Bookmarked Stop Wasting Your Time on School Improvement Plans That Don’t Work. Try This Instead (Opinion) by Peter DeWitt (Education Week)

Some of this seems complicated, right? Problems of practice, theories of action, assumptions, success criteria, and program logic models all seem like a lot of work. However, what is more work is when leaders create a document in isolation that they never intend to use and never engage in conversations with teacher leaders about areas of focus they could work on together.

Peter DeWitt discusses the importance of a theory of action to guide the development of an improvement plan. In addition to a ‘theory of learning’, DeWitt suggests that it is important that plans are also practical.

When working on a school improvement plan, or what some schools may refer to as an academic plan, itโ€™s important for its creators to make sure that it is useful. How do we do that? We do that by:

  • Making sure that we do not have too many priorities;
  • Taking time to reflect on how many actions and activities we should engage in;
  • Including teachers and staff in the discussion and not just creating the document in isolation;
  • Not storing them away only to look at next year when we have to create our next school improvement plan; and
  • Making the document workable and based on our needs.

I wonder about the user of the How Might We question to frame this theory?

After this we returned to our original groups and worked through the โ€˜How Might Weโ€™ task. This involves completing a prompt: how might we ACTION WHAT for WHOM in order to CHANGE SOMETHING. The purpose of this was to come up with a clearer guide for our moonshot.

It also has me thinking about the IOI Processย in providing a structure to not only understand the intricacies of context, but help map out a path to change and innovation.

Bookmarked It’s Time to Give Feedback Another Chance. Here Are 3 Ways to Get It Right (Opinion) by Peter DeWitt (Education Week)

If we are to show our school communities, and the rest of the world for that matter, that our schools are more than child care during the day and that school leaders and teachers engage in learning that is equally as powerful as the learning students are supposed to engage in, then we have to understand what feedback is all about and how it can be impactful.

Peter DeWitt shares three ways to get feedback right, including:

Respecting that feedback is a process, not a one-sided message
Closing the gap between desired and current performance
Appreciating the impact of feedback on self-regulated learning

Feedback is powerful, but also problematic. For me, what DeWitt highlights is the power and importance of creating the right conditions.

In a separate celebration, Tom Sherrington reflects upon twenty years since the publication of Working Inside The Black Box.

Bookmarked Is De-Implementation the Best Way to Build Back Better? (PETER DEWITT, ED.D)

We can no longer pile more and more on the plates of educators and need to take a seriously look, and then engage in actionable steps, to de-implement those initiatives that no longer work and waste our time.

Peter DeWitt reflects on the impact of the current crisis on education. He explains that it has put more stress on the well-being of teachers as well as students. Therefore, to build back better, we need to ‘de-implement’:

De-implementation is a graduated continuum of individual, team, and organizational change that require different strategies in terms of learning and unlearning. Learning refers to the process of acquiring new skills or knowledge. Unlearning is a process of discarding outdated mental models to make room for alternative models.

This reminds me of Tom Barrett’s discussion of innovation compression.

How might we fully appreciate the resources needed to introduce these new ideas and what they overlap with? How can we create space for people to make the most of this idea and for it to have the impact we want? Which programmes or existing innovations might be discarded to release energy and resources?

I wonder if in not taking something off the plate, we instead risk a shock to the system that will require so much more effort to turnaround.

Bookmarked What Should Leadership Development Look Like? by Peter DeWitt (

With increasing demands comes increasing gaps in learning. It is too easy to ignore issues where we do not feel confident. In fact, Bandura found, “When faced with obstacles, setbacks, and failures, those who doubt their capabilities slacken their efforts, give up, or settle for mediocre solutions. Those who have a strong belief in the capabilities redouble their effort to master the challenge.” We need to find a different way to help prepare leaders, those with the degree and those without, for the changing face of education and help support their lack of confidence (self-efficacy) in a way that will turn it from a weakness to a strength.

In the transition from a focus on management to instructional leadership, Peter DeWitt discusses some of the gaps and challenges faced by modern leaders. These include the lack of preparation, challenge of equity and a pathway to leadership via discipline, rather than learning. DeWitt suggests the professional development associated with leadership needs to be a blend of research and practice.
Replied to 3 Reasons I Do Not Engage in Twitter Debates by Peter DeWitt (Education Week)

There are three reasons why I do not get into debates on social media. So, if you’re looking to get into one with me, please feel free to read this blog over and over again to get an understanding of why I won’t debate with you. Those three reasons I don’t debate are:

They’re rarely about common understandingโ€”Debates on social media are rarely about finding common ground, and I always prefer to get into situations where we can learn from one another and move on with a better understanding. Many people trying to debate us are really looking to win. That’s never a good beginning to a beautiful friendship.

