order for that to happen. Do you need to create a schedule together? That's part of the plan. Do you need to reteach management strategies? That's part of the plan. Do you need to model a lesson with their kids? That's part of the plan. Figure out when things happen and what will happen. Dates are important because that's how you get action.

3. Do it. 
This one is easier said than done, but once you have a plan, you're ready to carry it out.

For coaches, I'm going to add another little step that's really really really important.

4. Check in.

Take a copy of your plan and check in with teachers. Are they doing what they said they would? If not, what can you do to support them in the plan that they created?

To help you get started, I've included a handy dandy planning freebie below! It includes some great tip for coaches to help you facilitate something better than setting goals with teachers! It'll give you a place to start when you're communicating with teachers (or even yourself) about how things will be different in the new year.

Because wishing things would change doesn't change a thing.

If you're a coach who's facilitating teachers in setting goals and making plans, I've got the perfect guide for you. And it's FREE! You can sign up to get it in your inbox below.

It's got tips for coaches and a step-by-step guide to getting teachers to create a plan (and to carry out the plan, too).  Check it out!
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