Blog

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

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

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

Harnessing the Collaborative Power of the Four Critical Questions of a Professional Learning Community

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With so many demands on curricular teams these days collaborative time can quickly be sacrificed for coordination tasks such as scheduling events, casual dialogues of best practice, rote test modifications, and adjusting curricular pacing guides, to name a few. This kind of collaboration tends to produce shallow curricular changes, narrow instruction adjustments, non-timely remediation, and superficial assessment modifications. 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

Gaining Ground for Students with Special Needs: Honor their Abilities and Strengths

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Tailoring instruction for students with special needs is often the most challenging instructional demand for collaborative teams to navigate. Teachers want their students to feel successful, yet . . . Read more

“We Used to Do PLCs. Now We’re Doing Common Core!”

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Recently while attending a gathering of educators, I overheard a conversation between two teachers with one declaring, “Last year, we were doing professional learning communities, but this . . . Read more

Driven by DIVAS (Data, Instruction, Varied Assessments, and Supports)

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How do educators focus on improving student achievement when demographics and performance challenges seem insurmountable? The teachers at Licking Heights High School recently addressed this . . . Read more

Is It Worth It? Sharing Data From Successful PLCs

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As we speak about professional learning communities, we know that excitement for student learning is palpable. It is impossible to not be jazzed when we speak about all students learning at high . . . Read more

Riverside County Office of Education Uses PLCs to Support Special Education

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The Riverside County Office of Education was awarded the 2010 Golden Bell Award for the implementation of professional learning communities to support students with severe disabilities. The . . . 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

Wide Range of Abilities

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This is the time of year when we move into interview mode in schools. Having just exited one of these, something the candidate said caused an aha! moment for me. The question to the candidate had to do with… Read more