“Not another program!”
“I already have enough on my plate…now this too!”
“This may be ‘the thing’ this year, but next year it will be out the window like everything else.”
Having spent 15+ years as an elementary classroom teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to eat lunch daily in the teacher’s lounge (although there never was much lounging!) and attend weekly grade level and/or faculty meetings. I have heard it all (and have probably even said it all myself) when it comes to administrative mandates that seem to be ever-changing. It is true that classroom teachers have a great deal on their plates (now more than ever) and one cause of undue frustration are “programs” that get a lot of hype the first year but don’t last beyond that. Because of this trend, staff skepticism about a program’s longevity and resistance to “dive right in” should be expected by principals and instructional facilitators. After making the initial financial investment, it’s time to lead teachers to understand the value in investing personal and/or classroom time into implementing a newly purchased or piloted program with fidelity (which is necessary in determining its true impact on student achievement).
When adopting any new program, it is important to set one or more goals aligned to the standard(s) that the program is designed to address. Revisit these goals often as a staff and discuss how different teachers are using the new tool(s) and what kind of progress is being made. Action steps and accountability measures must be clearly defined and communicated. Increase ownership in the new program by allowing teachers to help determine the specific scaffolded steps (which will be carried out in the classroom) to get the desired results, using your new program (at least in part) as a vehicle to reach your school’s intended destination.
To quote Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people will perish…” Many of your classroom teachers will likely be unable (or unwilling) to successfully implement any new program without a clear vision of the end goal and an explanation of how the new piece of software/textbook/etc. will help to accomplish it. They are far too busy and overwhelmed to spend even a moment examining something in which they do not see great value. Conveying this sense of value by defining the immediate need that the program addresses (fluency with Math facts for example) is imperative. As far as Factivation!® is concerned, it might look something like this:
The students of John F. Kennedy Elementary will be able to demonstrate fluency with all single-digit Multiplication facts and Division counterparts.
Principal/Instructional Facilitator Action Steps
- Principal/Facilitator will introduce the program to teachers soon after license has been purchased and define its purpose. (Example: Last year, our students scored low in all areas involving computation and we believe this can be attributed to an insufficient fact foundation. We are seeking to target this foundational deficiency with daily Factivation!® lessons.)
- Principal/Facilitator will allow at least one exploration time on the website and give each teacher the chance to login, collaborate with colleagues, and sample lessons.
- Principal/Facilitator will lead discussion on implementation expectations (recommended time/day is 20 minutes) and accountability measures.
Whole Staff Action Steps
- We will watch one Factivation!® tutorial video (approx. 5 minutes) at each grade level meeting until all have been viewed and teachers feel fully equipped.
- We will create a system of class rewards that can be earned after classes pass x number of lessons.
- We will generate student excitement and motivation by highlighting our “Get Factivated” goal and offering a schoolwide celebration once the goal has been achieved.
- We will start preparing students early by having the K-2 teachers use the Factivation!® chants as their class attention-getters.
Individual Teacher Action Steps
- Teachers will administer the Factivation!® Pre-Assessment to determine a baseline from which to measure progress.
- Teachers will challenge students with weekly fluency goals, based on the current Factivation!® lesson.
- Teachers will login to Factivation.com daily and show one instructional video, followed by one Fluency Builder activity.
- Teachers will assess fluency each Friday using the One-Minute Lesson Assessments or the Kubbu online assessment tool.
- To increase motivation, students will track their own progress as they move through the Factivation!® program.
- Teachers will bring assessment results to weekly PLC meetings for collaborative analysis.
The initial monetary investment made in any new program is the beginning. To get the full benefit, be sure to follow up regularly with reminders of WHY you’re providing this tool. Try to set aside 20-30 minutes during a faculty meeting or professional development day at the beginning of the school year to allow teachers to explore the new resources and discuss potential uses with their colleagues. THIS IS KEY! The problem is often not the program itself, but the lack of time, training, and collaboration.
Why did you invest in a new program? Chance are, after researching it yourself or receiving a recommendation from a trusted colleague, you strongly believe that it has the potential to increase student achievement in an area that may have been identified as needing improvement. Help your teachers to see that vision also, so that you can get the maximum return on your investment!