Blog

Assistants as Members of the PLC

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Schools across the country are generally staffed with highly trained professional administrators, teachers and content specialists. In my work assisting schools with building PLCs, the staff members closest to the instruction are usually the ones that first come to mind when discussing who the “professionals” are that make up a PLC. However, in my experience as a building principal, I very quickly realized that the work of instructional assistants can be crucial in helping a school meet goals and sustain success. Read more

What Does Hiring Look Like in a PLC?

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The most important decision you can make as a leader is who gets to join your team. This decision is even more critical when you are in the process of becoming a professional learning community. So, let’s look at your hiring practices through the lens of a PLC. Read more

The Most Important Interview Question I Bet You’ve Never Asked

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Let me start with a simple truth: There is no single decision made by the principal of a professional learning community more important than who to hire to fill vacancies on individual learning teams. After all, the teachers that you hire today are likely to be a part of your faculty—working with students, influencing colleagues, shaping decisions, impacting public relations—for years to come. Read more

The Case for Coaches in Professional Learning Communities

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Instructional coaching is a balancing act of working with teams to help ensure the fidelity of the three big ideas of a PLC and also provide the time and support to individual teachers who need it. If members of a collaborative team become worried about individual teacher performance, then they can get derailed from focusing on the four critical questions that should be guiding their work. 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

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

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

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

A Tsunami Is Headed for Higher Education

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A tsunami is headed directly for American public colleges and universities. The wave of discontentment with public K-12 schools that resulted in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is now lapping at the doors of public institutions of higher education. There are clear warning signs. One only has to look at the increasing number of books and articles that are critical of America’s colleges and universities. Books with titles such as The Moral Collapse of the University, The Closing of the American Mind, Profscam, The University in Ruins, and Our Underachieving Colleges consistently send the message that our colleges and universities are in disarray. 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

The Moment Everything Changes

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The first of the four critical questions of a Professional Learning Community process is, what is it we want our students to learn? This question underscores the need for teacher teams to identify . . . Read more

Leading With WHY

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When working with districts and schools, I’m often asked a question from site leaders something similar to this: “How do you get people to buy in to Professional Learning Communities? . . . Read more