Blog

PLC Collaboration: District and School Leaders

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Our district went through an organizational reorg during the 2018-2019 school year. As we morphed into the school year, we wanted to work on improving PLCs. Each level in Jefferson County Schools has a team of district resource teachers to provide support for schools. We have been working with the schools on becoming highly effective PLCs. Our ELA resource teacher created a learning walk tool, PLC Check In, we could use when visiting collaborative teams. My administrative assistant and I looked at the weekly reports to monitor what was taking place during the week. Read more

Leading the PLC Journey at the District Office

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School districts have the unique opportunity and challenge of educating the diverse population they serve. We know there is compelling research on the impact that professional learning communities have on student achievement. As a result, shouldn’t all school districts take on the challenge of doing this work at the district level to ensure all of their schools are on this journey? 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

Are you a tutor or teacher?

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In one of the schools where I work, the principal once commented that it makes a difference if you believe yourself to be a tutor or a teacher. We discussed it further, and she shared her belief that living as a PLC helped pave the way for many of her teachers to make the shift. Read more

The Misunderstood Pillar

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Much in the same way that building a solid foundation is so critically important to any building, so is creating a solid foundation for a PLC at Work® school to stand upon. The authors of the PLC at Work process refer to this foundation as the Four Pillars. 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

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

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

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

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

Is Your PLC Journey Written in a Loose-Leaf Notebook?

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The basic and fundamental concepts of becoming a PLC are not found in a loose-leaf notebook where selected pages can be removed at will. You cannot take out the section on creating a mission & vision and throw it away. You cannot remove the page on developing team norms and set it aside. You cannot intentionally discard the pages on the importance of building shared knowledge and establishing a common vocabulary. There are no shortcuts to the PLC process. Essential elements cannot be ignored or dismissed because they are looked upon as being too elementary, too time consuming, or simply unnecessary. Read more

Dysfunctional Teams? Four Things that Don’t Help and One Thing that Does

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All the promise of a PLC is called into question when teams are dysfunctional. Therefore, there is no greater mandate for a school than addressing dysfunction and providing teams with the support they need to become more effective. So, what to do, then, when your team is just playing at being a PLC? What fixes are there for co-blab-eration? What can we do for teams that are earnestly pursuing the wrong path week after week? 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

Why Size Doesn’t Matter

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I have been blessed during the past 43 years to work in amazing school districts of all sizes—one as small as 600 students to one as large as 37,000 students. Time after time, school after school, district after district, we have learned size simply doesn’t matter for four main reasons. A highly functioning PLC continually examines and improves its capacity through four main elements: Organization, Execution, Persistence, and Celebration. Read more

Doing It or Doing It Well? Using Data for Learning

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About five years ago, I decided that it was time to get in shape. An infomercial caught my eye and I found myself ordering a video program, weights, bands, nutritional guide, and pull-up bar while wating impatiently for my new life to begin. After the second day of inserting a DVD into my computer and following along, I realized this commitment was not going to be easy. With persistence, in about a month, I felt I was actually making progress and able to do the exercises. However, just as I began to swell with pride, I caught a glimpse of myself in the fireplace glass and gasped. While I thought I looked like the trainers on the DVD, I suddenly realized I wasn’t even close! Read more