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Plan Less, Do More

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Hello, my name is David Wells. Also known as principalwells on Twitter and on my blog at This is my presentation for the K12 online conference for 2010 I've been an educator for 20 years with the last ten plus years as a principal. Right now I am the principal of a PK-8 grade school in Westford, Vermont in the United States. All the way through my career as an educator, I've been bringing technology to students because I know it can engage them in their learning and engage them in the world. I remember it starting with one computer in the '80s and a whole series of DOS machines in my last years in the classroom. But now I am in charge of of a whole school. How do I make sure that all of my students have access to technology. How do I make sure my teachers can help students engage in learning with this technology and engage as global citizens I titled this presentation Plan Less, Do More because bringing real change to your school is more about engaging with your students and and engaging with your teachers and less about just making plans You need to cultivate change in your school through authentic learning and doing because that's where change happens and that's where authentic learning happens. My own thoughts on the ideas of planning less and doing more have been informed by Michael Fullan's work in Motion Leadership. Fullan quotes Peters and Wasserman and uses the phrase Ready, Fire, Aim Now that at first seems a little bit backwards because Aim is at the end but it doesn't mean that you are heading out with no plan at all Hence the ready. Ready, Fire, Aim talks about connecting your work to kids. But it reminds us, as Doug Reeves says, "The size and prettiness of the plan is inversely related to the quality of action and the impact on student learning." This means having a plan is good but action is learning not planning. As a school leader, I am well aware of the many plans that we make for ourselves for the school year. But I like to work from one plan, not many. In Vermont we work from school action plans. And those have evolved over the years so that the action plan incorporates our yearly goals And I make sure that it incorporates technology Because we all know....that we have to keep a lot of plates spinning We have to work on curriculum. We have to work on teacher evaluation We need to work on professional development And I would hate for a school technology plan to be just one more plan And maybe a plan that can be set aside when a curricular matter or teacher professional development matter comes up in some other area. That's why, whenever possible, I practice embedded planning. I used to joke about the old Prego spaghetti sauce commercial Where they would talk about herbs and spices and say "Don't worry, it's in there" But it's not actually a joke. When I think about all the plans that we have in school I make sure that technology is embedded in the plan. Now I know that state and federal governments still require us to have technology plans. And I have seen some of those plans...they are so complicated. As Doug Reeves talked about I feel the more complicate the plan, the less it is connected to student learning. But those plans are important, they are requirements and particularly if you are looking for grant funding You need to have plans like this. But I would never have all of my technology planning reside just in my technology plan. I practice embedded planning making sure that technology is integrated into lesson plans professional development for my teachers, and curriculum work that we do as a district. Technology should be part of everyone's teaching and learning. Even with embedded planning, there can be bumps in the road. In fact, you have to realize that there will be bumps in the road. Michael Fullan talks about honoring the Implementation Dip. One would think that things would immediately improve when change is introduced but actually things get worse before they get better. As a school leader I get very excited when I am implementing a new idea that brings technology into my school Let's say it's a new hardware deployment, software deployment, or perhaps I've had a professional developer come in to talk about 21st Century Learning So I'm all excited to get started. But Fullan would tell us not to expect compliments right off. There will be pitfalls. What is important is that as a leader I roll up my sleeves and join in the work. By providing support you can get through the implementation dip and realize effective change in your school. Cultivating change in your school is less about planning and more about supporting, leading, and coaching. Studies show and my own experience bears out that the real important agent in change is your ability as a faculty to talk and work together through the problems you are encountering. To make sure you understand what you are all planning to do and all understand how you want to impact student learning. There is no replacement for working together as a team. But teamwork does not come automatically. It's a leader's job to build an environment of trust where teachers feel good and are supported in making progress and not judged. And you do that, again, by rolling up your sleeves and joining in the work. Honoring the implementation dip and helping people when there are problems and working through with your plan. Because after all, all of our work is about sticking with what is good for students. These children are only going to have a school that helps them be 21st Century Learners if their teachers and principals Plan Less, and Do More Thank you for viewing this presentation and being part of the K12online conference. It doesn't stop with viewing the presentation though. Please join me on the conference ning and on my Twitter page to engage in more conversations about Planning Less and Doing More. Thanks again and I wish you all a successful school year.

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 17 seconds
Year: 2010
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: David Wells
Views: 604
Posted by: k12online on Oct 5, 2010

Teachers and leaders are planners by nature. You have to make sure your students and teachers are ready to learn, have the tools they need, and have enough time to be successful. Sometimes though, you can spend more time planning than you actually spend doing. Learn how to plan less and do more.

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