Steve Pearce

Steve Pearce is assistant superintendent of human resources for Batavia Public Schools in Illinois. He is former principal of Jane Addams Junior High School and Margaret Mead Junior High School.

Team Meetings: Converting the Middle School to the PLC Middle School

In conversations with many middle school teachers and administrators over the last few years, I’ve noticed a certain perception and tension that exists when some middle schools are presented with the PLC at Work™ concept.  There is apprehension to embracing the model because some feel it doesn’t mesh with the middle school philosophy.

I’m here to tell you that while a school may have to adjust some middle school traditions, a school can be a PLC school AND a middle school.  And the best part is that if done properly, your school can be more successful in student achievement than ever before!

This belief is based on experience and the ability to embrace a concept that Jim Collins discusses in his book titled Built To Last.  Collins contends that high performing organizations do not succumb to the “Tyranny of the OR,” rather they embrace the “Genius of the AND.”  Relating this to the issue at hand, we must not look at this as a struggle of being a PLC OR a middle school.  Instead, we must believe that a school can be both a PLC AND a middle school.

The largest area of concern that has been communicated with me is that in order to “convert” to a PLC, the middle school would have to give up the staple of daily interdisciplinary (ID) team meetings in order to allow for time for course specific/departmental meetings (which supports the PLC big idea of creating high-performing collaborative teams).  While it is a fact that middle schools that embrace the PLC process must build in time for the department members to collaborate, there is still a place for ID teams to meet.  My personal belief based upon my experience as principal in two PLC schools (Margaret Mead Junior High and Jane Addams Junior High…both of which incorporate the middle school philosophy of PLC teaming), is that a school must determine the overall purpose for why these different groups of teachers meet.

So what is the purpose of the ID team and their daily meetings?

In the two schools that I’ve worked at (which are both listed on this site as exemplary PLC schools), the ID team meets for two purposes:

  1. Monitoring homework
  2. Supporting the social/emotional needs of its students

These are virtually the only two discussion items that our ID teams meet about.  While a middle school fundamentalist may be offended by the simplicity of this, the staffs that I’ve worked with have embraced it.  Having a limited purpose allows the group to be focused and efficient.

Let’s look at the other side of this shift: What is the purpose of a course specific/department team and their meetings?

In the two schools that I’ve worked in, the purpose of the course specific/department team is to engage in the process of answering these four questions (and these should look familiar):

  1. What do we want all kids to know?
  2. How do we know if they have learned?
  3. How will we respond if they haven’t learned?
  4. How will we respond if they have learned?

These are seemingly simple questions that will engage your teachers and have them begging for more time to meet to make decisions around these questions.  A true PLC school MUST provide time for course specific/departmental teams to meet.  Why?  Because it impacts student learning, which happens to be the central mission of schools.  Both schools that I’ve worked in have made this shift.  It has shifted to the point that we now devote more time to the course specific/department meetings then we do for the ID teams.  Guess what has happened?  Student learning and achievement has soared.  Failure rates have dropped. All standardized testing scores have gone up.  This is not a coincidence.  In fact, if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

The first big idea of the PLC at Work concept is a focus on learning.  Making the shift from only interdisciplinary team meetings to adding course specific/department meetings is critical if learning is going to be your school’s focus.  Our school staff would advocate that this shift has been a huge difference-maker in our student achievement growth.

To me, this all goes back to the purpose of your school.  If your purpose is to increase student learning, then your schedule (including time put aside for teacher collaboration) must reflect this purpose.  A middle school purist may cite a concern that this type of change will impact the “whole child.”  While I see this angle, I will contend that the two schools that I have been associated with have been able to systematically support the whole child needs of the middle level learner AND have been able to achieve the highest levels of learning in school history.  That is what a PLC middle school is all about.

The subject of the whole child tension will be discussed more in my next blog related to advisory and intervention.

