Blog

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

Decreasing Despondency by Increasing Decision-Making

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Most of the schools I have the privilege to work with are identified as "Priority" or low-performing schools. Sadly, one of the things I often encounter with the teachers and administrators I meet is an increasing sense of despondency. It’s not that they don’t care deeply about their students and want to do what’s best for them; they do! It’s just that there still seems to be an underlying current of doubt that things will ever actually change, or that they have the ability to impact that change. Read more

How Hundred Day Plans Sustain a Culture of Continuous Improvement

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You’re feeling good – you have created demand for modeling your school as a PLC and have structures in place to answer the key questions. You are making progress along the PLC journey… Well, you think you are. Or perhaps your PLC is stagnant; you are not seeing progress or you are not sure about how to measure it. Or maybe your school is just beginning the PLC journey and you are questioning how to monitor the first stages, especially since small wins are essential in the beginning to sustain the momentum. Or perhaps you’re wrestling with when and how to lay out the next steps of your school’s improvement work and are trying to determine how it fits into the larger school improvement plan. Read more

The 3 Misconceptions of Collaboration

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A guiding coalition is formed, teachers are placed in collaborative teams, and the work begins. What could go wrong? Unfortunately, what often plays out is that the renewed enthusiasm is quickly eroded because educators charged with implementing the PLC process succumb to the misconceptions of collaboration. Read more

Prioritizing the C3 Standards to Address Question 1 of a PLC

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Many schools have already adopted or are in process of adopting the new C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards. The C3 Framework is organized into 4 dimensions. As schools using the PLC adopt the framework, the first step is to engage in the process of addressing Question 1: What do we want our students to learn? As with other standards documents, there are numerous standards in the C3. Read more

Educators as Change Agents

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Change is hard! The funny thing is, one of the reasons I’ve stayed in education for 20 years and gravitated towards working with adults on school improvement is that I yearn to be an agent of change. Nobody likes it when change is thrust upon them, but I do love making change happen. Read more

The Power of Going Vertical

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A great deal of our work to improve student learning is accomplished through powerful conversations at the team level. Collaborative teams answer the guiding question, “What do we want students to know and do?” by identifying essential standards and examples of proficiency in those standards. Read more

How Our Teams Can Reflect at a Higher Level

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Robert Marzano taught us many years ago that the school level factor that has the greatest impact on student learning is a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Given the bank of research supporting common formative assessments (CFAs), it is time we study whether CFAs are the team-level factor that most impacts student learning. Read more

Creating a Culture of Commitment

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We never would have believed that the four critical questions of a PLC could create such a positive impact on our learning environment and student achievement. However, in Kinard’s PLC journey, once the teams identified the essential standards for each of their respective content areas, we were left with questions about how to systematize and coordinate the skills, dispositions and behaviors that we wanted our students to demonstrate. Read more

The Answer is in the Room—But Who is in the Room?

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In a professional learning community, working collaboratively is a way of life. This component of the work is fairly well-known and understood by many. And you may have even heard one of these phrases, “The answer is in the room,” or “None of us is as smart as all of us.” But who is included on your collaborative team? Who are we referring to when we say “us”? Read more