When you see it, you can feel it.

You’re drawn to it.

It’s almost hypnotizing. 

What is it? It’s quality implementation and it’s irresistible. Once you’ve fallen under the spell of quality implementation, it will make you do things you never thought possible!

Quality implementation occurs when you witness the depth and sustainability of an initiative spread and shift from a small team of stakeholders to the entire system. In public education, this experience can be hard to come by. However, just because something may be difficult, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. 

Fortunately, the research team of Jenni Donohoo, Sue Bryan, and Brian Weishare have helped show us the steps we need to reach (ahem) the climax of quality implementation. 

  1. Get your team to understand and participate in an “Impact Cycle.” (e.g., Gather evidence to determine areas of focus –> Plan professional learning based on evidence –> Implement a professional learning plan –> Track progress and outcomes –> Assess impact and next steps –> Repeat.) 
  2. Use clear examples of how to apply the strategies. (How clear?) This clear: “Where do we want to go exactly? Where are we right now? How will we know when we get there?
  3. A “knowledgeable other” in assisting team members understand the implications of the research. There is now research that says working with a professional with proven mastery in the area as a “conduit” to build the research-to-practice gap is an essential step in implementation science.
  4. A supportive organizational environment. Yup. We need a supportive organization. There are plenty of ways to engender support from your organization, most of which require you to leverage influence, patience, and the capacity to build relationships with stakeholders of the organization. 
  5. An authentic recognition of educators as agents of change. All our efforts, plans, and strategies should be focused on assisting the frontlines. Once educators experience success (in any area) they will share expand their own sense of efficacy. (This is the sweet spot.)

  6. Monitoring and adjustment of implementation strategies. Basically, by accepting the “impact cycle” as an ongoing process is critical. Avoid labeling initiatives (there are too many in any given school and any given district to really do it anyway). Help all faculty and staff acknowledge the process. The process is fluid and grows cyclically. 

(Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?)

If you’d like to read more about this topic, we highly recommend the book, “Quality Implementation: Leveraging Collective Efficacy to Make What Works Actually Work” by Jenni Donohoo and Steven Katz (2019).