Comments

MP

I completely agree that a Middle School needs to be more PLC minded. In order to stay on top of the students, and monitor their work, teachers need to be able to meet together and discuss grade level issues and students that are having trouble. The Middle School I am privileged to be apart of, has six different meetings during our six day cycle. The meetings all take place during the band and choir period in the morning. During this time we have faculty, pro-d, grade level team, collaboration, and advisory planning meetings. The meetings are very beneficial and give us a way to be in communication with each other about grade level issues and concerns. It also allows the teachers to get to know each other better, and make sure they are on the same page when working with the students.

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fizbansfireball

I find myself lucky in that my Middle School devotes time to team planning, grade-level planning, and subject planning. We sacrifice a lot of planning time for these meetings, but they give us the chance to set goals for individual students as well as entire grade levels. Plus, it allows me to interact with the teachers I would never see otherwise during the school day. The time sacrifice is big, but I like the rewarding, positive environment it creates.

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Aurandt

Last year was my first year teaching, and it was at the elementary level. This year, I was transfered to the Middle School, teaching 6th grade Learning Support.

I find that grade levels do meet a few times during the year, however, Special Education teachers are typically not invited. Personally, especially with inclusion in place, I feel that the special educationt teachers should have the same oppurtunity to speak with other teachers within the same grade level. I would also love to have a special education grade level meeting to discuss what is going on in other special education classrooms. It can be very frustrating not really having a "team" to talk with about issues within the classroom, especially with being a new teacher. The four questions within this article are wonderful questions that I would love to bring up with other special education teachers within the grade level I am teaching as well. This article inspired me to talk to my administrators on becoming more of a "PLC" school.

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Staff at AllThingsPLC.info

@sgalvani - Thanks for your comment! We sent it to PLC associate Dennis King, and he responded personally as follows:

The immediate benefit of collaboration is for the tween learner. Middle school students (as all students) are the benefactors of adults working together interdependently for increased efficiency, fairness and monitoring to develop a collective response for students throughout their learning. Additional payback for the teacher exists when teams build common knowledge and share the workload within the team. As collaboration is embedded and teachers are required to participate, not only will students experience increased success, but the adults work environment will become friendly and easier for teachers.

Multiple sources are available to aid the collaborative process and reinforce the need for collaboration in schools. The recent article by Rick DuFour in Kappan (February 2011), Work Together But Only if You Want To, creates the perfect foundation for collaboration as he discusses our role as professionals. The challenge over the past decade has been to move educators past personal conflicts to focus on the learning of students. Unfortunately, many educators have been part of poorly designed collaborative systems in which teams have functioned more as independent groups sharing opinions about everything within the school without building shared knowledge on the desired learning of students. Susan Sparks in the book, The Collaborative Teacher (2008, Solution Tree), indicates that conversations have focused more on the adult behaviors versus the student learning leading to resentment and divisiveness among teachers within the group. Therefore, teachers tend to become reclusive and return to the tradition of isolated teaching within the school.

In order to focus teams and drive collaboration for all teams (grade level or content based teams), we must shift our conversations towards the desired learning for all of our students. Therefore, the focus shifts from schools having islands of excellence within the school to creating teams of excellence throughout the school. This begins to eliminate the popular practice of isolation.

A common method utilized by many teams is to determine a desired proficiency level or level of mastery within a common unit in which they are teaching. As teachers come together to focus on the desired learning goal, the conversations switch from the non-desired adult conversation toward the desired student learning within the team. In order to reach the desired mastery for each unit, grade level or content-based, teams need to work interdependently towards the common unit goal. Collectively, as a team, the focus must be on the four essential questions of a PLC: 1) What do we want student to know, 2) How will we know they have learned?, 3) What will we do when they haven’t learned?, and 4) What will we do if they already know it? Focusing on the essential skills of a particular unit and setting mastery goals for that unit shifts the emphasis from personal behaviors to student results. This leads to an attitude of, “I cannot do this work without my colleague(s).”

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sgalvani

My middle school is taking tentative steps to explore adopting PLCs. I have to be nastily honest - the idea of collaborating with my grade-level colleague leaves me cold. Do you have recommendations for training or reading which might help me deal with someone who I don't have a lot of respect for?

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StevePearce

Keep me posted and best wishes on your pending PLC journey!!!

