Blog

The Life-Changing, Life-Saving Work of PLCs

For fifteen of my twenty-eight years in education, I have been an elementary school principal. I have worked with affluent, middle-class, and poverty clientele. The last ten years have been . . . Read more

The Three Big Ideas That Drive the Work for Lead Learners

thumb

“The most powerful and effective role the principal assumes is that of lead learner, not expert or ‘all knowing one.’” (Kramer & Schuhl, 2017, p.9) Phew...now . . . Read more

Pandemic Provides New Lens for Clear Mission

thumb

Over the past 17 years, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with a wide variety of schools. Some of them were public, others private or charter schools. Some were comprised of students from . . . Read more

PLCs: Super Bowls and Super Systems

thumb

Now that football season is officially over and Tom Brady has permanently secured his place as the greatest quarterback of all time, I cannot help but think of the plethora of parallels that exist . . . Read more

Why a Strategic Implementation Guide is a Must for a PLC

thumb

When I first was introduced to the concept of professional learning communities, it just clicked. This is how we should lead our campuses. Read more

Growing and Utilizing Your Guiding Coalition

thumb

Change is hard, but inevitable. Schools are complex…I would argue they are extremely complex. Name another industry where you have as many variables (students, parents, teachers, bus . . . Read more

Finding Your Team's Foundation With Fundamentals

thumb

Fundamentals are never fun. Fundamentals are never exciting. But fundamentals are necessary. NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan summed up the importance of fundamentals when he said, “The . . . Read more

Develop a Collective Commitment Calendar to Ensure PLC Success

thumb

Rick DuFour details the litany of expectations thrust on today’s teachers and administrators in his book, In Praise of American Educators. Unfortunately, many educators grapple with punitive . . . Read more

Walking the Walk (Even When You Stumble)

thumb

“I swear we just said goodbye to our students in June just last week!” “It’s probably because the polar vortex added extra days to the end of last year, but this summer . . . Read more

There is an 'I' in TEAM

thumb

Like many educational terms, we throw them around and often use them loosely. I find we often use the term “team” in this manner. “We are a great team.” “I . . . Read more

PLC Collaboration: District and School Leaders

thumb

Our district went through an organizational reorg during the 2018-2019 school year. As we morphed into the school year, we wanted to work on improving PLCs. Each level in Jefferson County Schools has a team of district resource teachers to provide support for schools. We have been working with the schools on becoming highly effective PLCs. Our ELA resource teacher created a learning walk tool, PLC Check In, we could use when visiting collaborative teams. My administrative assistant and I looked at the weekly reports to monitor what was taking place during the week. Read more

Giving All Teachers the Coach They Deserve

thumb

Meeting the needs of every teacher can be a daunting task for even the most experienced instructional coach. So, how does a principal ensure that all teachers get the coach they deserve? Read more

Assistants as Members of the PLC

thumb

Schools across the country are generally staffed with highly trained professional administrators, teachers and content specialists. In my work assisting schools with building PLCs, the staff members closest to the instruction are usually the ones that first come to mind when discussing who the “professionals” are that make up a PLC. However, in my experience as a building principal, I very quickly realized that the work of instructional assistants can be crucial in helping a school meet goals and sustain success. Read more

The Case for Coaches in Professional Learning Communities

thumb

Instructional coaching is a balancing act of working with teams to help ensure the fidelity of the three big ideas of a PLC and also provide the time and support to individual teachers who need it. If members of a collaborative team become worried about individual teacher performance, then they can get derailed from focusing on the four critical questions that should be guiding their work. Read more

The Answer is in the Room—But Who is in the Room?

thumb

In a professional learning community, working collaboratively is a way of life. This component of the work is fairly well-known and understood by many. And you may have even heard one of these phrases, “The answer is in the room,” or “None of us is as smart as all of us.” But who is included on your collaborative team? Who are we referring to when we say “us”? Read more