Working Systemically in Action: A Guide for Facilitators

Produced by a team of SEDL staff who drew upon more than 3 decades of school reform research and theory, the Working Systemically approach is a process for school improvement—and, ultimately, increased student achievement—that focuses on key components and competencies at all levels of the local educational system. The guide gives technical assistance providers a framework and tools to help schools and districts establish a culture of continuous inquiry and collaboration. Strategies for developing structures and leadership roles necessary to support and sustain both student and staff learning are included.


Introduction to Working Systemically 1
SEDL's Working Systemically Approach 2
The "Works" of Working Systemically 5
Levels of the System 6
Components of the System 7
Competencies for Working Systemically 9
The Working Systemically Approach in Action 14
The Working Systemically Facilitator 19
How to Use This Guide 20
In Summary 21

Phase I: Scanning the System 23
Select a District and Plan the Introduction 25
Present the Approach 29
Collect Preliminary Data 31
Review and Analyze Preliminary Data 34
Present Data Report at the District Level 36
Present Approach and Data Report at the School Level 39
Commit to the Partnership 41

Phase II: Analyzing the System 45
Form the District Leadership Team 47
Collect and Organize Additional Data 51
Conduct a Gap Analysis 54
Formulate a Problem Statement 60
Describe the Ideal State 62

Phase III: Planning Action 67
Review Progress Made to Date and Existing Plan 70
Investigate Research-Based Practices 72
Introduce the Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle 74
- (Click here for The Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle: Introduction)
Develop a District Improvement Plan 77
Formalize and Communicate the District Plan 82
Develop Campus Improvement Plans 84

Phase IV: Taking Action & Monitoring Progress 89
Implement and Monitor the Improvement Plans 93
Provide Leadership for the Improvement Work 96
Address Unique Challenges as They Arise 101

Phase V: Assessing & Reflecting on Outcomes 105
Analyze and Reflect on Evidence of Implementation and Impact 106
Decide on a Focus for Continuing the Improvement Work 109
Recognize Work, Progress, and Accomplishments 112

Appendixes 115