Steve

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StevePearce

This is a great question and very pertinent to some changes we made this year at my school with our schedule. Our math department came to us and told us that they were fine to just meet as a 7th grade and as a 8th grade because even though they were off at the same time, most of the time was spent in grade levels. So we will be running it that way this year which opened up our schedule a bit. Now, having said all of that, our entire math department is still able to meet once a month on the first Wednesday of the month during our early release time. I would not have done what they requested had they not had the ability to meet together as a math department once a month because there are things that they need to work on and discuss as a whole department. Again, I look at this as another example of the "Genius of the And". Teachers should have time to meet with their grade level AND their whole department. Maybe it's possible for your whole department to still meet at various inservice/institute/professional development times during the year as the vertical articulation between grade levels remains vital.

Let me know how things go.

Steve

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StevePearce

Let me know if you have further specific questions as I'd be happy to help!

Steve

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StevePearce

A couple of quick thoughts....


1. It is possible to make a schedule that allows for course-specific teams to meet. It may require a shift or change of thinking, but it can be done, and it can be done without additional staff and/or money. Both schools that I have been principal in have made this shift while losing staff and not gaining additional funds. But to do it does take work and a common belief in the main priorities of the school. Rick DuFour says, "Your schedule reveals your priorities." If your priority is to give time to allow teachers to collaborate, then a schedule will be made that will support this priority. It may not be perfect the first year, but in time, it will get better and better.

2. If you read through this blog in some of the earlier questions, I believe I touched some on dealing with people/staff who were hesitant to change. Let me know if you have further specific questions.

Steve

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StevePearce

I agree whole heartedly. Trust is huge in all relationships.

Steve

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jtorrence

I do not have an actual classroom of my own yet. I recently graduated from an university in Georgia and I am currently pursuing my masters degree. I am very pleased that I have had the opportunity to view different opinions about the effectiveness of PLC's. After reading the responses on this blog it is very clear that some oppose and some swear by it. The middle school that I interned at last year had PLC in the school but I do not think that it was implemented correctly. I found that many times meetings would be pointless because they never got around to the goal at hand. They went from talking about students, to their kids, to vacations, to complaining about admin.
Now that I see the proper way to present it, maybe I can initiate it in the school that I will teach at or hopefully, it will be already in affect and I can participate. I am looking forward to working in a PLC.

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jamooc

This will be my district's second year of PLC's. Last year we were placed in them by department and this year it is assigned by subject, grade level, and section you are teaching. I think that there are pro's and con's to this. While our administration has done a great job changing our schedule so our plc's will have time 4 days a week to meet for 45 minutes, i am afraid by being so specific with your PLC's communication in the department might be lost. Has anyone had this set up where they meet only in the section and grade level they teach? I do think PLC's are great in our first year we created department learning objectives and really got on page with each other as teacher so that all students were coving the same content and were testing at the same times. This let us offer tutoring and special study groups in our duty time so the kids that were struggling had a remedial class for the most part. While others review. Meeting with each other we came up with new strategies on how to reach our challenging students. Also, we did a great job of commending a teacher for a job well done. My experience with our plc's were great. Still new. But, I am looking forward to working on improving our plc's, just a little curious about how it being this specific will play out.

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tripps04

In the middle school at I work at, we used PLC's last year at the grade level. We met weekly and began by creating norms for our group, as well as long-term and short-terms goals that the group would focus on. As an 8th grade teacher we worked to create a smoother transition for our students into high school. For the first time in 15 years, the middle school and high school teachers sat down together to discuss concerns, suggestions, and create an orientation to introduce the students to their new school.

Based on what I have learning about PLC's, I do not believe that our school has created effective groups overall. The 8th grade group was probably the most effective. I look forward to the ideas posted on this blog and other information from the website that I will be able to share with my principal and co-workers.

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LisaDFletcher

Today was our first day back to school with our students. Even with the inconvenience of not have class schedules until late last night, our day went far better than any I can remember in my teaching experience. This change is largely due to a change in administration; we have a new principal, vice principal, and SRO. They brought with them new ideas and a willingness to listen to suggestions that would afford us a positive change. It’s a good start, but I would like to see us follow the path of becoming a “PLC school.”

