Blog

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

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

Celebrating and Curating for Curriculum Alignment

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Curriculum alignment is important. It is essential to ensuring rigorous learning for all and appropriate vertical and horizontal articulation. Curricular alignment requires assessment and instruction to be aligned to standards, including the intended rigor of the standard. It ensures that students have a clear, cohesive experience from year to year and leads to a guaranteed and viable curriculum. While many educators see the value in this work, it isn't necessarily something that many look on as an exciting or worthwhile experience. 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

A PLC Love Letter to the Left-Brained, Linear Thinker

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My Dearest Left-Brained Friends, Two years ago I began my quest to be Dad of the Year; if not on the planet, at least in my own home. My hero, my father, was turning 60 years old and his life-long dream was to visit Disney World before he was too old to enjoy it. With three young girls of my own, a family trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth” seemed like the perfect opportunity to celebrate my dad and show my daughters that they too could be a princess one day. 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

Lessons for Life as Well as for Education

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Those of us who have been reading Rick Dufour’s Caring Bridge blogs about his journey through the highs and lows of cancer and its treatment options have been struck by his eloquence and his honesty about life and living it to the fullest. In the entry dated November 30, 2016 Rick talks about the need to develop a “willingness to change one’s perspective” when responding to the new normalcies that cancer creates. Read more

Collective Inquiry and Building Shared Knowledge

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One of the factors that makes the PLC at Work model unique is the emphasis on building shared knowledge and building the professional capacity of practitioners. The traditional school model featured individual development, and the PLC model supports collective development. In fact, one of the key principles of the model is that learning for educators is the key to improving student learning (DuFour, DuFour et al. 2016). One of the most important responsibilities of a school leader is to invest in the capacity of those who influence student learning. In the PLC process, we call this activity Collective Inquiry. 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

Building Trust

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One of the more frequent questions that we receive from teacher and administrative teams as they begin the PLC journey is this: “How can we possibly plan, implement, assess, and reflect . . . Read more

Opening Doors Leads to Greater Learning

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This past month I have been working with collaborative teams to answer the second question of a professional learning community, “How will we know when they have learned the content?” (DuFour, Eacker, & DuFour, 2008). The teachers are analyzing more than how many students got the correct answer on a common assessment; they are focused on students’ depth of understanding of the content. Teams are analyzing student thinking and the habits of mind aligned to the essential learning standards. These often come from the process standards in content areas that describe the habits of mind teachers must develop in their students (e.g., ELA Capacities, Mathematical Practices, and Science Practices). (CCSS0, 2010 & NGSS, 2013). Read more

Four Ways to Stop Ignoring the Forgotten Fourth Critical Question of a PLC

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One of the first pieces of common vocabulary educators acquire when learning about Professional Learning Communities are the four critical questions. These questions serve as both a big picture . . . Read more