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The School Improvement Specialists
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If you are not looking for it, you won’t find it!

Think back.  How many times have you planned training for your team?  You have done the assessment and the surveying of staff needs and wants.  You did the research and identified good content and qualified trainers.  You created a great buzz about the training and get not only a great turnout, but great participation.  The evaluations come back and they are positive. 

During your walk-throughs over the next couple of weeks, you keep looking for some application of what was trained and so enthusiastically received, but you don’t see it.  What happened?

Here’s the thing

You can do all the training you want, good training, but if you don’t work on the culture they return to, then change may not happen—and in my experience, doesn’t happen.  The question then arises, how are we defining culture?

Most of the leaders we are coaching respond, “We have a strong culture. It is positive.” More times than not, they are right. Lawrence Lezotte (and if you have been reading this blog, you have read this before. Like all good thoughts it bears repetition) tells us to remember that:

“First, existing schools represent a system-in-place. Second, the system-in-place is ideally suited to produce the results the school is currently getting. Third, any change in the desired results from the current system-in-place is going require a change in the mission, core beliefs, and core values that underpin the system, especially if the goal is to permanently sustain the desired change.”

In other words, when all we do is focus on sharing information or data, rather than providing clear strategies for use and evaluation of that use, all the training in the world will fail.  We need to change culture, create new settings and monitor.  We cannot take staff, train them and then return them to the same setting they left.  The training focus has to be on not just informing and changing staff, but changing what they return to and providing a context for that change.

Principal Observing Teacher


4 Things Leaders Can Do

  • Overtly inform you staff how the training aligns to your mission and vision when introducing and talking about  the training
  • Participate in the training—provide input both as a participant and as the leader—don’t dominate, participate.
  • At the end of the training identify with your staff key content that should be implemented in their classroom, and specific behaviors you would like to see. Have a discussion on how this new information can be implemented immediately.
  • Monitor and Feedback: Visit classrooms and look for the behaviors you identified. Provide positive reinforcement when you see it and when you don’t see it, explore with the teacher why you are not seeing it.  It should not be a punishing process, but a discussion. Help them identify obstacles and solutions; clarify information they might not understand; and let them know you will be back. Then make sure you go back.


Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum and it doesn’t happen solely through stand-up training.   It happens when we make the change relevant to our staff, keep it consistent with our mission, and set the expectation and means to see it applied.  The ideas that grow are the ideas that are monitored and nurtured through effective feedback. If you are not looking for it, you won’t find it! 

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