Just last night I was speaking with our academic coach concerning our past PLC meetings; I asked questions like, “How are decisions made regarding the focus of our PLC meetings.” “Is there anyway teachers from the same content areas can meet more frequently to discuss best practices and ways to overcome learning obstacles suffered by some student.” My thoughts came from reflecting on a science workshop held early in the summer. Teachers from various school districts and all grade levels (k-12) were present. Because of our ability to share obstacles and best practices, the workshop produced far more than was initially intended. Although my academic coach agreed these meetings would be beneficial, she said it would not be possible, because of lack of teacher time and the funding it would require to bring the teachers together. I agreed these issues would be hurdles to overcome; however, the bigger issue is evident within our middle school. There is an unwillingness among some teachers to invest in collaborating to strive for better teaching skills and ultimately, better learning environments for the students. Even when they are approached by younger teachers requesting their guidance, they seem to hold back and provide the minimum amount of effort possible to satisfy the request.

Surely, schools that are now considered to be “PLC schools” have experience where we are now. I would appreciate insight into how your school(s) jumped the hurdles to reach the levels of success you and many others have written about in various blogs and books.

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blawson

PLC's all boil down to trust. If there is not an established amount of trust involved then true openess will not occur. People within the PLC will begin to feel isolated. For example, "I never have that problem before, it must just be you." I have been involved in PLC's where similar comments have been made. If you are a 1st year teacher or a seasoned veteran you still need to have someone walk along side of you encouraging and supporting you along the way. Best of luck! It can be done! One thing I realized, is PLC's do not have to fit a particular mold. They can be a group of peers (who are also friends) that come along side you. Most of us have those, and in it's purest forms those are PLC's.

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Laurel Westby

I enjoyed reading your blog. You made it sound so easy to get started as a PLC and you did it for the right reasons - to help all the students. I liked your two purposes when meeting about students: monitoring homework and supporting the social/emotional needs of students. These two areas relate well to the four questions about students in a PLC program.

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cbow

I found this blog intriguing. I have worked at a middle school that has been implementing PLC's for a few years now. We are still trying to work it out and I found your ideas helpful. I plan to take your advice back to my department to see if we can make things more meaningful. Thank you.

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raemarie

Hi, I work at an intermediate school that has recently "tried to departmentalize", but with little success. Currently, I informally meet with teachers who teach the same subjects as me, but little gets accomplished. We are meeting during our free time, and we often end up off topic. I end up leaving frustrated. I am going into my third year of teaching, and I would really like to bring the PLC model to our school. Any suggestions on how to make this happen without offending any of my collegues (since I'm the new kid on the block)?

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StevePearce

I love it!!! Makes sense doesn't it. Let us know how your progress goes and keep up the great work!!!

Steve

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StevePearce

1. Develop Norms

Research has proven that a team will not be successful if they do not establish and hold each other accountable to norms. Norms are simpley committments made by each team member on how they will behave in the team setting. I suggest that you all start by listing what frustrates you in meetings. You will easily be able to come up with many things that frustrate or annoy you. Then take those and turn them into a positive statement. For instance, I don't like when others come in late to meetings. My time is valuable. A norm could be established: Be on time to all team meetings. Have the team collaborate and decide on 6 to 8 norms and then commit to following them. THe easy part is establishing the norms. The tough part is actually following them or having "the culture of discipline" to confront when people are not following them. This must happen.

2. Have a goal as a team.

I've stated this above, but you are not a team if you don't have a goal you are working towards. That is key. Do not meet just to meet and check it off the list.

3. Have an agenda

Meetings with no agendas are terrible in my opinion. Meetings must have a focus and agendas can direct that. Have on person responsible to collect from team members agenda items each week or have a standard agenda.

Lastly, I believe that bad meetings reflect poor leadership all the way to the top. As a principal, one of my top priorities is to make sure that ALL of our team meetings are effective and NO ONE is walking out thinking "that was a waste of my team". Leadership needs to take it personally.

