Shannon Dahlberg, principal •
Glyndon-Felton Elementary School • Glyndon, MN
Five years ago I walked through the doors of Glyndon-Felton Elementary School as a new principal, determined to make a difference in the lives of students as a learning leader. As a former instructional coach, trained in the components of RtI, I believed that the first change I needed to make was in the master schedule. Consequently, I incorporated "Tier-riffic 20" intervention time, so that teachers could work with small groups of students, shared among the grade level teams. Although this schedule met some resistance, I asked the teachers to trust me, promising dramatic results at the end of the year.
Through progress monitoring, I analyzed the weekly charts and realized that the results were not what I had anticipated. Where did I go wrong? Frustrated and disappointed, I set out to find the answer. But I was looking in the wrong places, until I attended a two-day workshop, presented by Austin Buffum, detailing his work with Mike Mattos and Chris Weber on Pyramid Response to Intervention. As I listened to him discuss Professional Learning Communities and the four essential questions of a PLC, I realized that I had missed the first two questions: "What is it we want our students to learn?" and "How do we know when they have learned it?"
I immediately registered for the PLC Institute and began putting the pieces together. With a team of teachers, we researched the elements of a PLC, provided information to the staff to provide clarity to the concept, and began the work of answering the first two questions, so that we could respond to questions #3 and #4. Four years later, the staff of Glyndon-Felton Elementary has accomplished an incredible amount of work and because of this, our students have accomplished more than we originally thought was possible. This story is a celebration, for all members of the Glyndon-Felton community, as we continue our journey to ensure high levels of learning for all students!