Blog

A PLC Love Letter to the Left-Brained, Linear Thinker

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My Dearest Left-Brained Friends, Two years ago I began my quest to be Dad of the Year; if not on the planet, at least in my own home. My hero, my father, was turning 60 years old and his life-long dream was to visit Disney World before he was too old to enjoy it. With three young girls of my own, a family trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth” seemed like the perfect opportunity to celebrate my dad and show my daughters that they too could be a princess one day. Read more

Changing the Oil Before the Journey - Routine Maintenance!

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Three critical questions for principals continuing on the PLC journey in 2016-2017 Read more

Curriculum Pacing – are we focused on coverage or learning?

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My job as a Support Counselor is to help students be able to manage their stress in healthy and productive ways; and as a PLC Associate, I can’t help but think about how different our school will be once we master a shift of practice from teaching to one of learning. Read more

Keep the Focus on Learning

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“Only half of the students in our school were proficient on last year’s end-of-level test, and our teachers seem satisfied with that!” This was the frustrating observation of a school principal that he shared with me in a recent conversation. My first response to him was that perhaps it’s time to revisit why you exist—to go back to your school’s mission and vision—to revisit the first big idea of a professional learning community: an unwavering focus on student learning. Read more

What Have You Resolved to STOP Doing?

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Every year, we make resolutions for the new year about things we plan to do, and many of us have failed at these resolutions only a few weeks or months into the new year. This year, I’m planning on resolving to STOP DOING things that have become bad habits. If we think about this, most of us know that there are at least a few things we should eliminate from our professional list of ineffective behaviors. Read more

Lessons for Life as Well as for Education

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Those of us who have been reading Rick Dufour’s Caring Bridge blogs about his journey through the highs and lows of cancer and its treatment options have been struck by his eloquence and his honesty about life and living it to the fullest. In the entry dated November 30, 2016 Rick talks about the need to develop a “willingness to change one’s perspective” when responding to the new normalcies that cancer creates. Read more

Are You On A “Learning By Labeling” Journey?

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You can call your goat a chicken, but you won’t be eating eggs for breakfast! You may be thinking…what the heck does that mean? Quite simply put, changing the label does not change the outcome! We all should be able to agree with that statement, and yet, I am amazed at how many times I encounter settings where labels change, but practice does not. Read more

School Is a Home for the Mind

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Ask most teachers and they will tell you they wish they had more strategies/training/resources to challenge their students to think for themselves; to acquire and use a repertoire of strategies that will help them attack a problem or situation for which there is no immediate or obvious answer. The importance of this aspect of student learning has become glaringly obvious with the increased rigor of Common Core standards and the assessments used to measure proficiency in those standards. Read more

Connecting PLCs and RTI


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The fundamental purpose of the Professional Learning Community process is captured in Big Idea #1: When a school or district functions as a PLC, educators within the organization embrace high levels of learning for all students as the reason the organization exists and the fundamental responsibility of those who work within it. (DuFour et all, 2016) Read more

Collective Inquiry and Building Shared Knowledge

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One of the factors that makes the PLC at Work model unique is the emphasis on building shared knowledge and building the professional capacity of practitioners. The traditional school model featured individual development, and the PLC model supports collective development. In fact, one of the key principles of the model is that learning for educators is the key to improving student learning (DuFour, DuFour et al. 2016). One of the most important responsibilities of a school leader is to invest in the capacity of those who influence student learning. In the PLC process, we call this activity Collective Inquiry. Read more

From STEM to TEAMS

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There's been much discussion these days about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and what it really means. In fact, you may have been a part of the discussion and are looking to infuse STEM in one way or another into your existing curriculum. Proponents argue that if we can increase math and science opportunities while infusing engineering and technology, it would expose students to the areas of STEM, and could tackle potential career deficits while preparing them for successful 21st Century careers. Read more

Developing Leaders in a PLC

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Being a leader in a PLC comes with tremendous responsibility as well as tremendous opportunity. There is a litany of responsibilities a leader must focus on to build a high-performing school or district. One of those very important responsibilities is develop leadership in the organization. The key is how you develop that leadership. Read more

It’s Not a Meeting; It’s a Way of Being!

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In her keynotes, Becky DuFour often uses the phrase "Clarity precedes competence!" Over the years we have heard the term/acronym "PLC" used in so many ways that it will be hard for schools and districts to be truly competent unless they are clear regarding the meaning of the Professional Learning Communities at Work process. If we continue to use the term "Professional Learning Community" (PLC) in the way that it is being used in many quarters, then it truly has lost its original meaning and influence. Read more

How Kids WIN Systematically

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My experience as a teacher was amazing! I loved teaching, my colleagues, my families, and my students; but I wish I could have a complete redo on my time in the classroom. Regrettably, as a teacher I never had the opportunity to function within a Professional Learning Community. Sure, I had amazing colleagues who became life-long friends. Yes, they were willing to share their “things” that worked for their kids in their classrooms. I definitely was able to get to know “their kids," just as they were able to get to know “my kids” because we shared them for periods of time throughout the week. We even shared data! If you’re reading this and thinking, “Why is Will suggesting he didn’t function within a PLC?”, let me explain. Read more

Harnessing the Collaborative Power of the Four Critical Questions of a Professional Learning Community

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With so many demands on curricular teams these days collaborative time can quickly be sacrificed for coordination tasks such as scheduling events, casual dialogues of best practice, rote test modifications, and adjusting curricular pacing guides, to name a few. This kind of collaboration tends to produce shallow curricular changes, narrow instruction adjustments, non-timely remediation, and superficial assessment modifications. Read more