A theory of action is basically a summary of your philosophy of how to do something. In my case, how to run a school, because that's what I hope to do some day, though I never expect to actually run a school by myself. In fact, the heart of my current theory of action is collaborative leadership and an approach called empowerment evaluation.
I believe that there are four things that really motivate humans (adding one to Pink's list of three): Autonomy, mastery, purpose, and relationships. This last one, relationships, comes from my own experience and recent readings, like this article about the work of psychologist Barbara Fredrickson (I was introduced to Fredrickson's work by Pink's book, To Sell Is Human).
And this theory of action is built on this foundation. It's also built on the work of Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Childern's Zone ("Whatever It Takes") and all the stuff I've gleaned from readings and discussions over the past two years as part of UCONN's Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP).
But most importantly, I'd like to think it's founded on a sound scientific understanding of learning and human nature, and so it really will be effective in getting every student engaged and helping every student succeed.