Creating the Space to Focus on What Works
- Peter M. DeWitt - Corwin Author and Consultant
Foreword by Andreas Schleicher
Coaching | Curriculum Leadership | Leadership
When it comes to school initiatives, more isn’t always better.
Today’s educators are buried under old practices, new ideas, and recommended initiatives. The problem? With such an abundance of strategies, it’s hard to recognize what, if anything, is working.
Before you’re tempted to add just one more idea to the pile, take a step back—and an objective look—so that you, central office leaders, building leaders, and teachers can decide which practices to keep, which to modify, and which to eliminate altogether. This guide provides
- A research- and evidence-based framework for determining efficacy
- Practical steps for removing, reducing, or replacing ineffective practices
- Action steps, examples, and tips for beginning the work—and getting teacher buy-in
- Templates for charting your school’s individual path to de-implementation
Ineffective practices don’t just waste teacher time; they can have a catastrophic impact on student progress. Use de-implementation to shine a light on the path forward—one where teachers can focus on what works, and students can focus on learning.
In this presentation, Peter DeWitt focuses on de-implementation, which is the abandoning of low value practices (van Bodegom-Vos L.). Tackling the challenge of overwork, he shares the different forms de-implementation can take and when it makes sense to use a formalized process to lessen waste, increase results, and support major school improvement efforts.
Podcast: How De-Implementation Can Ease Overwork
Peter Dewitt discusses the concept of de-implementation and why it’s a term that should be on every leader’s mind.
Chapter 1: The Trouble With Implementation (and how to make it better)
What we all need is time to focus and cut down on the noise. We need time to breathe and engage in conversations that focus on deeper impact...but we won’t get that time back until we begin taking some things off our plates.
Constantly bombarded by new innovations that fail to yield promised results, education leaders often grow frustrated and discouraged. Rather than becoming skeptical of all innovations, Peter advises leaders to become thoughtfully discerning through the process of de-implementation. It’s wise advice that is long overdue and vitally important.
STOP. We add, reform, innovate, and tinker but rarely consider how to reduce and halt that which has the least impact and distracts from the joy of teaching. DeWitt invites you to reflect, respond, and remove, and introduces the notion of efficiency into your life. This book in education is so overdue. It is the Konmari decluttering bible for schools.
Schools are busy places that are often filled with the debris of failed initiatives. Peter's latest book tackles this unspoken challenge head-on. Highlighting the science of de-implementation and presenting a practical framework, his book is a must for any leader seeking support in clearing the decks in their buildings and empowering their teachers to focus on the important work of teaching.
De-Implementation is a core competency for any organization that focuses like a laser on only those high value initiatives that have real impact. Peter shows “the why” behind implementation, and helps you map your own process and success criteria. If your leadership goal is to be more purposeful in where you focus your time, resources and talent, De-implementation can help.
In De-implementation: Creating the Space to Focus on What Works Peter Dewitt convincingly makes the case for getting serious about stopping or reducing (some) existing practices, and he provides no-nonsense tools to help you get this work done. It will help you to take the ‘less-path’, whilst also getting more done in the process!
The pace and breadth of initiatives in schools seem to grow exponentially. De-implementation offers a much-needed sense of relief to step back and “creates space to focus on what works.” The text reads like a conversation, offers a roadmap back to balance, and outlines a clear process and hands-on tools to support along the way.
My goal this year as a principal was to evaluate what we are doing in our building that is effective. As always, Peter Dewitt breaks down big ideas into immediate action steps that are simple. This book is timely for leaders in education because it is an opportunity to make evidence-based changes that focus on student learners and effective practices.
After decades of adding on in public education, DeWitt’s De-Implementation guides readers through a thoughtful experience of reflection, wonder and questioning. He challenges decades of assumptions that more is better. Instead, he encourages more implementation of deep, important practices. Frankly, I will use the concept of “clutter checks” for the rest of my career!
Like Peter says, “It’s now your turn!”
A timely and necessary read, DeWitt challenges us teachers and leaders to look introspectively and consider what might we no longer need in education. The process of implementation should first look at what isn’t serving our best interests and DeWitt provides a practical model to do so. All stakeholders who are responsible for initiatives and professional learning should read this book immediately.
Peter has touched on a topic that so many school leaders have at times completely missed. De-implementation comes at a time when schools are being asked to take more on without considering what needs to be left behind. Peter’s notion of de-implementation provides a platform for school communities to examine not just what they do but how and why they do it.