Blog

PLC: The Catalyst for Change at Eastside Elementary

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Change and education go hand in hand. As Principal of Eastside Elementary, I can attest to the positive change from the two years as a PLC pilot school partnering with Solution Tree and Arkansas Department of Education. President Obama stated, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” This quote rings true for my staff, because they have truly embraced the process. If you were to ask an Eastside team member, they would say change has taken place by our work becoming more clear and focused. Read more

The Forgotten Question

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If Dufour, Dufour, Eaker, Many, and Mattos wrote that professional learning communities have four essential questions to answer, there must be a good reason. Of course, there is a good reason: all four questions are essential. All four questions need to be answered to ensure all students are learning at the highest level possible. Read more

Are you a tutor or teacher?

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In one of the schools where I work, the principal once commented that it makes a difference if you believe yourself to be a tutor or a teacher. We discussed it further, and she shared her belief that living as a PLC helped pave the way for many of her teachers to make the shift. Read more

Coordinate, Manage, Lead

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These three words all have something to do with making something happen. Yet in the PLC at Work® culture, there are very important distinctions among those words that can have a profound impact on the way your building operates to ensure high levels of learning for all students. Read more

Starting the PLC Journey

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There are many paths that lead an educator, a school, a district, or even a state to the PLC journey. Some are led to the path through a state or district initiative, others through the vision of their principal, others by a guiding coalition of teachers at their school. And some, like myself, discover the path through their individual journeys and growth as educators. The truth is that the ways educators come to the PLC journey are as numerous as the individuals on the path. However, one common influence we all share at the beginning of the journey is a prevailing sense of hope—the expectation and desire for something different, something that can change things for the better. Read more

Your Circle of Influence in a PLC

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You might be wondering, “What is my Circle of Influence when it comes to the PLC process?” The innermost Circle of Influence for the teacher is the classroom and the students within it. It is in that circle that a teacher can and should be accountable to answer the four critical questions of learning. Read more

The Misunderstood Pillar

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Much in the same way that building a solid foundation is so critically important to any building, so is creating a solid foundation for a PLC at Work® school to stand upon. The authors of the PLC at Work process refer to this foundation as the Four Pillars. Read more

Why This, Why Now, Why Bother

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One question I am often asked by classroom teachers is, “Why should we care about PLCs, Bill?” We are almost always skeptical when our bosses bring something new back to our building and try to convince us that it is worth investing in. But when they are done right, PLCs answer my three why questions better than anything I’ve seen in over 25 years of full-time teaching. Read more

Maybe It’s Time to Press the Reset Button

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There are many schools throughout the country that are committed to doing the “right work” and are demonstrating evidence of tremendous growth in both adult and student learning. There are many more schools, also with dedicated and hard-working educators, that have not been enjoying increased gains in student achievement and yet claim to be “doing PLCs.” Read more

Keeping the Ball Rolling: Maintaining Momentum and Urgency in a PLC

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The generation of innovative ideas and practices are often propelled through attendance at professional learning sessions where engaging practitioners and experts share their knowledge. Participants leave energized and excited; ready to get back to their schools to implement the new learning. All too often, without a systematic and consistent approach present within the culture of their schools, much of this enthusiasm diminishes when day-to-day obstacles arise. Read more

Developing a Model PLC Culture

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Two things happened in 2017 that would test the culture I helped create the last five years at the Model PLC campus at Coppell North. I went on maternity leave for a few months and then I made the tough decision to leave my amazing campus team to be closer to my own family in early July 2017. To know, by evidence, that you helped plant and grow a culture so strong that even when you are gone short term or long term and it is still functioning as a true professional learning community (PLC) is one of the greatest legacies any leader could hope for their staff and students. The way I “principal” today was shaped by what I learned along my Model PLC journey. Read more

Compound Interest: Use it Today with PLCs

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Albert Einstein is said to have stated that “compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” Compound interest is the addition of interest to the principal sum. By reinvesting interest, the base grows larger and when that base grows again by a percentage, the amount of growth is compounded. In this blog you’ll learn how the universal power of compound interest and PLCs can shape your school. Read more

The “Now What?” Of Life: Celebrating Rebecca DuFour

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I took off my suit jacket as I approached the car with this intense feeling I had done this very act of taking off my suit jacket and getting into my car, many times before. I had this awareness too that those moments had always left me feeling a bit empty. It was a feeling similar to the one you sense right after spending hours with friends and family, saying goodbye, going on your way, but feeling a bit homesick for them immediately. I could not escape how, similar to other events like this, I was once again left wondering, “Now what?” Read more

Assistants as Members of the PLC

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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

Do the Right Work: Develop Your PLC Road Map

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Highly-effective PLCs understand that collaboration is inherently neutral, and for the process to generate outcomes, collaborative teams must do the right work with a results orientation. The key is getting tight on the right things. Toward that end, schools and districts must remain focused on the following essential questions to promote accountability and ensure reciprocal accountability. Read more