Student Centered Learning – Developing an Implementation Matrix

Over the course of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, I worked with a group of instructional coaches in a district in Illinois to create an implementation matrix to guide educational practice in realizing the district’s vision of personalized, twenty-first century learning where all students are successful.

After I framed the structure for the matrix based on the National Implementation Research Network‘s  Practice Profile Planning Tool, the coaches and I worked collaboratively on the process. The coaches worked between my visits to research, deliberate, synthesize, and articulate the “critical components” of practice and delineate unacceptable variations, emerging practice, and gold standards for each element of those critical components. I offered questions and key resources to sharpen and deepen their understandings.

As the matrix began to take shape the district’s Curriculum and Instruction team met with the coaches to review the emerging matrix and provide feedback. Using SRI’s Tuning Protocol, the C&I team responded to the coaches’ guiding question, offering “warms” (evidence of aspects of the matrix that met the coaches’ stated goals) and “cools” (gaps, areas needing more clarity, and disconnects in the matrix for improvement).

After addressing the C&I team’s feedback, and continuing to refine the Implementation Matrix, we repeated the tuning feedback process of the Matrix with the Student Centered Learning Study Group, which includes SCL champions from every school in the district. Once again, the coaches responded to the feedback as they continued to refine the Matrix. Coaches then worked in teams to present the Matrix to each district school’s faculty, using a modified tuning protocol to solicit faculty responses to the question “Does this document provide enough guidance for implementation? “

Following a thorough review of all feedback, we put the polishing touches on the ready-to-operationalize matrix, compiled a chart listing all feedback (from the original C&I review forward) and the revisions addressing each, and created tables of faculty responses from each school, noting the number of times a given response was given, i.e. the number of individuals each response represented at any given school).

For the final meeting of the school year, the Student Centered Learning Study Group (soon to be rebranded as the 21st Century Teaching and Learning Study Group) reviewed and discussed the documentation. They then worked in small groups to focus on developing shared understanding around key implementation areas – assessment, research, and project-based learning – before reconvening to discuss matrix roll out and professional learning priorities for the following school year.

While the district’s leadership team changed over the course of the two-year process, individually and collectively they maintained a focus on student learning. Patrick Hardy launched the project, Teresa Hines provided continuity and focus, Jody Ware bridged the gap, and Duane Meighan carried the vision forward. The district leadership’s investment in building shared language, commitment, and ownership through support for the instructional coaches’ development work and the successive rounds of feedback throughout the district combined with the coaches’ collaborative learning process, relentless pursuit of high-quality, evidence-based practices, and dedication to creating accessible, practical guidance to produce an exceptional roadmap for implementing student centered learning with clear parameters for fidelity and improvement.

Read the Instructional Coaches’ reflection on the process.

Access the Student Centered Learning Implementation Matrix.

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