Blog

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

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

Data Moments

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Collaborative teams engage in professional learning when they focus on the results of their own efforts. In a professional learning community, data from team-developed common assessments serve as the linchpins of success. Too often, however, teams are bogged down by data: the data set is too big, the opportunities for gathering the data are too sparse (just one or two common assessments in a quarter), the organization of the data is too time-consuming, the meeting time to discuss the results is too short, etc. For these many reasons, teams often confess they spend more time planning their efforts than examining the results of their efforts. Planning isn’t bad; it just isn’t sufficient in a professional learning community. Healthy and productive teams always examine the impact of their best-laid plans. 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

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

Q&A: Rick DuFour’s Response to a Question on Formative Assessment

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Last week, educate4life posted the following comment on Grading Formative and Summative Assessments by Rick DuFour: I am new to this forum but stumbled upon this thread. I am a high school mathematics teacher... Read more

Our State Adopted the Common Core Standards—Now What?

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Many schools and districts that have been implementing the PLC process are now wondering how to respond to the new Common Core Standards that their states have adopted. They’ve worked hard to . . . Read more

Moving School Improvement Into the Classroom With SMART Goals

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School districts across the United States are faced with improving achievement for all students. The complexity of this issue has resulted in the expansion of organized walkthroughs taking place . . . Read more

A Powerful Tool for Student and Teacher Learning

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I remember early in my leadership constantly assessing where we were as a school and setting goals for where we needed to go as a school. With a clear vision in mind, we would chart incremental . . . Read more

Are Your Assessments Good, Not So Good, or . . . Great?

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“What does a good formative assessment look like?” “Can you please show us some examples?” These are the types of questions that often surface as collaborative teams in PLC schools delve into the work of... Read more

Teaching vs. Learning: How Assessment Informs Instruction

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One of the most overlooked and understated aspects of the common formative assessment process and the role these assessments play in a professional learning community has to be the degree to which . . . Read more

Prerequisites for Standards-Based Reporting

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As we work with schools and teams that are doing the work associated with implementing professional learning community concepts and practices, we are often asked, “Don’t we need to . . . Read more

What Do We Do When They Haven’t Learned?

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The implementation of a PLC is not a silver bullet, but a pathway to follow in working to ensure student learning. Implementation requires dedication and a focus on desired learning outcomes as teams work to answer the four key questions that guide a PLC... Read more

Eliminating Bias in Grading: Teachers Collaborate on Student Assessments

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The work of a professional learning community team is never done. Instead, teachers continuously navigate the world of standards, assessments, interventions, and extensions, using inquiry in an informed way to improve student learning. They begin a journey that becomes… Read more

How PLCs Use Assessments

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We received a series of questions from a school grappling with developing common assessments. I summarized the questions and attempted to provide a brief response for each… Read more