Liberty Hill Intermediate
- Number of Students: 620
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 24.6%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 2.6%
- Percent of Special Education: 9.7%
- White: 77.7%
- Black: 0.9%
- Hispanic: 19.3%
- Asian: 0.4%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.2%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.4%
- Multiracial: 1.1%
- Other: 0%
Our PLC journey began in 2007 when then campus principal Kathy Major attended a workshop at Region 13 over professional learning communities. She was drawn to and moved by the idea of collaborative teams and how that could impact student learning. The process was slow to take off because teachers were skeptical about the idea or if they met there were not educational talks taking place. The process started to turn as more and more teachers went to trainings and brought information back to the campus. We all know that peers learn from peers and as they started to discuss PLC's amongst each other it was more effective than an administrator asking for it to be implemented.
Fast forward 10 year later and we now have every team on campus as fully functioning collobrative team. I have built into the schedule common planning times for each grade level subject area where each department can meet three times a week during the school day for fifty minutes at a time to plan and collaborate. We start every meeting off with the reading of the team’s norms, and then go to celebrations, followed by curriculum. The teachers plan backwards for all of their formal and short term assessments. Our short term assessments are usually around 5-8 questions that give the students and the teacher’s immediate feedback if learning is taking place in the classroom. We have shifted our focus from all students will pass the standardized test, to all students will learn and grow and reach a progress monitor of a two on the state test. Which means that they have exceeded expected growth and are on pace to be back on grade level. We have implemented power reading and power math for our RTI process. Every teacher that teaches reading or math has a power class to help students who are not learning, and then we have built in maker space classes with our Science and Social Studies teachers. These are classes that allow students who have learned the material to explore deeper concepts of learning through one prompt lessons where they have to figure out solutions and then finally the outcome within a team, and collaborate to solve the lesson.
Other items we have implemented to ensure student learning:
- Advisory period for enrichment (Students have the oppurtunity everyday to go to any of their teachers classes and recieve tutroing or assistance on work)
- Self-assessment for students on projects and assignments
- Regular feedback from teacher
- Regular student reflection on all assignments
- Self-monitored student growth & mastery
- Open-ended products that allow student choice and creativity
- Teacher as learning coach and facilitator vs. deliverer of content
- Interactive student notebooks
- Data driven best practices
- Peer evaluations where each teacher visits a class in their subject, their grade level, out of their subject, out of their grade level and in specials
- Video lessons that allow students to access the material at home and learn at their own rate by fast forwarding or rewinding
The teachers have embraced being on a collabrotive team as a sacred process that will not be compromised by any other meetings. During the summer I felt that we needed a re-charge and help train new staff to the campus in the every important PLC model. We contracted Region 13 to come do an all-day training with the teachers to help build continuity and consistency throughout the campus. This training as well as former trainings have set the standard for our campus where collaborative teams and all students will learn and grow are our foundation.
The journey did not start out smoothly but thankfully, with teacher determination and after trainings, our campus has one hundred percent buy in on the collabortive team process. Our teachers see the progress this process brings to student learning.
