Blog

Keeping the Ball Rolling: Maintaining Momentum and Urgency in a PLC

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The generation of innovative ideas and practices are often propelled through attendance at professional learning sessions where engaging practitioners and experts share their knowledge. Participants leave energized and excited; ready to get back to their schools to implement the new learning. All too often, without a systematic and consistent approach present within the culture of their schools, much of this enthusiasm diminishes when day-to-day obstacles arise. Read more

Developing a Model PLC Culture

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Two things happened in 2017 that would test the culture I helped create the last five years at the Model PLC campus at Coppell North. I went on maternity leave for a few months and then I made the tough decision to leave my amazing campus team to be closer to my own family in early July 2017. To know, by evidence, that you helped plant and grow a culture so strong that even when you are gone short term or long term and it is still functioning as a true professional learning community (PLC) is one of the greatest legacies any leader could hope for their staff and students. The way I “principal” today was shaped by what I learned along my Model PLC journey. Read more

Compound Interest: Use it Today with PLCs

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Albert Einstein is said to have stated that “compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” Compound interest is the addition of interest to the principal sum. By reinvesting interest, the base grows larger and when that base grows again by a percentage, the amount of growth is compounded. In this blog you’ll learn how the universal power of compound interest and PLCs can shape your school. Read more

The “Now What?” Of Life: Celebrating Rebecca DuFour

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I took off my suit jacket as I approached the car with this intense feeling I had done this very act of taking off my suit jacket and getting into my car, many times before. I had this awareness too that those moments had always left me feeling a bit empty. It was a feeling similar to the one you sense right after spending hours with friends and family, saying goodbye, going on your way, but feeling a bit homesick for them immediately. I could not escape how, similar to other events like this, I was once again left wondering, “Now what?” Read more

Assistants as Members of the PLC

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Schools across the country are generally staffed with highly trained professional administrators, teachers and content specialists. In my work assisting schools with building PLCs, the staff members closest to the instruction are usually the ones that first come to mind when discussing who the “professionals” are that make up a PLC. However, in my experience as a building principal, I very quickly realized that the work of instructional assistants can be crucial in helping a school meet goals and sustain success. Read more

Do the Right Work: Develop Your PLC Road Map

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Highly-effective PLCs understand that collaboration is inherently neutral, and for the process to generate outcomes, collaborative teams must do the right work with a results orientation. The key is getting tight on the right things. Toward that end, schools and districts must remain focused on the following essential questions to promote accountability and ensure reciprocal accountability. Read more

PLC Teams Work Hand in Hand with Literacy

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Students aren’t databases or encyclopedias; they need to access and apply knowledge. Their literacy skills become the engine that drives their learning. Fortunately, the PLC at Work model helps collaborative teams discover this truth AND spark the professional growth that teachers need to improve, step-by-step over a career, as teachers of literacy. Read more

No Need for a Fifth Question: How A Collaborative Team Improves Instruction In A PLC

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Collaborative teams in a PLC are asked to engage in weekly job-embedded professional development and build shared knowledge in the areas of curriculum, assessment, data analysis, intervention, and . . . Read more

The Beauty of the PLC Process

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The beauty of the PLC process is that the more our educators learn about best practices and implement those practices, the more our students will learn and grow. Over the past couple of years, we started to see an uptick in unwanted behaviors in our school. The great thing about reaching out to my entire staff was that I had several people who had previous experience implementing the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) process. Read more

What Does Hiring Look Like in a PLC?

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The most important decision you can make as a leader is who gets to join your team. This decision is even more critical when you are in the process of becoming a professional learning community. So, let’s look at your hiring practices through the lens of a PLC. Read more

What is Your Why?

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Many efforts at school improvement have been stymied despite the best intentions of those involved. Once schools are in the thick of things, and the change efforts schools are engaged in begin to inevitably face challenges and the initial excitement begins to wane, schools will be faced with a decision. Do we continue to push forward, despite the difficulties we are facing, or do we go back to what we have always done and what is, in many ways, easier? Read more

The Evolution of a Virtual Coach

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I was given a Framework for PLC Principals which included seven main topics which I approached as my curriculum therefore I had to be “tight” in that they must be the foundation of my sessions. How I planned each session gave me the autonomy or “looseness” to make it my own. Read more

Put the “R” back into RTI by Reconnecting to the PLC at Work™ Model

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Many schools are frustrated by their attempts to answer Question 3 of the PLC at Work™ process, “How will we respond when students don’t learn it?” In many cases, this frustration is caused by the fact that they are attempting to answer Question 3 before answering Question 1, “What is it we want all students to know and be able to do?” In other words, what do we want all students to learn? Read more

The Most Important Interview Question I Bet You’ve Never Asked

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Let me start with a simple truth: There is no single decision made by the principal of a professional learning community more important than who to hire to fill vacancies on individual learning teams. After all, the teachers that you hire today are likely to be a part of your faculty—working with students, influencing colleagues, shaping decisions, impacting public relations—for years to come. Read more

The Case for Coaches in Professional Learning Communities

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Instructional coaching is a balancing act of working with teams to help ensure the fidelity of the three big ideas of a PLC and also provide the time and support to individual teachers who need it. If members of a collaborative team become worried about individual teacher performance, then they can get derailed from focusing on the four critical questions that should be guiding their work. Read more