Blog

On What Kind of PLC Journey Are You: Learning...or Doing?

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Becoming a PLC is a journey of transformation. It requires that we nurture and cultivate a collaborative culture anchored around a shared commitment of one thing: learning. However, it is amazing how many times I see folks engaged in what they believe to be the work of a collaborative team in a professional learning community. Yet, through their conversations about their work, they demonstrate the only thing that has really changed is what they call their meeting time. Read more

Leading a Culture of Collaboration

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When we began the 2018–19 school year, we knew as administrators that we were beginning a journey that would change the way that we do things at East Pointe Elementary. We understood that the work toward becoming a true professional learning community was going to be hard but that the effort to maximize learning for every student would be worth it. What we didn’t completely realize was the depth to which we would experience those difficult moments nor the magnitude to which we would appreciate those hard earned victories. Read more

PLC: The Catalyst for Change at Eastside Elementary

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Change and education go hand in hand. As Principal of Eastside Elementary, I can attest to the positive change from the two years as a PLC pilot school partnering with Solution Tree and Arkansas Department of Education. President Obama stated, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” This quote rings true for my staff, because they have truly embraced the process. If you were to ask an Eastside team member, they would say change has taken place by our work becoming more clear and focused. Read more

Starting the PLC Journey

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There are many paths that lead an educator, a school, a district, or even a state to the PLC journey. Some are led to the path through a state or district initiative, others through the vision of their principal, others by a guiding coalition of teachers at their school. And some, like myself, discover the path through their individual journeys and growth as educators. The truth is that the ways educators come to the PLC journey are as numerous as the individuals on the path. However, one common influence we all share at the beginning of the journey is a prevailing sense of hope—the expectation and desire for something different, something that can change things for the better. Read more

Maybe It’s Time to Press the Reset Button

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There are many schools throughout the country that are committed to doing the “right work” and are demonstrating evidence of tremendous growth in both adult and student learning. There are many more schools, also with dedicated and hard-working educators, that have not been enjoying increased gains in student achievement and yet claim to be “doing PLCs.” Read more

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

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

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

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

21st Century PLC

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There is a great deal of talk in education these days about 21st Century learning. A quick Google search of this topic produces thousands of hits. Much of it focuses on 21st Century skills. These are often referred to as the ‘soft skills’ in education. According to much of the research and online discussion, these so-called ‘soft skills’ are really the skills students will be required to have in order to be successful both in school and in life beyond school. Read more

Getting Better at Getting Better

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As I paid visits to schools at the beginning of this year, a teacher sent a question through the principal, “ask her when we are going to be good enough”. I knew the question came from a place of frustration: more new standards, another change in assessments, new technology, and other national, state, and district demands. Yet, the question itself took me by surprise. I had thought the principle of continuous improvement was ingrained in who we are; that all staff understood this was one of our district’s core beliefs. Read more

Product Templates to Guide the PLC Process

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Becoming a highly effective collaborative team can look easy, but with some templates and guidance, teams may get just the boost they need to assist them in becoming part of an effective PLC school. Let’s presume your school has completed the challenging work of creating a shared mission, vision, values, and goals, and the culture of the school indicates readiness for the next steps in the PLC journey—the standardization of products, or for some templates to guide the work. 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