We know results are driven by strategy, structure and execution. Even with the best of structure and strategy, execution is crucial.
When I was an instructional coach at a Title 1 school, we implemented a new literacy program throughout our K-6 school. The goal was to increase student engagement with how words are formed, how to use new vocabulary within the context of reading and how to target specific comprehension needs of our students.
The intent was all teachers in our school would use a set of strategies to accomplish these instructional goals. What I observed was that only some teachers applied the strategies with enthusiasm and fidelity. Some teachers applied it because they were required to, and some disregarded it totally and went on teaching the way they always had. The results that we anticipated with these reading strategies did not happen. Why did we not get the results the research promised?
We did not execute with quality and fidelity in all classrooms.
Our leader focused on research-based initiatives for professional development and made the decision that a continuous improvement process was necessary. The decision was made to choose more training for the faculty and principal. Our literacy team (which included our principal) created a cross section of K-2 and grades 3-6 faculty teams to experience what the strategies looked like, learn the background on why the strategies were effective, and observe high performing classrooms using the strategies. Then, each teacher worked with one of the instructional coaches to create successful implementation within their classroom through a series of modeling and coaching sessions.
Changing the Dialogue
As a result of engaging in a continuous improvement process, our quarterly content meetings changed into a dialogue around sharing what was working, and how to solve problems using the new literacy strategies. We were no longer working in a vacuum from each other and we learned how to execute well.
The function of a principal is to make sure every classroom receives quality instruction for every student within the school. We did this. As a result, we increased our students’ reading scores beyond a year’s growth. Students felt successful and truly enjoyed talking about the books they were reading.
Execution Drives Results
With strategy and structure in place, execution drove the results. Our investment in opportunities for improvement, skill development, and partnering with our teachers paid off. Our students, our teachers and our leaders grew because of this process. We created the means for our literacy team and grade-level teachers to dig deeper into how to help all our students become better readers. Collectively we had a deeper understanding of the strategies and a solid commitment to executing them with fidelity.
Laura Swann, Studer Education℠