Blog

Walking the Walk (Even When You Stumble)

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“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

Community and Relationships: Creating Strategic Support Systems

“Happily ever after isn’t a destination, it’s a daily commitment.” —Karen Finn I am often asked “What is the key to improving schools” or “Why . . . Read more

Staying the Course with a Smart Assessment Plan

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It’s a cool Saturday morning in October. Everybody is gathered at the Tim Nixon Invitational Cross Country meet in Liberty, Missouri. Parents gather on the sideline straining in . . . Read more

'Better' Doesn't Happen All By Itself

My granddaddy used to say, “Tighten up every little chance you get. ‘Better’ doesn’t happen all by itself.” And my granddaddy was always right. (With the exception . . . Read more

Understanding the 'What'

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While I was a school principal, our teams went into the PLC process with the aim of meeting each and every student where they were. Our mission was to collectively support all learners in moving . . . Read more

There is an 'I' in TEAM

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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

The PLC Journey Starts With Community

“What is labeled as ‘fluff’ is more often the stuff of leadership and culture.” —Terrence Deal, Kent Peterson, Shaping School Culture While the word . . . Read more

PLC Collaboration: District and School Leaders

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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

Effectively Leveraging Community Partnerships by Getting Clear on Purpose

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One of the strategies cited by school leaders as being an effective way to meet the needs of students is developing and utilizing partnerships with community agencies, higher education, and other organizations. While such relationships can be very beneficial and enjoyable, without clarity of mission, an opportunity is lost. Read more

Helping Data Analysis Take Root

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Data analysis. It is a concept that spurs rich reflection from many, but eyerolls or quizzical looks from too many. Some teachers feel that the data analysis they do is just to satisfy someone else’s administrative need or to show that, yet again, the same set of kids in their class struggled. Read more

Leading the PLC Journey at the District Office

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School districts have the unique opportunity and challenge of educating the diverse population they serve. We know there is compelling research on the impact that professional learning communities have on student achievement. As a result, shouldn’t all school districts take on the challenge of doing this work at the district level to ensure all of their schools are on this journey? Read more

Giving All Teachers the Coach They Deserve

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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

Redesigning Our Schools: How Can We Do That?

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I recently had the opportunity to attend the RTI at Work Institute™ in Edmonton, Canada. One of the great things about attending a Solution Tree Institute is the opportunity to learn alongside educators from all over North America. The opportunity to hear different perspectives and ways of thinking around the school improvement process is an invaluable learning experience. Read more

Collaboratively Designing and Delivering Lessons: The Instructional Diamond

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Since the work of Madeline Hunter, a lot has changed in education. We now have ample resources and robust technologies that can provide engaging, vivid experiences for students. More important, we have much more research about teaching and learning than we ever have previously. We know more about how students learn. Even with all these changes, the framework for building lesson plans and delivering instruction has not evolved. Read more

On What Kind of PLC Journey Are You: Learning...or Doing?

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Becoming a PLC is a journey of transformation. It requires that we nurture and cultivate a collaborative culture anchored around a shared commitment of one thing: learning. However, it is amazing how many times I see folks engaged in what they believe to be the work of a collaborative team in a professional learning community. Yet, through their conversations about their work, they demonstrate the only thing that has really changed is what they call their meeting time. Read more