Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Transformation Dare


As the new school year nears, I have been thinking a lot about how to move any teacher beyond complacency, beyond mediocrity, and toward motivation and the desire for excellence. To do this, it will take competence, dedication, and the courage to speak about hard truths along with sustained efforts to improve when the going gets rough. It will also take the knowledge of a strong PLN.

Many of us are familiar with the movie Fireproof and the book, The Love Dare. What if we were to dedicate 40 days to a teacher? Could we move a teacher from good to great? We all know great teachers make great schools. Would you be willing to perform a simple act a day, to rescue a teacher?  

Now, here is where a strong PLN comes into play! For this to work, we need to develop 40 purposeful acts to be carried out by the principal that will ensure effective growth in teacher effectiveness. Some acts may require 45 minutes, others maybe only 5 minutes.  However, each act must serve a purpose.  For instance: Videotape the teacher for fifteen minutes during the instructional delivery. Together, watch the videotape and allow the teacher to analyze the dynamics in the classroom and to accurately diagnose weak areas while together, creating a road map for improvement. (This might be Day 16)  

I would like to start my first hash tag #TheTransformationDare  

I think it would be great if teachers and principals alike, respond with purposeful, authentic ideas that will provide valuable feedback to improve teacher effectiveness. I look forward to arranging and sharing your top 40 ideas on how a principal can lead and transform a teacher from good-to-great.  I think we all agree feedback one time a year is not enough.

Please Contribute


  1. THIS is a very worthwhile concept. I would be very interested in becoming a part of this overall plan. Might I suggest one step/action per week though. I don't think anyone could get where I would imagine they would need to go in 40 days. Gord Holden

  2. Thanks for the comment and sharing your suggestions. This is the type of conversation I hope to spark. I hope that principals contribute their most effective strategy to improving teacher quality. I hope teachers share ideas or acts they would like to see performed by the principal that would provide valuable and meaningful feedback to enhance their effectiveness as a teacher.

    The act may be intensive, aggressive or collaborative as long as it has a purpose!

  3. Shawn,

    I just used your hashtag and posted this on Twitter:

    Reduce/remove non-instructional duty periods and replace w/ professional growth periods (PD embedded into every day)

    Good luck with this endeavor!

  4. Thanks Eric! Excellent Comment!

    If we were to create a guide of 40 consecutive days, what would it look like. If you are a principal, describe your best strategy you have employed to help a teacher improve performance.

    If you are a teacher, describe an expectation you would like your principal to carry out to help you enhance your effectiveness as a teacher.


  5. Great idea, Shawn! I'm going to add a #TheTransformationDare column to my Tweetdeck right now. I am in between a teacher and a principal (Director of Curriculum who teaches) and will try to contribute from all perspectives. Looking forward to this conversation!

  6. Kristen Sanchez, thank you for the comment.

    My goal is to collaboratively develop a guide that states specific acts that if carried out, will transform a teacher from good to great regardless of the teacher's prior weakness. Once complete, I plan to take on "The Transformation Dare," hopefully simultaneously with members from our PLN, and share our journey together.

    What act should be performed on Day 1.......Day 2....etc? The more feedback, the more effective the guide will become.

    Thanks for contributing! I agree, Day 1 should be to discuss with the teacher, in detail, what effective teaching looks like. Maybe provide a rubric such as Charlotte Danielson's "Framework for Teaching Rubric and have the teacher circle where she believes she fits within each domain. The principal should critique the teacher as well using the same rubric. Together, the teacher and principal can compare and discuss any differences.

  7. Hey Shawn, I am a big fan of consistency so I think, rather than something different each day, each day would build on the previous. In the book, Drive, Daniel Pink discusses the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose (based on the research of Deci and Ryan). When trying to move from good to great, there is the assumption that the teacher wants to be there and already demonstrates some passion (therefore they are presnetly 'good'). To build upon Eric's thoughts, what if each day for one week, a teacher had some "google time" (20% of the day) that was theirs to use to do whatever they wanted to develop something for their practice? I did this once a week as part of their "FedEx (innovation) prep" and saw some great results: you can see the post here:

  8. Thank you Chris, I read your post frequently and am very familiar with "FedEx" and how you have implemented this time to improve teacher effectiveness. This is a terrific idea and I too agree that the most crucial element is IF the teacher desires to be great! Thank you for sharing and allowing me to learn from your expertise. Shawn