Developing a Shared Mission
The first challenge of a professional learning community (PLC) is the development of the pillars of a PLC: shared mission, shared vision, shared values, and shared goals. Working with schools across the county, I have seen that educators frequently ignore this essential step. But through my experience as an administrator in two schools on the PLC journey, I have seen first-hand the value of the PLC pillars.
Larry Lezotte, the architect of the Effective Schools model stated: “You cannot hold people accountable for what you have not made explicit.” Leaders who support their staff in the development of a set of guiding principles have the proper platform for holding everyone accountable for those explicitly identified behaviors.
The collaborative development of the pillars of a PLC can improve clarity of purpose, focus of collaboration, and allocation of resources. This process requires educators to ask some deep and fundamental questions:
- What is the purpose of our school?
- Who are our students?
- What are their strengths and needs?
- How can our collective efforts improve the quality of their education and the quality of their lives?
- What are we collectively willing to commit to and sacrifice?
- What specific indicators of progress will we track to ensure we are making progress in meeting the needs of our students?
When these questions lead to commitments that are published and made public, they can be powerful forces in guiding behavior. In chapter 8 of my book Transforming School Culture, I explore the impact of a defined focus on learning on school culture. Schools that have a well-defined and universally accepted school purpose tended to have healthier cultures, decreased staff turnover, and higher levels of workplace satisfaction.
Have you developed a school or district purpose that is clear, concise, and applied? If so, how has it affected your PLC journey? If not, what is your plan to develop one? It is difficult to evolve into a high-performing PLC if the pillars are skipped or disregarded.