People working in a computer lab

Our Approach Building teacher and school
readiness for change

Theory of Action

Theory of Action Picture

Readiness for Change

DIG Deeper is focused on building teacher and school readiness to use teaching practices that support students’ engagement in critical thinking. This approach is grounded in the idea that large-scale, lasting change is ultimately driven by individual teachers’ will to do something differently in their instruction.

The originally theory behind the work held that teachers change their practice when they believe the change will help their students learn, when they feel confident that they can enact the change, and when they believe the benefits of the change outweigh the risks. As our work has progressed, we have added a fourth condition: teachers need to believe that their students are ready to engage in critical thinking.

Teaching Practices

Dig Deeper focuses on three targeted teaching practices. These practices prompt students to:

    in argumentation;
    statements with evidence; and
    ideas clearly.
Theory of Action Picture
Our partnership selected these practices informed by Everett Rogers’ theory that certain attributes of practices make them more “spreadable,” or conducive to uptake [1].

The DIG teaching practices are compatible with existing BCPS strategic initiatives to ensure all students are college and career-ready.

They are trialable because they can be integrated across any content area and teachers can use them at their own pace with little risk.

They are simple to carry out because they are specific and actionable and do not require teachers to learn a new instructional program or curriculum.

They have observable results so that teachers can see, first-hand, the impacts of the practices on their students.

Change Strategy

BCPS and Outlier outlined a strategy that capitalized on already existing district structures rather than introduce an new initiative to teachers’ already full plates. The strategy includes:

Professional Development (PD) Infusion:

By attending PD in all subject areas, we identify opportunities for highlighting the targeted teaching practices and then work with the PD facilitators to ensure that happens.


We have created a “co-creation” team composed of teachers, administrators, and BCPS staff to provide practitioner expertise and perspectives on all activities to spread deeper learning to every student.

Strategic Messaging:

We have a communication strategy focused on a single message aimed at helping teachers recognize that no student should be left out: Every student can DIG Deeper to learn.

Demonstration Schools:

We work with a demonstration school in the district’s organizational units called “Cadres.” Teachers in these schools receive additional support for the purpose of generating specific illustrations of actively using DIG teaching practices in their classrooms. We intentionally identified schools in each Cadre, and in some cases selected schools perceived to be underachieving, to underscore our belief that every student can DIG Deeper to learn.

Additional Relationship Building:

We are proactively reaching out to collaborate and spread the belief that “Every student can DIG Deeper to learn” throughout the district. Specifically, we are collaborating with the Department of Equity and Diversity, the Department of Elementary Learning, the Department of Innovative Learning and the Strategic Initiatives Management group.

[1] Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations. New York: Free Press.