Common Core Implementation in a PLC - Part 1 of 3
Part 1: Common Core Implementation in a PLC
A new school year has begun—the 33rd new school year for me. Every year holds great anticipation and excitement as we welcome back students. I finally stopped having the recurring nightmare of sleeping in on the first day of school or coming to school in my pajamas. I work with teachers who continue to have those first-day-of-school nightmares. But no one at our school is having nightmares about Common Core (CC) implementation. Instead, there is energy, confidence, and commitment among our teachers—they are ready for this new challenge of CC implementation.
So how did our teachers come to the point of not feeling overwhelmed by all the changes required in this transition to CC standards? Our district’s gradual transition plan was helpful to teachers; CC standards K–12 for language arts were implemented the first year (2011–12) except for sixth and ninth grades. Sixth grade implemented only math last year, while ninth grade implemented both math and language arts. Then this school year that scenario is reversed: sixth grade is adding language arts implementation and the other grades are adding math. The last phase for us is when secondary math adds Math 3 in 2013–14.
What helped our transition most is our commitment to use a professional learning community (PLC) framework districtwide to provide structure to our work. I personally cannot imagine any other way of conducting school than as a PLC. I’m now principal of a third school where I have led the PLC at Work™ process (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008). I have witnessed schools become great learning institutions for students, as well as the adults who serve students. The most powerful tool teachers have to help them with CC implementation is weekly PLC team collaboration time, where teachers meet for one hour to continue to unwrap CC standards, plan common formative assessments, analyze data, and plan a collective response when students don’t learn.
Of course there is some uneasiness as we navigate new waters in the CC, but there is overall excitement and commitment to this new venture on our journey to transform our schools into PLCs with CC standards.
DuFour, R., DuFour, R., & Eaker R. (2008). Revisiting professional learning communities at Work™: New insights for improving schools. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.