Posts Tagged ‘advisory’

Positive Pressure and Support: Driving Your Initiative to a High Level of Implementation

June 14, 2012

Ok. It’s no secret.

Just having professional development doesn’t mean that your initiative is going to get implemented or implemented well. It doesn’t mean that your initiative will have it’s desired effect on your school.

Sure. PD is critical to getting where you’re going. But it isn’t sufficient.

Level of implementation matters.

A lot.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get better at implementing your laptops, or you’re using Bright Futures to look at your middle level practice, or if you’re working on a literacy initiative, or implementing the Common Core, or on Customized Learning, if you want your initiative to have the impact you’re looking for, then you need to insure that you have a high level of implementation with a high level of fidelity.

So, how do you get to a high level of implementation with a high level of fidelity?

The answer is possitive pressure and support.

Positive pressure and support has three easy pieces: expect, supervise, & support.

Expecting includes strategies like starting simple, participating yourself in trainings and meetings, having teachers set goals, and collaboratively setting expectations.

Supervising includes checking with teachers, talking about implementation at meetings, doing walk throughs, and talking about the walk through and level of implementation data.

Finally, support includes things like celebrating successes, facilitating the sharing of ideas, providing opportunities for PD (of course!), providing resources, and removing barriers and running interference.


How could positive pressure and support help your work at your school?



August 5, 2011

Gus doesn’t give up–he obviously has a highly developed sense of perseverance! Helping our students to persevere in the face of obstacles and frustration is a worthy academic and personal goal. One approach to increasing student capacity for perseverance is to incorporate small group problem-solving challenges in the curriculum.  Advisory is certainly an appropriate time, however this type of activity works well in academic classes as well.

Here’s a suggestion–don’t make the group challenges competitive and a one time event.  Instead, keep the small groups together over time and make the goal to improve their personal team “best” each time they attempt the challenge.  The “best” might be time or height or complexity. By competing against themselves, the students are less apt to give up and say, “We don’t have a chance against them!”

Also, by changing the conditions of the challenge, the team will  develop flexible thinking as well as perseverance.  Changes can be simple–no talking, have to use only one hand, some members of the group blindfolded, or use different materials, etc.

So… what might this strategy look like over time?  Watch the following video on the marshmallow challenge to see the basic structure:

Here’s an example of ways to change the challenge to keep the students’ interest and to help them persevere at problem solving:

  • Trial # 1: Basic challenge as described in the video
  • Trial # 2: No change, ask students to use what they learned the first time to make a taller structure than they did the first time
  • Trial # 3: Change the materials–instead of string and tape, give them 15 mini-marshmallows with the goal to build a taller tower
  • Trial # 4: Add a rule that they can’t talk while challenging them to build even a better tower

It’s important that after each trial to  have students  reflect in their small groups on their process for meeting the challenge:

  • What did the group do that enabled you to be successful?
  • What behaviors were not helpful?
  • What do you want to remember to do next time?
  • What behaviors or action that you used in this challenge might transfer to your classwork when you feel frustrated and don’t know what to do next?

Here are some sources of other physical problem-solving challenges that could be used:

Helping students develop perseverance is a lifetime skill that will serve them well.  We need to provide non-threatening opportunities for students to practice this habit of mind.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. 

Albert Einstein

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