Ten Barriers to Action and How to Overcome Them
(DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 227)

1. Substituting a decision for action

  • “Educators who promote an action orientation avoid this trap by closely monitoring the implementation of decisions.” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 228)

2. Substituting mission for action.

  • “The true mission of a school is revealed by what people do, not by what they say.” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 229)
  • “In schools that progress as PLCs, staff members quickly move beyond mission statements to clarify the characteristics of the school they are trying to create in order to achieve their mission” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 229)

3. Planning as a substitute for action.

  • “Teaching teams to work together in true learning communities committed to ‘continuous, collective, short-term experimentation, judgement, and adjustment'” (Schmoker, 2004, p. 427, as cited in DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 231)

4. Complexity as a barrier to action.

  • “Organizations that were better at learning and translating knowledge into action limited their goals and initiatives” and kept their language, structures, and concepts simple and grounded in common sense. (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 232)

5. Mindless precedent as a barrier to action

  • “The beset strategy for addressing this barrier to action is to bring the unstated assumptions that created the precedent to the surface – to challenge people to think differently about assumptions underlying their practice.” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 235)

6. Internal competition as a barrier to action.

  • “Leaders must start by shifting their focus from evaluating and supervising individuals to developing the capacity of both teams and the entire school to work collaboratively” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 239)
  • Also, SMART goals (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 240-241)

7. Badly designed measurement systems as a barrier to action.

  • Leaders who hope to build PLCs will help staff:
  • Narrow their focus to measurements of the most essential outcomes.
  • Create formative assessment systems that give teachers frequent and timely feedback on the learning of their students.
  • Ensure that the information from such assessments is easily accessible to teachers and presented in a clear and straightforward way. (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 243)

8. An external focus as a barrier to action.

  • “Leaders who hope to foster an action orientation will reframe the conversation from things that cannot be done and the problems the school cannot control to a discussion of the specific steps the school can and must take, right now, to overcome barriers and help more students to achieve at higher levels.” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 246)

9. A focus on attitudes as a barrier to action.

  • “Create conditions that require people to behave in new ways in the hop that these new experiences will affect attitudes and beliefs in a positive way.” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 247)

10. Training as a substitute for action.

  • “The most powerful staff development is job-embedded – teachers learning together as part of their routine practice.” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 248)


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