Steve

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StevePearce

If I'm reading this correctly, you currently don't have department time to meet because you are an elective and the schedule doesn't support regular meeting times for you and your colleagues. If I have that right, I suggest the following:

1. Meet with your colleagues at some point when you can and develop a goal or rationale for why you should meet. This goal or rationale obviously has to impact student learning.

2. Take some time to present this goal or rationale to your admin team so that they understand that you want to and can make a significant contribution to supporting learning at your school.

3. When time is given for this to happen, make it count as a team. Determine ways to assess what you are doing so that you can display to your admin team the difference in learning that this collaborative time is making.

In this instance, I encourage you to be proactive in making this happen as opposed to playing the victim role and complaining about the situation. It sounds like you are already this way, but I believe it's an important distinction in regards to convincing your admin to make this adjustment.

Let me know what you think.

Steve

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DuranTorrez

I have been working as a middle school science teacher for the past couple years and our school has gone through a shift with PLC's. One thing that I noticed is the big shift toward meeting with content specific teachers more often than with whole grade levels. I thought that this shift definitely help my science students because of the increased time spent with other science teachers. We were able to create common assessments and monitor student progress a lot more effectively than in the previous year.

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StevePearce

Good luck and let me know how things go!

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StevePearce

I truly believe that a healthy PLC team will always want more time. Once a group becomes a team and focuses on the right things, teams will will always want more time to get better, improve their craft, and support students.

Having said that, my simple advice is to carve out an hour a week for you collaborative team to meet. When starting the PLC journey in my first job as principal, that's all we had and it did make a difference. But again, once your team understands what this whole PLC thing is about, you will be seeking more time to meet...it's part of the development.

Hope that helps you.

Steve

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chris2312

How were the teams organized and structured in a way that all teachers were actively engaged in the discussions? We have grade level team meetings on a regular basis, but it seems that too often these meetings turn into a gossip or complaint session, and less on what can be done constructively. Any suggestions?

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claylil

I think that my school attempts PLC's in part, but definitely has room for improvement. I know that teams in my school meet interdisciplinary by grade level (some of the meetings each week focus on students that need support), and that they have weekly departmental meetings, but as a member of the arts/language/physical education team, my team is left out. At times, it is requested that we do things to support the ELA/math/science/social studies classes, but our team is more of an afterthought or seen merely as support, instead of a group of teachers who could make significant contributions to students' learning by adding to the interdisciplinary lessons. I want to be more involved in the collaboration, but the interdisciplinary meetings take place while I am teaching. I have talked to individual teachers about what they are doing in their classes and have received email updates about what was discussed about student concerns (from only one grade level), but it's not the most effective way to collaborate. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to get more involved?

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rflor

I have found this blog very helpful. I am a new teacher at an inner-city middle school, and we are in the process of adding PLC meetings. I found the posted information helpful - it will get us off to a good start. A few fellow science teachers felt that they were not sure what to do....I now feel more confindent in our meetings - we need goals, and topics to discuss/explore. Collaborate as a group, and help each other! I will definetly bring to the table the 4 purpose questions. Thank you!

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SusanB

I have been a member of top-down mandatory meetings and can testify to their ineffectiveness with regard to student learning. With the support of our head of school, my colleague and I would like to start department team meetings in my middle school. We know that we may experience resistance from some, but the trial period idea from PurdyR seems like a valid tactic. Our hope however is to model a collaborative approach that others will want to follow. I appreciate the simplicity of the four questions to keep us focused to the task at hand – learning. Acknowledging that setting aside regular time is crucial but also challenging, I’m curious as to recommendations with regard to the length and frequency of our meetings.

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StevePearce

Let me know how it goes!

Steve

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StevePearce

That's great to hear. Glad your team meetings are effective and making a difference. Your team meeting structure is one of the best examples I have heard of in a school in the United States, so be grateful for what you have. Do your colleagues agree with you on wanting an additional ID team time? Maybe you could ask your admin team to consider meeting with ID team on Tues/Thurs with course specific teams meeting on Mon/Wed/Fri?

Sounds like you work in a school with a great schedule for teacher meeting times...now you have to make that time work to help ALL kids learn!!!

