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Making Room for Impact

Making Room for Impact
A De-implementation Guide for Educators

  • Arran Hamilton - Group Director, Education, Cognition
  • John Hattie - The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Dylan Wiliam - Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at University College London

Foreword by Lyn Sharratt

July 2023 | 344 pages | Corwin

Dial back and make room for impact

With teacher and leader workloads and burnout at an all-time high, it’s time for de-implementation: de-prioritizing and deleting the less effective, higher-cost initiatives we implement in schools. De-implementation allows us to focus on practices that have more supporting evidence and a higher probability of positive impact on students, and at the same time gain much-needed work-life balance.

In this book, the internationally respected education experts and authors provide a clear four-stage process for winnowing down teaching and learning to high-effect practices. Informed by the latest research in learning, education, healthcare, and psychology, each step and tool is designed to move educators through the hard parts of letting go. Inside, you’ll find:

  • Research that tells us the process of schooling is often over-engineered and that gives us permission to dial back, carefully
  • A step-by-step process for deciding which initiatives are most effective—and how to let go of the ones that are not
  • Useful tools, templates, and charts that educators can immediately use in their de-implementation work at school, in teaching teams, or at the system level

It’s time to get our lives back—without harming student learning. If we can collectively learn to let go and understand how to identify which initiatives are worthwhile, we’ll have more time for what truly matters.

Foreword by Dr. Lyn Sharatt
Part 1: The Big Picture
Chapter 1: Why We Need to De-Implement (and Why it’s Hard)
Chapter 2: Room for Impact: The Helicopter Overview
Part 2: Discover Stage
Chapter 3: Permit
Chapter 4: Prospect
Chapter 5: Postulate
Part 3: Decide Stage
Chapter 6: Propose
Chapter 7: Prepare
Chapter 8: Picture
Part 4: De-Implement Stage
Chapter 9: Proceed
Part 5: Re-Decide Stage
Chapter 10: aPpraise
Chapter 11: Propel

"Written by an unbeatable team of authors on how to improve outcomes by decluttering, this book is surely of interest to school leaders and teachers everywhere."

Michael Barber
author of "Accomplishment: How Ambitious and Challenging Things Get Done," UK

"Two ideas came me as I was reading this book. The first was that these are such good ideas, I wonder why it has taken so long for them to reach print. The second one is that any book that promises me a means of ‘getting off the hamster wheel’ has to be taken seriously, so much so that I wish this movement to de-implementation had been more fully developed when I was working full-time directing a large-scale education reform project in 50 secondary schools: a recipe for needing de-implementation if ever there was one. I would have benefitted from the processes identified in this book immensely."

Russell Bishop ONZM
Emeritus Professor, University of Waikato, New Zealand

"I don’t think I have ever read an educational book quite like this, simply because the focus is not on the latest new thing you should be trying, but a compelling argument on how to become more effective through doing less. By suggesting a range of powerful practical processes through which you can remove, reduce, re-engineer or replace what you do, this book really empowers the reader to be bold. But this is not about taking risks; it is a powerful, evidence-informed guide on how to stop doing what you have always done (much of which we think is mandated from on high when it’s not) if there are better alternatives. As Michael Bungay-Stanier reminds us in his excellent book ‘The Coaching Habit’, one of the key questions we need to ask ourselves is, “if you are saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?” I cannot think of a better companion to have at your side than this unique and well-argued book which has the potential to transform workload, enhance staff well-being, and improve student outcomes. I absolutely loved it!"

Andy Buck
Founder of Leadership Matters and BASIC Coaching and former director of the National College for School Leadership, UK

"Hamilton, Hattie, and Wiliam provide a comprehensive guide that will assist busy educators in determining what to stop, start, and continue in their efforts to improve schools. Their model is grounded in research and provides a practical and efficient methodology for de-implementation that is long overdue and needed in education."

