20 Day March

Our First 20 Days

20 Days In!

Dear Staff,

It is hard to believe we have completed our first 20 days of school. Congratulations!


I relate the start of our journey in the first 20 days to my opening speech about Roald Amundsen's 20 Mile March to the South Pole. As we reflect on the first 20 days of the school year we ask ourselves:

  • What are our challenges?

  • What are our identified Learner-Centered Problems (what the students do not understand to the level we would like them to)?

  • What are we going to change in our teaching that addresses the identified learner centered problems? (Problem of Practice)

  • What is driving our work in our PLCs?

  • Are your actions driven by results?

  • What can we celebrate in the first 20 days?

What will you include in your next 20 day march?

In their book, Great by Choice, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen identify 7 elements from Roald Amundsen's journey to the South Pole that have made individuals and enterprises achieve at high levels over time.


The elements include:

1. Clear Performance Markers. (Benchmarks)

A good 20 day March begins with a performance marker that does not fall below a lower bound acceptable achievement. It creates a productive discomfort and is challenging but not impossible to do even if it is difficult at times.


Many of you have used data protocols, PLC driven discussions and personal reflection to identify these benchmarks in your personal and team goals.

What do we want the students to know and how do we get them there?

2. Self-imposed limits (Focus)

What is important now? (WIN) is often used to manage the chaos. Stay consistent on the “important” and manage the urgency. I have observed increased talk in PLCs that is focused on student work, culturally responsive teaching, rigor, and student-led and problem based activities.


3. Appropriate to the context (Personalization)

A good 20 day march includes personalization to the environment or context, Robert Scott chose horses to carry supplies to the South Pole which fell through the snow and was ill fitted for the journey. Amundsen used sled dogs that were well suited for the trip and was successful. What is our context?

In the first 20 days I have seen great work and discussions take place, and at a much higher level than ever before, surrounding ELD plans, IEPs, GT plans and other personalization to meet the needs of our students.


4. Largely within your control to achieve (literacy, numeracy, rigor)

The instructors need to be the architect of the learning.The plan needs to be owned, adapted and implemented by the individual and the team.


I appreciate the individual goals and teamwork I have seen so far. Our teams are owning the work and challenging themselves to improve.


5. Proper Time Frame

A good 20 day march learning cycle has a "Goldilocks" time frame, it will lose its power by being too long or exposed to uncontrollable variability by being too short.

Leaders from each school have already come together in the first 20 days to build strategic plans for the steps we will take to get to our long-term vision. Thank you!


6. Design imposed by individual or team (Your Problem of Practice)

Each of you hold ownership of our plan and the way to increase literacy, numeracy and problem solving is by working on the work as an individual as well as a greater team. We do not need to work harder but to do the right work more often.


Within our first 20 days, PLC teams have been reviewing research on the most promising instruction practices that have the highest impact on student learning. This work will propel the success of our students.


7. Achieve with great consistency (Good intentions do not count)

“The number one reason that people do not meet the goals of their plan is because they just do not do it.” (David Gregory) We are all busy and have a lot on our plate and that is why it is important to design actionable plans and be accountable to our own benchmarks.

EPSD Podcast

Ruby Bode has made a fantastic podcast, blog, and template to help us all reflect on the goals that we have identified that are important to us.

What is YOUR 20 day march?

The way to reach our goals surrounding literacy, numeracy, problem solving, etc. is to be intentional with our work. We need to utilize the power of team efficacy, identify the learner centered problems, change our practices (problem of practice), and monitor our growth for all students in appropriate learning cycles.


I am excited and amazed by the reflection and focus that all of you have shown in the first 20 days of school. I cannot wait to see what will be accomplished in the next 20 days.


Thanks for all you do!


Your Humble Servant,

Sheldon