They make you look really crazy to onlookersโ€”When we are in the battle, we feel like we are making tactical moves and Tweeting or posting really impressively smart comments. In our heads, we feel like J.K Rowling with her stunning comebacks. In reality, we look crazy, and it’s just not worth it.

I’m not good at themโ€”I’m the first to admit I’m a reflective guy. I’m not a debate-club graduate, because I need time (and lots of it) to gather my thoughts, look at the research, and process my answers. Debates on social media rarely encourage that type of thinking. I’d much prefer to have someone post a comment on the blog that I can respond to.

This is an interesting reflection Peter. It captures some of the divide within EduTwitter. Although it can be a space to connect and shares, something Ian Guest captured through his research. It can also be quite toxic, a point that Stewart Riddle unpacks.

In some ways, this reminds me of a post I wrote a few years ago on ‘ideals‘:

Although it is important to dream and dream big, at some point our efforts need to turn to finding pragmatic solutions for the now. They need to be ideas and initiatives that respond to the problem at hand. Instead of calling for a revolution, our attention should be on how we can evolve education one change at a time.

My concern is that we decide who or what is our tribe then chastise those who do not agree. It feels like this is what happened recently with Greg Miller.

What I liked about your post is your comparison with blogging and Twitter. Personally, I find it a different experience to collect my thoughts on my own site (like this post), rather than just jump straight into Twitter. Although I can link this post to yours and webmentions will bring your responses back, I believe it is in the comments that a deeper discussion can be had. I find myself being much more reflective in not only taking the time to craft out my comment with various links, but I also feel more ownership and awareness of what I write and say.

In the end, we may not agree with each other on every matter, but we need spaces to carve out knowledge and understanding together. I think that this is the challenge of the #ProSocialWeb movement.

Replied to When Schools Say ‘All Means All,’ What Do They Really Mean? (Education Week)

In order for students to be academically engaged, they have to feel an emotional connection to school. If they aren’t able to fully be who they are, how can they ever feel an emotional connection to their school? The following are some ways you can help:

  • Acknowledge that LGBTQ students exist in your school. There are times that leaders tell me they don’t have any gay kids in their schools. I have told them that I’m not great with statistics, but it’s statistically impossible to not have gay kids in your school.
  • Create Policies to protect them from being bullied. However, policies are not as good as the paper they are written on if leaders and teachers do not enforce them.
  • Provide Inclusive curriculum, books, and novels. I lost my dad when I was in 5th grade. My teachers never read books that were set in a one-parent household. I often felt like I was on the outside looking in. Many LGBTQ students feel the same way. Unfortunately,ย many librarians are asked to secretly banย books so they never make it to the shelves in a library.
  • Offer Images such as safe-space stickers so all students know they have a refuge to go to. Safe-space stickers are not just for LGBTQ students. They offer a beacon of light for any student who doesn’t feel safe.
  • Use terms like LGBT or LGBTQ so they actually feel as though you careโ€”language is everything. I understand it’s a bit of an alphabet soup sometimes, so focus on one that all adults can use.

If we say All Means All, shouldn’t we mean it?

This is a great message Peter and some really useful points to reflect upon. It is interesting to think of it alongside Joanna Morehead’s discussion of boys and masculinity in schools. It makes me think that not only do we have to be mindful of the students we have in the classroom, but also the citizens we have a role in creating.
Liked Do Leaders Really Need to Be Content Experts? by Peter DeWitt (Education Week)

First and foremost, instructional leadership really comes down to four driving forces. Those four areas are content knowledge, instructional strategies, student engagement, and collective efficacy (DeWitt. 2019).

Bookmarked Are You Blithely Unaware of How Educational Research Impacts You? by Peter DeWitt (Education Week – Peter DeWitt's Finding Common Ground)

There are teachers and leaders who believe that researchers have little to do with their classroom practice, but the reality is that what researchers do has a direct effect on everything that happens in the classroom. We may think that we work in silent protest to research but the reality is that it all trickles down into our little casual corner called our classrooms and schools. And we should stop being blithely unaware of it all.

Peter DeWitt reflects on the place of research within education. He makes a comparison with the Devil Wears Prada and the way we assume fashion changes and trends. I find this interesting as both fashion and research are often outside of the reach people and pedagogues. This is epitomised by the story of Aaron Swartz who died campaigning against research hidden by paywalls. Is it possible for all educators to feasibly have access to research or is this another example of have’s or have not’s.