The order makes a difference, for words and for school improvement
“The dog bit the boy. The boy bit the dog. Same words. Different order. Different meaning. Different impact. Especially for the dog!”
In the early 2000’s nearly all school leaders with whom we worked had loaded up a van-load of teachers and/or administrators and made a pilgrimage to Sanger, CA to tour the school district that had been identified as a true “turn around” district. If the school leaders had not actually visited Sanger, they had seen presentations by Sanger’s administrators to learn exactly what the district had done that allowed students to make such tremendous gains. Graduate students in schools of education and county offices of education used Sanger as a case study, as a model of how to improve systems for student achievement.
Marc Johnson, the Superintendent of Sanger at the time, led the turnaround. Mr. Johnson was recognized for his leadership by being named the National Superintendent of the Year in 2011 by American Association of School Administrators. If you have an opportunity to hear him speak, or read case studies about what the district did to improve you will learn he led the district through the implementation of three initiatives that made all difference.
The three initiatives that became the focus of the district were Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), Response to Intervention (RTI), and effective first instruction.
The initiatives were implemented at all schools in the district in that order, PLCs, then RTI, and finally effective first instruction.
When discussing the district’s accomplishments, Mr. Johnson details the importance of all three initiatives. By implementing the three initiatives, the district staff was able to create systems of improvement for every child in the district.
When asked if he would do anything differently, Mr. Johnson says the three initiatives that district chose to be its focus, PLC’s, RTI, and effective instruction were the keys to student improvement. This was just as the literature on school improvement promised.
Although he said he would not change the selection of the initiatives, he did say he would change the order in which they were implemented. How would he change the order?
Mr. Johnson said he would start with instruction.
Effective first instruction that provides a shared instructional framework for all teachers makes PLC’s function more efficiently and effectively. A shared instructional framework provides focus and coordination for various interventions.
What initiatives do you have planned for 2016-2017? As you visit classrooms monitoring implementation of your newest initiatives, ask yourself, “How much more powerful would these initiatives be if all first instruction was as effective as it could be?”
The dog bit the student? The student bit the dog. Same words but big difference in impact for the student.
Click Contact Us to learn how we can help your staff teach any student anything through more effective first instruction.