Steve

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StevePearce

My first instict is to say that your teams need a purpose...a goal. Teams that meet just to meet will undoubtedly fall apart and most adults will end up resenting meeting at all...I would. So first things first...why are you meeting? That must be determined. Since we are a school, the purpose MUST be regarding student learning. Once the goal is decided the team must decide how they will get there:

1. What do we want all kids to learn?
2. How will we know if they have learned it?
3. If they aren't learning, how will we support them?
4. If they are learning, how can we extend or enrich the learning?

I know this is repetitive, but this is not overly complex.

I hope that helps some and I answered your question properly.

Steve

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StevePearce

It's a fact that many people dislike change and will resist it despite proof that what we are advocating for is best practice and improves overall student learning.

I've had experience with implementing PLC's and being concerned regarding some people not embracing. But, I've been in a position of leadership...which may be a much different angle than what you are talking about JM.

With that, I would suggest the following:

1. Provide a clear rationale for why this change must happen. Are all of your students learning? Are all of them at grade level? Are they all getting guarenteed systems of support? Asking questions like these can lead to some good dialogue with those that are fearful of change.

2. Relationships are key in any change effort. Michael Fullan's research on this clearly supports this. Take time to understand your colleagues. Maybe they have legitimate rationales for whey they resist change. My personal opinion and observation is that we as educators have turned many people off to change because we start something and don't see it through properly or support it. Then we give up and start something different and support it poorly again. In essence, we've trained people to resist change because it hasn't been done well. Seek to understand "why" there is resistance.

3. Make sure you start small. You probably have a natural grade level team. Do you have a goal? If you don't have a goal that is directly tied to student learning (the mission of schools) then I would argue that you are not a team. Then determine how you will reach the goal.

4. Leadership matters. Is your admin team invested in PLC's? It will help if they are because some will not (no matter how great a case we make, how great the relationships are, and no matter how small we start)jump in without a little kickstart from their supervisor. Change research does show that the best way to implement change is to first change the behaviors, and then the attitude will change once results are seen. You will most likely need some support in this area.

Ok, there were a few tidbits for you. Rick DuFour does a breakout session at most PLC Institutes around this subject...would be worth your while to check it out if you can!

Steve

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jpate33

I am a graduate student, and a substitute teacher. I fellt this type of collaboration durig my internship for my BA classes;it was in an elementary school.The team teachers ate lunch together and talked about various topics of what strategy worked, what areas of weakness the students were struggling with, and what to do to help certain studnets who were having a hard time learning the content or social skills. I will mention the PLC to a few colleaues who work in the middle schools to see if they see this type of atmosphere in their school. I think the ID team concept will help any school, and is a great concept.

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Lnathanson

In my school, we have PLC meetings Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday for 40 minutes during the school day. On Thursday we have an ID meeting for 40 minutes. I love having the time to meet with my team of teachers but I would love to meet with my ID team more than once a week. I think it would really help to boost academic achievement.

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ChrisCarpenter

No matter what you do, there are always going to be individuals who resist (often for the simple sake of resisting). After working at two different schools that have implemented PLC's I would say that your best bet is to offer research that points towards the benefits for staff and students for doing PLC's. Here is why I say this.

The first school I worked at implemented PLC's with military vigor. We were told when to meet, how it should look, what would be completed, etc. It was top-down, but forced, and the staff had no choice. Of course, many staff members resisted. Though good conversations came out over the years, there was a general feeling of resentment by the staff for being forced into another educational game.

The second school I was at took another approach. They had a speaker (who's name is slipping me now) who came in to talk about what PLC's were and how they had changed their school. The school had a very similar demographic to us, and it was encouraging to see ho it had changed them. This led to conversations amongst the staff into whether this would work for us. Eventually the staff decided to implement PLC's into that years agenda. It is still in its infancy but is going much better than at my previous school.

Both situations were a top-down approach. However the second allowed for much more by in than the "do this now" approach. The second gave the staff the feeling that they had a choice and PLC's were the best option, even if the administration is who brought in the speaker and had already set up a schedule that allowed for teacher collaboration in preparation for PLC's.

So good luck setting them up, I hope this helps in your decision of how to go about it.

