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

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“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

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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

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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

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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

Mrs. Gorman Changed My Life

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Not in an awe-inspiring, mind-blowing, hoping-Disney-buys-the-movie-rights type of way. But she was a life-changing teacher nonetheless. She was my English teacher in 1985, during my 7th-grade year at Richardson North Jr. High School in Texas. Read more

Moving from a Belief to an Action

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In the summer of 2015, I met Dr. Sharon Kramer, Professional Learning Community, continuous school improvement guru and a mentor of mine. She asked the question: What do kids get? I was knocked off my feet as I could not necessarily answer her question. Read more

Pit Bulls and Fallen Trees: A Message to Principals

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It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving break. As a busy elementary school principal, I spent the previous four days resting, relaxing, and gearing up for the mad dash to winter break. I renewed . . . Read more

How Our Teams Can Reflect at a Higher Level

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Robert Marzano taught us many years ago that the school level factor that has the greatest impact on student learning is a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Given the bank of research supporting common formative assessments (CFAs), it is time we study whether CFAs are the team-level factor that most impacts student learning. Read more

Product Templates to Guide the PLC Process

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Becoming a highly effective collaborative team can look easy, but with some templates and guidance, teams may get just the boost they need to assist them in becoming part of an effective PLC school. Let’s presume your school has completed the challenging work of creating a shared mission, vision, values, and goals, and the culture of the school indicates readiness for the next steps in the PLC journey—the standardization of products, or for some templates to guide the work. Read more

Collective Inquiry and Building Shared Knowledge

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One of the factors that makes the PLC at Work model unique is the emphasis on building shared knowledge and building the professional capacity of practitioners. The traditional school model featured individual development, and the PLC model supports collective development. In fact, one of the key principles of the model is that learning for educators is the key to improving student learning (DuFour, DuFour et al. 2016). One of the most important responsibilities of a school leader is to invest in the capacity of those who influence student learning. In the PLC process, we call this activity Collective Inquiry. Read more

How Kids WIN Systematically

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My experience as a teacher was amazing! I loved teaching, my colleagues, my families, and my students; but I wish I could have a complete redo on my time in the classroom. Regrettably, as a teacher I never had the opportunity to function within a Professional Learning Community. Sure, I had amazing colleagues who became life-long friends. Yes, they were willing to share their “things” that worked for their kids in their classrooms. I definitely was able to get to know “their kids," just as they were able to get to know “my kids” because we shared them for periods of time throughout the week. We even shared data! If you’re reading this and thinking, “Why is Will suggesting he didn’t function within a PLC?”, let me explain. Read more

Doing the Right Things Right: Building Capacity, Quality Control, Fidelity, and Accountability

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“What drives your school improvement efforts—evidence of best practice or the pursuit of universal buy-in?” This question is posed by Dr. Richard DuFour in his article, . . . Read more

What’s the Plan?

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The ability of leadership teams to effectively answer this very simple question has either kicked off a great initiative or served as the catalyst for many difficult or frustrating conversations. . . . Read more

Let the Debate Begin

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Robert J. Marzano in What Works in Schools: Translating Research Into Action (2000) wrote that a “guaranteed and viable curriculum” (p. 22) is the school-level factor that most impacts . . . Read more