Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Power and Potential of Planning

There are lots of cliche/quotes about planning. Failing to plan is planning to fail comes to mind. Or the planning is more important than the plan. Which, is a quote/cliche I actually like. But, needless to say, the word planning really gets no one excited in the world of education reform. It is, however, an extremely powerful action that would help us bring the "change" in education that we want.

At our school, we try to plan more than the normal school. We have an annual retreat in June where teachers work together to either plan instruction or fine tune the school improvement plan. This summer, I also have spent several powerful days planning with our assistant principal and instructional guides trying to plan leadership retreats, our pre-service week agenda, and our school improvement plan. I still feel like it is not enough. We need time to plan our work together. And we don't seem to have the resources to plan enough.

Our highly progressive, high functioning school system has a June and August leadership retreat where we review goals for the school year and learn new leadership strategies. They are powerful days but nowhere near enough. We need time to work through some of our improvement issues together as a leadership team, but we don't have the time.

One of my summer reads, Quiet Leadership by David Rock, says that "to take any kind of committed action, people need to think things through for themselves."

When we plan together, we can plan learning activities that engage all of the activities in our school so we can think through things for ourselves. We just need to rethink our use of resources to make things like this happen.

If a school continues with the "summer off" method of scheduling, teachers and school leadership teams should have several weeks of planning to make the kind of powerful changes we don't see enough in classroom instruction. During summer time, or some other off time, people have the mental space to think through things for themselves, in order to change.

That does not really happen the way we want it to, because we do the majority of our planning on the fly when we all have a million things going on during the school day or after school.

I don't think change will start occurring until we start to rethink the way we structure adult learning in our schools. Give me the resources to gather teachers for a few weeks every summer.

And I will stop bothering everyone.