Non-Negotiables: A Principal’s Strive for Daily 5


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By Jon Konen

With any new implementation, there are challenges and problems, as well as results to celebrate. How a principal and his or her team “goes to solution” determines the health of the team. The faster they can solve their problems, the healthier they are as a team. If the team spends too much time examining and redefining a problem, time and resources can be wasted.

One strategy a principal can use when implementing Daily 5 is to establish a list of non-negotiable items that all teachers must include in their implementation process. The power of this list is that it can be flexible, although it might seem counterintuitive to think of requirements as negotiable. Here are three sample non-negotiables:

  • All teachers will be trained in Daily 5 and CAFE instruction through a live workshop, an online seminar, or by an instructional coach or principal.
  • All teachers will take part in a book study using Daily 5 and CAFE.
  • All teachers will experiment with and adopt at least one aspect of Daily 5 in the first quarter of the school year.

Placing some of the non-negotiables within a strict time frame helps to create a sense of urgency and turns them into schoolwide goals. When a principal walks into any classroom, he or she should be able to see these non-negotiables in action.

Sometimes differentiating non-negotiables is more prudent. For example, a school might not be able to train all staff in a single year, so individual goals might be established for various teachers. Later, when most of the staff have been trained, the school’s non-negotiable list can change. Here is a list of sample non-negotiables for the second year:

  • All teachers will set reading goals with individual students and track their progress.
  • All teachers will group students according to the strategy they need from the CAFE Menu.
  • All teachers will use shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, and read-aloud instruction in their English language arts program for at least 90 minutes per day.

Making sure the non-negotiables have some flexibility within them allows teachers to be creative and adjust their instruction to meet the needs of students. That flexibility should be balanced, however, with reasonable time frames to help keep teachers on schedule.

The power of the non-negotiable list is that it establishes accountability for all teachers, helps principals effectively monitor instruction, creates schoolwide goals, and puts all stakeholders on the path to schoolwide implementation. This list can be added to each quarter, each semester, or at the end of the year. Creating several lists and plotting them on a time line creates a vision for the school. What would be on your list? 

Jon Konen currently works as a K-6 principal in Great Falls, MT.

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