Posted by Robert Eaker and Rick and Becky DuFour
I am principal of a small school, with 1 or 2 teachers at each grade level.Â The collegiality/cooperation in the school is nearly nonexistent. I buy into the whole idea behind PLC’s. My question–how can we accomplish this with such a small school, and with the disrespect and distance in some of the staff members?
1. Create a “Guiding Coalition” – convene a group of teachers from your school to help you lead this journey…no matter how good a leader is, no leader can “go it alone” when attempting to make significant structural & deep cultural changes.
2. Build Shared Knowledge about PLCs – that is, you and your guiding coalition should engage your staff in collective inquiry into both your school’s current reality (what does our hard & perceptual data tell us about ourselves) AND into “best-practice” (what are “improving schools doing that we’re not) This is addressed at length in the chapter on “building consensus” in our book latest book, Learning By Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many, Solution Tree, 2006)
You can also help your staff learn about PLCs by sharing and discussing articles (from http://www.allthingsplc.info/); making site visits to PLC schools (see schools listed under “Evidence of Effectiveness” on the site); video conferencing with teachers in PLC schools (call Solution Tree at 800.733.6786 for more information); attend PLC institutes, summits, etc. (visit http://www.solution-tree.com/ for a listing institutes and events)
3. Explore/Utilize PLC Resources:
Learning By Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work provides answers many of the questions you’re facing.Â (i.e. how do I make this happen in a small school – what’s the best way to structure teams; how do I build consensus for these ideas; how do I deal with the people who still don’t want to change/implement new ideas & strategies; how do I sustain the change process…etc.)Â We’ve also created a teacher Plan Book that helps to “guide” the team process (you can explore these & other resources at: http://www.solution-tree.com/)
4. Network with other principals in small school settings:
Several of our PLC associates and schools included under Evidence of Effectiveness have implemented PLC practices in small school settings. Please explore the listings and feel free to contact the principals of those schools.Â We also invite them and other blog readers to write in and offer insights, advice and support and you implement PLC practices in your small school setting.
As always, we look forward to learning with you,
Becky, Rick and Bob
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