“Enthusiasm is highest in those who are learning and achieving” is a quote I will always remember. It was written on the door of one of my high school classrooms. Years later, I returned to my old high school to find that the door had receieved a fresh coat of paint, yet if you were close enough to the door you could still see the quote. After all that time the quote remained. I believe the idea also remains. As an educational leader, it is important to generate enthusiasm. Learning and achievement are great tools in making that happen.

In matters of implementation, I often see fatigue rather than enthusiasm. This typically occurs in the absence of the opportunity to learn and achieve. Educators are simply tired of “one more thing we have to do,” especially when they do not see the connection between these “things” and the goals they are working toward. So, how do we infuse our implementation efforts with enthusiasm? We do this by replacing control with innovation.

Implementation is a challenge. I heard Dr. Tommy Bice (Follow him on Twitter @tbice) speak at the Clas Summer Convention and one of his remarks that really stuck with me dealt with implementation. He discussed how he had traveled to Finland and the education leaders there told him all the best research comes from the United States. The difference is they are implementing the research. We know what to do, but we fall short at times at actually doing it. Implementation is crucial.

There is a science to implementation. It is the Plan–Do–Study–Act cycle (PDSA). It is a knowledge generating cycle that is a quality cycle as well as an innovation cycle. The cycle creates intrinsic energy within your organization because of its reliance on learning instead of control. Click here for a historical background of the development of PDSA and its roots in the scientific method.


  • identify a goal or purpose
  • formulate a theory
  • define success
  • put the plan into action


  • work the plan


  • monitor the outcomes
  • test the validity of the plan for signs of progress/success or problems/areas of improvement


  • integrate the learning that was generated by the entire process
  • adjust the goal
  • change the methods
  • reformulate a theory altogether
  • adapt/abandon or do it again with different parameters

These four steps are repeated as a cycle of continual improvement. Click here to check out Dr. Deming talking about PDSA at the Deming Institute.

One of the many strengths of PDSA is its versatility. It can be used in school wide implementation efforts as well as in a classroom.

An example of a school wide implementation effort would be a school that is implementing the Safe and Civil Schools CHAMPS model. PLAN=  The school has identified a goal of its students becoming increasingly respectful, motivated and highly engaged in instructional activities. Success is defined as a 5 percent decrease in In School Suspension referrals. DO=  All teachers complete a classroom management plan, create and post effective classroom rules, create and post CHAMPS posters in their classroom, and develop and use a menu of consequences. STUDY= In School Suspension data is collected from the previous year and compared with the rates of In School Suspension referrals at the end of each month since implementing CHAMPS. ACT= Once the data is compared the school makes a decision to adopt the CHAMPS model, to abandon the CHAMPS model, or to repeat the cycle with different parameters.

An example of a classroom implementation effort can be found in an AP Literature and Composition class taught by my wife, Holley (Follow her on Twitter @holley0104). PLAN= To increase the number of students who have a qualifying score on the AP exam. DO= Use the AP curriculum to prepare students for the Mock AP Exam to be taken five months before the real exam. STUDY= Monitor the results of the Mock AP Exam to create detailed reports for each student as well as the class and plan lessons accordingly. ACT= Deconstruct prompts from the Mock Exam. Extend lessons that are presented in study sessions. Analyze the multiple choice section of the mock exam.

“Nothing great

was ever

achieved without


-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quality control must work in accordance with innovation. We must acquire knowledge as we work our plan. This lessens the need for control and places the emphasis on learning and achieving and thus creates enthusiasm. If we can infuse our implementation with enthusiasm, I believe that our efforts, much like the quote on the old classroom door, will stand the test of time.