Blog

On What Kind of PLC Journey Are You: Learning...or Doing?

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Becoming a PLC is a journey of transformation. It requires that we nurture and cultivate a collaborative culture anchored around a shared commitment of one thing: learning. However, it is amazing how many times I see folks engaged in what they believe to be the work of a collaborative team in a professional learning community. Yet, through their conversations about their work, they demonstrate the only thing that has really changed is what they call their meeting time. Read more

The Forgotten Question

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If Dufour, Dufour, Eaker, Many, and Mattos wrote that professional learning communities have four essential questions to answer, there must be a good reason. Of course, there is a good reason: all four questions are essential. All four questions need to be answered to ensure all students are learning at the highest level possible. Read more

Are you a tutor or teacher?

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In one of the schools where I work, the principal once commented that it makes a difference if you believe yourself to be a tutor or a teacher. We discussed it further, and she shared her belief that living as a PLC helped pave the way for many of her teachers to make the shift. Read more

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

The Misunderstood Pillar

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Much in the same way that building a solid foundation is so critically important to any building, so is creating a solid foundation for a PLC at Work® school to stand upon. The authors of the PLC at Work process refer to this foundation as the Four Pillars. 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

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

Do the Right Work: Develop Your PLC Road Map

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Highly-effective PLCs understand that collaboration is inherently neutral, and for the process to generate outcomes, collaborative teams must do the right work with a results orientation. The key is getting tight on the right things. Toward that end, schools and districts must remain focused on the following essential questions to promote accountability and ensure reciprocal accountability. Read more

The Beauty of the PLC Process

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The beauty of the PLC process is that the more our educators learn about best practices and implement those practices, the more our students will learn and grow. Over the past couple of years, we started to see an uptick in unwanted behaviors in our school. The great thing about reaching out to my entire staff was that I had several people who had previous experience implementing the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) process. 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

What is Your Why?

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Many efforts at school improvement have been stymied despite the best intentions of those involved. Once schools are in the thick of things, and the change efforts schools are engaged in begin to inevitably face challenges and the initial excitement begins to wane, schools will be faced with a decision. Do we continue to push forward, despite the difficulties we are facing, or do we go back to what we have always done and what is, in many ways, easier? Read more