Implementation Rules Supreme

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It is mid-August.  The smell of freshly waxed floors and newly painted lockers flows throughout the halls of the school.  Your school is ready for teachers and students to arrive.

New technology and curriculum purchases have been made, and this year will be the one that everyone embraces.  Teachers will cheer as they enter and find exciting new tools.  Students will hug you in the halls because they get to engage with the coolest new technology on the planet.  We have traveled to Utopia.

Then, reality sets in.

Teachers begin planning and delivering lessons.  The new technology you were excited about somehow is only being used by one team and a handful of other random teachers.  One of your top teachers tells you they will look at it after the first nine weeks.  Maybe.  Students aren’t hugging you in the halls because they haven’t even been able to log into the new site.  Passwords cannot be found.  Parents are calling because their child cannot access anything at home.  Utopia has kicked you in the teeth.  “It’s the software companies fault!”  Then, the worst sets in.  You begin to wonder if you have the right team as some teachers never seem to embrace anything.  (Hint: that isn’t it.)

Sound familiar?  Educators can relate as this is a more common occurrence than anyone would like to admit and oddly enough it is easily avoidable.

Education by design is a reactive system.  

Students work and are assessed -> Data is collected -> Decisions are made based on data -> Students work and are assessed.   

However, when key contributors in education can be made proactively, we see immense success.  The reactive system is what generates much of the frustration.

A top proactive contributor to education success is implementation with fidelity.   By definition, implementation with fidelity occurs when teachers use the instructional strategies and deliver the content of the curriculum in the way it was designed to be used and delivered.  There are many views on what needs to occur for an implantation to be considered to have fidelity, but here are five items to consider to make sure you are on the right track.


  • Implementations should have full participation even from the “easy adopters”.
  • Planning for implementation should begin at minimum 3-6 months from start.  This allows for items to be corrected or missing participants to be included.
  • A clear set of realistic goals should be outlined and agreed upon by the participants that define what a successful implementation will look like in the school, classroom, and at home.
  • A firm and agreed upon schedule set to deliver training.  Follow up training should be included.  
  • Implementation review dates set with vendors and key school leaders for 30-60-90 days after start.   There will be glitches.  There are always glitches.  This is the way to proactively embrace them.

Have additional steps to add?  Please send them along in the comments.  Quoting an African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”, I believe the same can be stated as “It takes a community to educate a child.”   We grow when we share.