Let's face it—the gap between understanding and implementation has been the downfall of many well-intended professional development efforts. With that in mind, here are 9 implementation tips to support your journey to becoming a FIP School:
- Assemble a team. Everyone—administrators, coaches, teachers, parents, and students—has a role in using formative instructional practices. It’s important to organize a planning team that includes members with various roles and perspectives. Cultivating a culture of shared ownership is only possible when a distributed leadership model is used. Check out the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council (OLAC) for more information about creating collaborative, effective teams. Not only can this core team help plan a successful implementation, they serve as important champions of the work.
- Familiarize yourself with available resources. FIP Your School provides a variety of presentations, brochures, facilitation tools, and online learning modules to support your implementation. Your team should take the time to become familiar with these materials and think about how they might benefit all school stakeholders.
- Set conditions to support success. Are your teachers organized into teacher-based teams (also referred to as professional learning communities)? Again, check out the OLAC website for more on how effective teacher-based teams function. If you already have teams in place, make sure you have adequate time allotted for learning. Don’t be afraid to get creative with scheduling!
- Promote awareness to create collective commitment. To effectively support FIP implementation, start by building awareness and commitment. Don’t skip this critical step! Sharing the vision for this work and communicating clearly and thoughtfully with all stakeholders will set you up for success. Demonstrate how formative instructional practices support teachers through current improvement efforts, including changes to standards, evaluation systems, and student growth measures. Combat the reaction that “FIP is one more thing” by helping others understand that FIP is the one thing that connects to all aspects of our education reform work.
- Learn about formative instructional practices. Creating a common understanding of formative instructional practices across your school can ensure that these practices are implemented with fidelity. Even educators and administrators who have been using formative instructional practices for years can benefit from the learning provided in the Foundations of Formative Instructional Practices modules, which explain the four core components of FIP: creating clear learning targets; collecting evidence of learning; providing effective feedback; and encouraging student ownership of learning.
- Create effective feedback loops. Don’t forget the online learning modules offered through FIP Your School are only part of the equation. An effective, professional blended learning experience also includes collaborative learning, practice, and feedback. Foster an environment where teachers feel comfortable sharing their learning, progress, and challenges within their teams—and participate in the learning and practice with them!
- Monitor your progress. Remember the old adage, “what gets measured, gets done.” Determine how you’re going to monitor your implementation. You can model formative instructional practices by collecting and documenting evidence of your school’s progress. Make it interesting—just like students, adults are motivated and engaged by evidence of their progress.
- Have a plan for building capacity. Be thoughtful about how to build capacity in your school. Consider asking teachers who are further along in their use of formative instructional practices to serve as mentors, and think about the skills you want new hires to have. Also, take the time to share ideas outside of your school—with more than 300 districts and community schools committed to establishing FIP Schools, there are others working on this same challenge. Check out FIP Campus to connect with other educators implementing formative instructional practices.
- Keep your focus. Formative instructional practices are not a project or initiative; they are the heart of teaching and learning. Sustaining these practices requires a commitment. Think about how you can model the core components of FIP and embed them into the very routines, structures, and expectations that make up your school’s culture.
Becoming a FIP School is about building a culture that focuses on practices that make a difference for students, while supporting teachers’ professional growth.
What implementation tips would you add to this list? What's worked or not worked in your school? Share your ideas in the comments below! You can also share your stories on Twitter using the hashtag #ohFIP.