This post is part of a series related to using Learning Sprints as described by Agile Schools and Dr. Simon Breakspear. The purpose of sharing these experiences is to help other school leaders in putting in place Learning Sprints by sharing triumphs and lessons learned throughout our experiment. Our learning was facilitated by the Alberta Teachers’ Association Agile Network.

I have just spend the day at an Alberta Teachers’ Association – Agile Schools Network event with the Agile School team. I left the day energized about our plan for school improvement. It was great to connect with our team and interact with other schools around Alberta. It was also wonderful to plan about how we might have an impact on student learning at our school.

A big part of the day was spent on planning for our next Learning Sprint. We think that we have our plan in place, but now comes the big leap. Taking a plan from a sheet of paper to action in schools. This is where many of my “great ideas” have fallen apart before, so I have been reflecting on ways that I might be able to increase the likelihood of reaching my goals. Here are some tips that I am going to try this time.

Lean on the Team

I have already written about how I think that successful teams meet regularly (Check In to Win), and how meeting increases the likelihood of success. After today’s conversations, I am more firm in my belief that we need to make this happen. I need to lean on my team so that together we can share our work, our successes, and our stretches. We need to ensure we are coming together regularly to keep our focus on this work. This meeting will keep our goals fresh in my mind and will help me not get caught up in my everyday grind.

Contingency Plan

As part of my planning for this coming Learning Sprint, I have included a list of things that I believe are most likely to be barrier to our success. I am using the “when-then” approach that some researchers see as beneficial when goal planning. I have 2 main objectives for doing this. First, I want to avoid potential barriers by creating a list and seeking proactive solutions. Secondly, for things that I can not proactively avoid, a plan for what I will do in the case that they come to pass (when this happens, then…). This planning makes me feel much more confident that I can achieve our goals and that I can deal with things that come up.

Personalize the Plan

Another strategy I am using this cycle is putting a personal spin on the benefits of our goals. I am asking myself about the individuals at our school who will benefit if we are successful in our Learning Sprint. I am putting a face to who will have a better learning experience if we do what we set out to do. This will remind me that our actions have tangible benefits on individuals. I believe that this strategy will help me to keep focused and know that if we accomplish our goals, we will have bettered a human being’s outlook on education. This is a reminder that in education we deal with students, not with abstract concepts. The actions we choose to undertake have effects on real people. This is an important reminder.

Reminders for Focus

This round, I am going to set up some environmental cues to help remind me to work towards what is important. First, I am going to set up some visual cues that will remind me of our goals for this Learning Sprint. Some ideas I have right now are:

  • Change the background on my computer to a picture I like with the learning outcome we are targeting written across the image.
  • Set-up a reminder in my phone or computer to automatically remind me of the most important goals of our sprint on a regular basis.
  • Set a time in my calendar where I work on the Learning Sprint so that I don’t get caught up in the daily business of the school.

We have had success up to this point with our targeted interventions and Learning Sprints. I am hoping that these small strategies will help me to take our next plan from a plan to action.


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