Apex Learning works with school districts across the country to increase student outcomes through the implementation of programs supported by digital curriculum. Educational leaders may encounter pushback in the early stages of implementation if they fail to gain buy-in and consensus among staff. Most importantly, teachers must support the program to have a positive impact on student success and resulting school and district performance.
Teachers are extremely busy, and thoughtfully integrating new assessment and instructional assets with existing lessons and activities requires an expenditure of time. In order for teachers to commit to this initial investment of work, they must believe using the digital curriculum will ultimately reduce their overall workload and that it will improve student performance.
If you’re an instructional leader considering implementing a digital curriculum program, consider these five tactics for managing change and getting your team on board.
- Communicate the vision. Ensure everyone understands why you are implementing the new program. What problem are you solving? Discuss specific academic challenges students are facing and provide clear examples of how implementing the new program will impact student outcomes.
- Embrace consensus decision-making. Involve administrators and teachers in the instructional design process and in the selection of accompanying digital tools and resources. Teacher input is invaluable at this stage; they offer a classroom point-of-view and can help leadership avoid unforeseen pitfalls.
- Preview the curriculum. Teachers who are unfamiliar with digital curriculum may worry that it’s less rigorous than traditional instruction. During the selection process, provide teachers with time to preview the curriculum during the regular workday. Encourage exploration of whole units of instruction with an emphasis on standards coverage, formative and summative assessment quality, and lesson engagement. This exercise often validates both the rigor and accessibility of the digital curriculum.
- Offer incentives. Change is hard, and learning to transform instruction takes time. Reward early adopters with incentives such as stipends for participation in programs that take place before or after school and for their participation in a personalized learning community focused on the continuous improvement of the program. Incentives don’t always need to be tangible, either. Communicate the value digital curriculum can bring to teacher work life. For example, reduced grading time, more time for 1:1 instruction, immediate and improved data to drive instruction, and the creation of personalized learning plans.
- Provide support for developing skills and competencies. Incorporating digital curriculum into instruction is complex. In the beginning of implementation, teachers are usually well-trained in program basics. But don’t stop there. Effective implementation requires continuous improvement after launch. Plan follow-up workshops focused on in-classroom coaching and mentoring to further develop best practices for classroom management, instruction and student motivation. Create time for teachers to come together and share best practices and resolve common struggles they’re facing. Consider hosting this collaboration quarterly during the workday and meeting with small groups of teachers by team or subject area.
Because Apex Learning is committed to maximizing the impact of our digital curriculum, we aid in generating thoughtful implementation plans and gaining consensus across schools. Every program begins with an implementation strategy workshop to clearly define the vision, design the instructional model and craft policies and procedures. Our implementation success managers—who are all educators—visit with key stakeholders to discuss the vision, how it will initially launch and how it will develop over the course of the school year. While these efforts take time, they result in high-quality programs that get results for administrators, teachers and students.