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[Professional Development] How Educators Can Apply the 30-60-90-Day Model to Make Meaningful Changes

[Professional Development] How Educators Can Apply the 30-60-90-Day Model to Make Meaningful Changes

Have you heard of the 30-60-90-day model? For educators, it’s an approach well worth exploring to develop more active plans for professional development and make sure that learning is put in to practice.

What is the 30-60-90-Day Model?

Basically, the 30-60-90-day model is a method to clearly define goals, determine strategies, and provide accountability. As the name implies, you start with a broader, long-term goal, and then you break down what success will look like at the 30-, 60-, and 90-day marks as you move toward achieving it. This includes developing action strategies and determining stakeholders who will be responsible for carrying them out, as well as defining measures of success for each timeframe. Then, at each of the 30-day increments, stakeholders meet to discuss progress and adjust the remainder of the plan as needed.

What’s the Value of the 30-60-90-Day Model for Educators?

Educators are consistently working on innovative solutions to tackle difficult challenges—closing achievement gaps, incorporating social and emotional learning (SEL) to serve growing student mental health needs, working with English language learners, personalizing learning, putting technology to effective use in the classroom, meeting new ESSA accountability requirements, and on and on and on. There is no shortage of great ideas to address these issues, but prioritizing what needs to be focused on first and making sure that new initiatives are implemented with fidelity can be difficult. The 30-60-90-day model can provide a framework to make the process of instituting positive changes more manageable.

By breaking down big goals into smaller steps, with clearly outlined methods to make those steps happen, the 30-60-90-day method can help translate lofty ideas into realistic practices. Better yet, with its focus on building in accountability, the approach can facilitate the kind of collaboration, honest conversation, flexibility, and follow-through that’s key to success with any education initiative at the district, building, or individual classroom level. It can provide a clear path of concrete steps to arrive at a goal.

How Educators Can Apply the 30-60-90-Day Model for Professional Development

Professional development sessions can be a great starting point for educators to use the 30-60-90-day model. All too often, these sessions are packed with plenty of great information but lack clear, actionable takeaways. Try these three steps to use the 30-60-90-day model for accountability toward making meaningful changes in your personal teaching practice, classroom instruction, or broader school or district processes.

  1. Understand the Broader Goal

Before you even go into the session, consider why it’s being held. What is the change that you and your colleagues are hoping to institute? Do you want to try a new approach to classroom literacy instruction? Are you reviewing grading practices? Has your school recently implemented a new online program that you’re being trained on? No matter what the topic at hand is, think critically about ultimate outcome you want to achieve.

  1. Use a Template to Take Notes

A simple Google search can turn up plenty of 30-60-90-day plan templates, including some tailored specifically to education. Using a template (like this one from the Kentucky Department of Education) can be very helpful in breaking down the broader goal you identified in step one into smaller steps to accomplish in the 30-day increments. Templates can also help you organize thoughts around creating action strategies, assigning roles and responsibilities, and determining what is and isn’t working in follow-up meetings. Use the template to take notes during the session so that you can make the most of the information being provided and understand where it will fit into your plan. Alternatively, you can take a less formal approach and just mark your calendar with dates in which your steps will be completed. By simply putting the ideas onto a timeline, you are creating a path to follow and placing an importance on these steps.

  1. Follow Up with Colleagues

The 30-60-90-day model hinges on accountability—so make it a team exercise! Get your colleagues on board with the approach, compare notes after the session, and gather a consensus for creating your plan. Make sure that everyone is aware of his or her role and understands that follow-up meetings are key to making this approach work. As with all initiatives, communication and buy-in are critical to success. With the 30-60-90-day model, you and your team are agreeing upon a way to meet a shared goal, the steps you’ll take to reach the goal, and an opportunity to implement new ideas. There is value in making a shared plan; it takes your team beyond just telling one another, “Great idea!” toward being able to say, “Here is how we are going to make this great idea happen.”

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