Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Before Abandoning a Resource

I had the most enjoyable time watching my 3rd grade ELA team this year reflect on a new resource that they implemented this year. When they implemented the resource, they made norms to implement it with fidelity. Now that a year has passed, they took time to review everything about the resource and its impact on instruction. The conversation was fantastic.

How many times do we buy a new resource, try it out, and then wonder 3 years later where it went. All too often resources are discarded simply because teachers didn't have enough time and support to implement the resource with fidelity. Questions about the resource turned into frustration and finally bias about the resource all together. A recipe for abandonment.

To prevent turning a resource into one more dust-collector, teacher teams must spend time reviewing its effectiveness in helping students learn standards and determine teachers' next steps to increase its instructional efficacy. Here are some key points to consider when having a resource reflection meeting.

Teachers should take time to review what they really liked about the resource and how it impacted instruction. Which parts of the resource helped teachers do a better job delivering instruction? Which activities and supports helped students learn the content at a deeper and more meaningful level?

Review parts of the resource that teachers struggled with. Were there activities that teachers had difficulty presenting to students? Where did ambiguity surface when the resource was used? What parts of the resource created frustration for students? How did the resource affect the pacing of instruction?

What questions did teachers wrestle with throughout the year? Even though they tried to answer these questions, they continued to struggle no matter what problem-solving strategies they tried. Teams must make a list of questions that must be answered about the resource before next year begins.

Non-Negotiables for Next Year
Once teams isolate the strengths, weaknesses and questions, teams must create norms to use the resource more effectively for the next year. Identify what parts they will commit to implement better next year.

Resource Recommitment
Let's face it. Resources are rather expensive. They are complex to understand; thus easy to abandon if we don't like the way it works for us. Teams must take time to review resources, their benefits and drawbacks. By making a list of pros and cons about the resource, teams can effectively determine how to more effectively utilize a resource instead of relegating it to the fraternity of dust-collectors.


  1. Good post. Not only do I see team abandon resources too quickly, I also see schools and districts abandon instructional initiatives too soon. Partly, I believe, because they don't fully understand the change process and that, until we get to the stage of looking at how the instruction or resource impacts students, we often think about the personal impact.