Jenni Donohoo
Author of "Collective Efficacy: How Educators’ Beliefs Impact Student Learning" and "Quality Implementation"

"Educational improvement efforts are plagued by remnants of previous efforts that were also designed to change outcomes. These fragments, or perhaps even entire initiatives, prevent the knowledge we have now from taking hold. Implementation fails because there are too many other things that are not working but haven’t been abandoned. It’s as if we’re at a buffet, with a full plate, and instead of removing some items, we ask for another plate and pile it on. We need to learn how to stop doing things that no longer work and this guide provides a toolkit for accomplishing just that.  Before trying to implement a new program or initiative, take stock and figure out what needs to go. Then follow the process outlined in this book to successfully de-implement and remove the clutter so that the good ideas take hold."

Douglas Fisher
Professor of Educational Leadership, San Diego State University

"There's no end to the list of tasks teachers and schools could take on. So where can teachers find the space and time needed to make improvements, adopt better programmes, or simply go home earlier? This admirable book offers the clearest answer I've yet seen. The authors offer valuable guidance in why making room for impact matters, how we can pursue it, and precisely what steps we might choose to take. Even more importantly, they offer schools license to work towards doing less and doing differently—not just more and more. The examples of how this can be done, practical and provocative alike, are also helpful. If you've ever wished you had more time, or didn't have to do something, read this book."

Harry Fletcher-Wood
author of "Habits of Success" and "Responsive Teaching," UK

"Making Room for Impact is a magnificent and unique book. It addresses a crucial almost completely neglected topic—how to get rid of or re-constitute things that no longer work!

I am sure the reader has heard the lament that the old ‘grammar of school’ continues to plague all efforts of reform. What reformers have traditionally done is to criticize the old way, try to implement the new only to find that they have failed time and again. How about: systematically getting rid of the old as you pave the way for the new. This book furnishes a roadmap to do just that. With fantastic graphics— a transformer's dream tool box— Making Room for Impact systematically guides us through nine ways to identify, unravel, and rid the organization of distractors as you mobilize the forces for new action. The reader learns to Discover, Decide, De-Implement, and Re-Decide, ending up with less work in total, and more powerful impact. This is a gem of a book for the action-oriented who want to affect both the small and big picture for the better."

Michael Fullan
Professor Emeritus, OISE/University of Toronto

"Skilled mountaineers know that to reach the summit, you carry only what you need. Carrying more diminishes your chances of success and threatens your survival. In this book, Arran, John, and Dylan provide the practical guidance that school leaders so desperately need to lighten their packs, improve their efficiency of impact, and succeed in reaching the summit of helping all students learn."

Thomas R. Guskey
Professor Emeritus in the College of Education, University of Kentucky

"Kurt Vonnegut's immortal 'Cat's Cradle' featured the Bokonist mantra 'busy, busy, busy.' I've often thought the phrase works all too well as a description of schooling, where the mandatory and routine squeeze out the good. In Making Room for Impact, instead of giving school leaders yet another to-do list, the authors instead offer much-needed but far-too-rare guidance on how to focus in on what matters most and carefully de-implement the rest."

Frederick M. Hess
Director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC

"Unbearable workloads are a chief reason given for the teacher shortage experienced in many countries. Often teachers are exhorted to ‘work smarter, not harder’, but they rarely receive advice about how to do this. This new book, from a team of highly regarded educators and researchers, is unique in that it provides guidance on both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. It offers a process, based on principles, for removing, reducing, re-engineering, or replacing existing practices in order to concentrate on those practices likely to have most positive impact in terms of learning outcomes.

The authors draw on extensive research from the fields of education, medicine, business, and across the English-speaking world. However, the book wears its learning lightly: It is very readable, has a strong sense of an audience of educators, and is structured in such a way that the key themes are reprised for practitioners who are likely to dip into different chapters as the need arises. It should be read by teachers, school leaders, and teacher educators, but also by policymakers who often promote innovations with insufficient attention to value or consequences."

Mary James
Professor Emerita, University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, UK

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ISBN: 9781071917077