Over the last several years, I’ve come to rely on the ARCS framework, created by Communities for Learning, for nearly all of my professional planning. I use it to establish a baseline assessment of the groups I work with, to determine entry points into our work together,  to strategically plan, and to assess the influence of our efforts over time. This framework has also transformed the shape and structure of the professional learning experiences that I facilitate, and it’s helped me think in critical ways about the difference I might make in the field. The framework is comprised of four dimensions:

  • Alignment is all about coherence. When I ask educators to define this word, they typically refer to their standards, or what’s worse–to their deficits around them. Alignment is bigger than these small things. It’s about establishing a vision for the work we will do, the people we will be, and the difference we will make. It’s about ensuring that our actions and the way we invest our time and our resources align with our vision as well as our goals.
  • Representation involves cross-role collaboration. It’s about putting those who will be influenced by our efforts at the table in meaningful ways as we plan, implement, assess, and revise our work. It’s not about filling seats, punching time cards, or asking people to jump through hoops so we can say we sought their input. It’s about opening a forum where everyone can share their thoughts, their expertise, their ideas, and their concerns. It’s about having a greater number of eyes and ears and minds and hearts involved in the work and learning. Accomplishing this is often my greatest challenge, particularly when time and resources are short.
  • Attending to Culture requires that I  think deeply about the values, dispositions, and beliefs I wish to nurture and perpetuate in the individuals I work with, in addition to practices. Whenever I’m designing a program or initiative,  I rely on this dimension of the framework to consider how my plans might influence the culture of a classroom, school, individual, or organization. What we do in our efforts to foster learning and growth often works against us when we don’t consider this essential element.
  • Planning for Sustainability challenges me to first define what it is I’m eager to sustain and then plan in strategic  ways that might accomplish this.

It’s this framework that enables me to push the “stuff” of staff development away from the center of whatever work I am facilitating and to place learning at the center. It’s removes me from that position as well.

This spring, I began using the ARCS framework to help me define better purposes as a blogger and a user of other networks.I’m still working out my answers to these questions. I’m wondering what others might be added……ideas?

There is much to consider:

  • What is my vision for the work that I will do here and the influence I hope it will have?
  • How will I define quality and what success looks like?
  • How can my blogging practices better align with this?
  • Who reads this blog most often? How can I use my stats and other data provided on my dashboard to define who that audience is and seek their input? How can I seek it from those I work with day-to-day in order to make this space more valuable to them?
  • What values and dispositions do I hope to perpetuate through my work?
  • What, if anything, am I eager to sustain here? How can I plan for this?

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