Blog

Coordinate, Manage, Lead

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These three words all have something to do with making something happen. Yet in the PLC at Work® culture, there are very important distinctions among those words that can have a profound impact on the way your building operates to ensure high levels of learning for all students. 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

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

PLC Teams Work Hand in Hand with Literacy

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Students aren’t databases or encyclopedias; they need to access and apply knowledge. Their literacy skills become the engine that drives their learning. Fortunately, the PLC at Work model helps collaborative teams discover this truth AND spark the professional growth that teachers need to improve, step-by-step over a career, as teachers of literacy. Read more

The Evolution of a Virtual Coach

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I was given a Framework for PLC Principals which included seven main topics which I approached as my curriculum therefore I had to be “tight” in that they must be the foundation of my sessions. How I planned each session gave me the autonomy or “looseness” to make it my own. 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

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

Does a Change in a School’s Leadership Always Result in a Change of Direction?

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As two of the three co-principals of Mason Crest Elementary School preparing to leave the first ever DuFour Award–winning school (2016), we do so with an extremely optimistic view for its future. This optimism transcends all of the emails that have inundated our inboxes, text messages that have been sent, and concerned conversations over the last few weeks; well-meaning comments like, “no one will ever be able to fill your shoes” or “what will happen to the culture and processes we have for our student and adult learning if the new principals don’t understand the Professional Learning Community at Work (PLC) process?” Many of these conversations with parents and staff revealed a palpable fear that the culture will change... Read more

It’s Not a Meeting; It’s a Way of Being!

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In her keynotes, Becky DuFour often uses the phrase "Clarity precedes competence!" Over the years we have heard the term/acronym "PLC" used in so many ways that it will be hard for schools and districts to be truly competent unless they are clear regarding the meaning of the Professional Learning Communities at Work process. If we continue to use the term "Professional Learning Community" (PLC) in the way that it is being used in many quarters, then it truly has lost its original meaning and influence. 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

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