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PurdyR

jmulkerin,

I have attended a few of the PLC conferences, and I always attend one or two workshops that deal with that exact question. I am eager to see what Mr. Pearce has to say in response.

What I got out of it was there will always be those who are in opposition, but it starts from the top. When the district leaders are using PLCs to work together to improve the district, the administration team are also using and supporting the PLC concept, those who are against “trying another thing” will fall into place with majority of the faculty who do believe that PLCs are what is best for all.

Dr. Richard DeFour was a keynote speaker at one of the conferences and spoke about how “Hollywood” has encouraged the philosophy of working in isolation. I had an AHA moment during his speech. He questioned the group about how many movies they had seen where a team of teachers helped a student succeed. As he paused and looked throughout the crowd you could see all the conference attendees scrambling trying to think of even one example. He was right.

After leaving the conference that day a few of my colleagues and I were reflecting on those in our department, school, and district that we knew were going to put up a hard fight to be an active member in a PLC. A few solutions that we came up with were: moving forward with the PLC concept and giving them the time to come to realization on their own, or telling them about a trial period (created the first unit of lessons, activities, assessments, meetings, reflections, etc for about a month and again allow them to see the significant decrease in their individual workload and the increase in student understanding).

The approach that has worked best in my PLC is the trial period scenario. It becomes second nature to do things together once you are working in a PLC. The students appreciate not only your class, the content, but the school as a whole because they can see that everyone is heading to the same goal (they are not just saying they are).

PurdyR

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mbarksdale

I have worked in a PLC middle school and the structure was good. The only issue with our school was the fact that we as teachers did not know what to discuss in meetings. We had meetings twice a week for both PLC and ID. I felt as though we did not take advantage of the time that the school had given us to create plan for our students. Our facilitators did not have the knowledge on PLC to guide us in the direction needed for productive meetings. Has anyone work at a school that met successfully? What advise would you give?

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jmulkerin

I am a graduate student who currently teaches in an elementary school. I may be moving to the junior high this fall, and I find the information on PLC's very interesting. I would like to implent this process in our school, but I fear certain individuals will not embrace the concept. Any suggestions on getting fellow colleagues on board?

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StevePearce

Llynwalton,

Sounds like your site is progressing well and that is great to hear. As for the other sites that have ID team meetings, keep in mind that there is place in the PLC middle school for both ID teams and course-specific teams. That is the beauty of the Genius of the And!! Please post further questions or ideas that you have.


Steve

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StevePearce

DBM,

Again, keeping it simple, our team lists the students they have concerns with, discuss strategies, and set up an action plan. The social worker assigned to the grade level is present and any further intervention from these services are discussed also. Really, the only specific task they are required to do is to have an agenda with students to discuss, to problem solve, and to have a plan to support the child moving forward. They also put the child back on an agenda to revisit a few weeks later.

I believe it's very important to keep this simple and not overcomplicated...the task is to support the child, not fill out some form that has no meaning!

Steve

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llynwalton

The course alike team work is the hardest work we have ever done! We do have time in our meeting schedules to coordinate ID meetings, and yes, those meetings are often limited to discussion of the 2 topics you have mentioned. That being said, we have been able to incorporate what we know about kids' domain specific performance (from common assessment data) which has led to interesting ID conversations regarding what kind of interventions any particular kiddo may need be it affective or academic. I'd say that was somewhat closer to a whole child approach.

I also should share that our site was not in "houses" or "teams" when we started our PLC journey, so there wasn't really the kind of conversion you wrote about (that is not to say there wasn't a conversion that had to take place, just not the type covered in your piece). However, other sites that do have ID teams as a central function of the school have pushed back quite hard believing they would have to change what they do. They seem to believe they would provide less services to their kids if "only" meeting in course alike teams, and perhaps have pushed aside the fundamental ideas of PLC's. Very much looking forward to learning more! Thanks!

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DougBinMentor

Curious about how the ID teams support the social/emotional needs of their students and whether you are requiring teams to engage in specific tasks? I like the minimizing of the responsibilities of those teams and can imagine that teachers appreciate that. Could use some fresh thoughts and ideas on this. Thanks in advance!

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