Blog

PLCs: The Path to Educational Equity

At Alisal, we know that being a Professional Learning Community means focusing on efforts on the four crticial questions. We know that we use data, not feelings, to drive what takes place in our . . . Read more

Pandemic Proved Importance of PLCs

At the start of the pandemic, our teachers struggled to know what to teach, how to teach, and most importantly, how to ensure high levels of learning for their students in a remote format, despite . . . Read more

Social Media Influencers and Student Assessment Pushback

If you spend time scrolling through social media you have most likely seen a teacher or principal who has become a social media influencer, it is the newest “second job” for educators. . . . Read more

Intervention: The Critical Safety Net

I've got to be honest, when I see people engage in recreational hobbies like free-climbing, I get extremely nervous. Perhaps the biggest reason is due to my severe fear of heights. I tend to . . . Read more

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