Blog

Starting the PLC Journey

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There are many paths that lead an educator, a school, a district, or even a state to the PLC journey. Some are led to the path through a state or district initiative, others through the vision of their principal, others by a guiding coalition of teachers at their school. And some, like myself, discover the path through their individual journeys and growth as educators. The truth is that the ways educators come to the PLC journey are as numerous as the individuals on the path. However, one common influence we all share at the beginning of the journey is a prevailing sense of hope—the expectation and desire for something different, something that can change things for the better. Read more

Your Circle of Influence in a PLC

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You might be wondering, “What is my Circle of Influence when it comes to the PLC process?” The innermost Circle of Influence for the teacher is the classroom and the students within it. It is in that circle that a teacher can and should be accountable to answer the four critical questions of learning. Read more

Why This, Why Now, Why Bother

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One question I am often asked by classroom teachers is, “Why should we care about PLCs, Bill?” We are almost always skeptical when our bosses bring something new back to our building and try to convince us that it is worth investing in. But when they are done right, PLCs answer my three why questions better than anything I’ve seen in over 25 years of full-time teaching. Read more

Maybe It’s Time to Press the Reset Button

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There are many schools throughout the country that are committed to doing the “right work” and are demonstrating evidence of tremendous growth in both adult and student learning. There are many more schools, also with dedicated and hard-working educators, that have not been enjoying increased gains in student achievement and yet claim to be “doing PLCs.” 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

Compound Interest: Use it Today with PLCs

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Albert Einstein is said to have stated that “compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” Compound interest is the addition of interest to the principal sum. By reinvesting interest, the base grows larger and when that base grows again by a percentage, the amount of growth is compounded. In this blog you’ll learn how the universal power of compound interest and PLCs can shape your school. Read more

Educators as Change Agents

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Change is hard! The funny thing is, one of the reasons I’ve stayed in education for 20 years and gravitated towards working with adults on school improvement is that I yearn to be an agent of change. Nobody likes it when change is thrust upon them, but I do love making change happen. Read more

The Power of Going Vertical

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A great deal of our work to improve student learning is accomplished through powerful conversations at the team level. Collaborative teams answer the guiding question, “What do we want students to know and do?” by identifying essential standards and examples of proficiency in those standards. Read more

Getting Better at Getting Better

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As I paid visits to schools at the beginning of this year, a teacher sent a question through the principal, “ask her when we are going to be good enough”. I knew the question came from a place of frustration: more new standards, another change in assessments, new technology, and other national, state, and district demands. Yet, the question itself took me by surprise. I had thought the principle of continuous improvement was ingrained in who we are; that all staff understood this was one of our district’s core beliefs. 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

Are You On A “Learning By Labeling” Journey?

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You can call your goat a chicken, but you won’t be eating eggs for breakfast! You may be thinking…what the heck does that mean? Quite simply put, changing the label does not change the outcome! We all should be able to agree with that statement, and yet, I am amazed at how many times I encounter settings where labels change, but practice does not. 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

Progress or Procrastination?

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I received a question regarding the timetable a school had established to implement the PLC process. According to the proposed timetable, this high school would devote one school year to helping . . . Read more