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

Put the “R” back into RTI by Reconnecting to the PLC at Work™ Model

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Many schools are frustrated by their attempts to answer Question 3 of the PLC at Work™ process, “How will we respond when students don’t learn it?” In many cases, this frustration is caused by the fact that they are attempting to answer Question 3 before answering Question 1, “What is it we want all students to know and be able to do?” In other words, what do we want all students to learn? 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 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

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

So, what’s changed?

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21st Century Skills require a balance of content and process. How have teaching and learning shifted to meet these demands?

James Melsa (2007) says it best, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist using technologies that haven’t yet been invented in order to solve problems we don’t even know we have.” We can no longer prepare students for our past, we must prepare them for their future. But what does this mean and where should we start? Read more

Changing the Oil Before the Journey - Routine Maintenance!

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Three critical questions for principals continuing on the PLC journey in 2016-2017 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

Doing It or Doing It Well? Using Data for Learning

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About five years ago, I decided that it was time to get in shape. An infomercial caught my eye and I found myself ordering a video program, weights, bands, nutritional guide, and pull-up bar while wating impatiently for my new life to begin. After the second day of inserting a DVD into my computer and following along, I realized this commitment was not going to be easy. With persistence, in about a month, I felt I was actually making progress and able to do the exercises. However, just as I began to swell with pride, I caught a glimpse of myself in the fireplace glass and gasped. While I thought I looked like the trainers on the DVD, I suddenly realized I wasn’t even close! Read more

New Year's Resolutions and PLC Goals

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How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Have you been making it to the gym? Eating more vegetables? Setting new goals at the beginning of the year is a great way to push ourselves . . . Read more

Should We Be Worried About Rigor?

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As schools across the country are digging more deeply into the work of the Common Core, teachers are beginning to understand why people are calling the standards more rigorous. Many teachers have . . . Read more

How Is Time Spent During Your Team Meetings?

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It was many years ago, and my elementary school was very large, over 2,000 students. There were 12 of us teaching third grade. We thought our survival depended on us working together. We met weekly . . . Read more