What If We Could Move from Trying to Get Better to Getting Good at Getting Better?

March 31, 2017

In one of the top ten Carnegie Commons Blog posts of 2016, “Improvement Discipline in Practice,” from July 2015, Carnegie senior partner Alicia Grunow asks, “What if we could move from trying to get better to getting good at getting better?” In this post, Grunow explains that even though classroom teachers frequently describe their daily work as a continuous effort to improve their practice, their improvement innovations rarely make it beyond their classrooms and individual schools. Improvement science practiced in networks offers a solution. It not only offers a rigorous method of testing and iterating improvement ideas, it also provides a way to share and test improvement ideas across many schools and districts. As Grunow states, “In working with teachers engaged in improvement research, they have found that this both builds on and is, at the same time, a significant departure from what they already do. The idea of inventing a change and trying it out quickly comes very naturally. The difference comes in the added discipline: getting clear on the change and the theory behind it, studying how and why things went differently than you thought they would, and taking the time to write this all down. This is new and may feel at first like a strange practice for many educators. It’s hard to believe that it makes a difference at first. Yet, just like scientific endeavors more generally, analytic thinking, systematic experimentation, and documentation are critical.” Read more here.