The most powerful training for myself was the PLC at work three day conference in San Antonio, this opened my eyes to fresh, new, and exciting ideas to implement with what we already have in place.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
To effectively monitor student learning we start with our collaborative teams and teacher communication. The teacher brings the results from assessments to the team meetings and discuss the students and the results. For those who did not meet standard the teachers come up with plans to determine how they are going to get the students to learn the material. For those that know the material they develop ways to embed learning on chrome books where the students can collaborate together and continue their learning at a higher level. We allow every student the opportunity to re-test, because every student deserves to improve or grow in their learning. Other ways that we monitor student learning immediately is with our short “chunk test,” that are developed by the teams, these are short five question assessments that give the teachers and the student’s immediate feedback and we can determine if student learning is actually taking place in the classroom. If the teachers don't give the students a “chunk test” we always have exit tickets where the topic is developed by them team but the method of delivery is up to the teacher, this is to again give the teacher's immediate feedback to determine student learning. We track student learning with AimsWeb which gives us student growth and improvement areas for every student. We take that data, the teacher data, and the assessment data and then we determine which students need our power reading or power math classes. These classes focus on student learning and growth and focus on closing any gaps that students have. These classes are built into our schedule and the students have these classes as one of their normal periods. Our social studies teachers have built in embedded student monitoring rubrics that they rate themselves throughout the lesson. This allows the teacher to know exactly how that student is feeling about the lesson ranging from no clue to I could teach this to the class. We have developed our curriculum at Liberty Hill ISD, which is called Panther Curriculum. Each team has a member that takes the data and lessons that they have created together and enters it along with our curriculum director into the system. This allows us the stay vertically aligned and if a teacher leaves, a new hire can access what we have and be on board with the team immediately, rather than have to wonder what we are doing in the classroom.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
We have two ways that we focus on intervention for all of our students. The first way that we utilize is what we call advisory period to start the day. This period allows for students to go to any teacher that they want to receive help on any school work that they have. This could be for questions or for finishing work from the previous day. The students that do not need additional assistance during this time read a book or work collaboratively with other students on assignments in their first period teacher’s class. This has helped with student learning by having the teachers available before the school day starts. The second piece to our intervention process involves our power reading and power math classes. These classes are embedded into the student’s schedules and act as an everyday extra fifty minute class focused on student learning and growth. Every math and ELA teacher on campus has a power class, along with our 6th grade science teachers having a power math class. The students at the top end of the tier system stay with their math or reading teacher and the classes consist of no more than twelve students per class. The Intervention specialist also have power classes they teach. These are the students that need extra help from a specialist, which is why they go to the intervention teachers. The data used to determine if a student needs this class includes assessments, AimsWeb, and teacher input. At our campus we do not push that every student will pass a state assessment, but we do push that 100% of students will learn and grow and receive a two on their progress monitor, which means they are exceeding recommended learning. These power classes focus on closing gaps and student growth. The students are grouped based off their levels so that the teachers can adapt their lessons to meet the student’s needs.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
To build a high functioning collaborative team it is gravely important that the teachers have built in planning time together. All subject areas have time built into their schedule where they can meet three times a week for fifty minutes to plan and collaborate. All 5th and 6th grade Math, Science, Social Studies, and ELA teachers have common planning time with their team three days a week fifty minutes a meeting. In order to make this happen we had to make floating conference periods in the schedule to accommodate the other two days where teachers meet with their quad to discuss their students and how they can reach them. The quad meetings are the math, science, social studies and ELA teachers meeting together to discuss their students they share. The team meetings based off of subject area is where the teachers plan backwards and focus on student learning and what they are going to do with the students who have learned the lesson. The teachers start every meeting with the reading of their norms, followed by celebrations, the curriculum, followed by challenges. The reason for that order is for the team to focus on the good and the work needed to improve student learning instead of a complaint session about the negative. The teams make agendas for every meeting share it with the administration, but they are 100% teacher run. As the principal I go into collaborative team meetings maybe once a quarter just to observe the greatness that is taking place. To determine the level of how high functioning our teams were, I did a class swap where all grade level content area teachers switched classes within their content. The reason behind this was that if the PLC process was truly being followed then the teacher should have been able to walk into a class and learning continue just with a different style. Fortunately for our campus it did. The teams deem the meeting time a sacred time and they will not schedule any meetings or conferences during that time. The teams have embraced that all students are our students, not just the students on their roster. The best part of having the high functioning teams is the collaboration process that the teachers use to help improve student learning. Teachers use each other and the way that they approach lessons to enhance student learning, because they know they each bring strengths to the team that can improve each other's weaknesses. With the buy in from all teachers to these high functioning PLC teams student learning has increased and student failures have decreased from over 120 students failing per six weeks to 40 students failing and only 1% of our ELA students failing.
Additional Achievement Data
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Reading/ELA Distinction Designation in 2017
Completed a TEA featured video program in 5th Grade Science, 6th Grade ELA, and 6th Grade Social Studies in 2016
TEA Recognized campus 2015
Top 25% Student Progress Distinction Designantion 2015
Reading/ELA Distinction Designation 2014