Susan Huff

Susan Huff, EdD, has retired as principal of Spanish Oaks Elementary School in Utah after 34 years in public education. Previously, she was principal of Santaquin Elementary and Westside Elementary.

Common Core Implementation in a PLC - Part 2 of 3

Part 2: Leading Common Core Implementation

The role of the principal is key in helping a school move forward with Common Core (CC) implementation. As an elementary school principal now in my third principalship assignment, I recognize principal leadership as an opportunity and a responsibility. Eastwood and Lewis (1992) found that the role of the principal is the most facilitating or impeding factor in helping a school move forward. As a school consultant, I have the opportunity to work with many principals within our district, in our state, and across the country. Although the principal certainly cannot do this important work alone, I see firsthand the power of visionary leadership across a broad spectrum of schools.

Because our district has embraced the PLC at Work™ process (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008), we align our staff development with the three big ideas and the four critical questions of a PLC. Many of the principals in our district have chosen to mirror the type of collaboration we are asking of teachers, so we formed our own principals’ PLC group; we meet monthly to support each other on the PLC journey and to provide direction on our districtwide PLC journey. With an unprecedented 14 new or changed principals in our district this past spring, our principals’ PLC group recognized a need to provide training to principals so that they could confidently lead the work of CC implementation. So in June 2012, we had staff development for all our district principals. I think what was particularly unique about this training was that the itinerary came from our principals’ PLC group and the presentations were all made by teams of principals, one elementary principal paired with a secondary principal—14 principals in all. We taught each other how to lead CC implementation within a PLC framework.

As we collaborate as principals to learn new skills to lead CC implementation, we are modeling the type of teamwork we are asking of teachers. Repeatedly we see the importance of framing all our work under the PLC umbrella on both a district and school level.


DuFour, R., DuFour, R., & Eaker R. (2008). Revisiting professional learning communities at Work™: New insights for improving schools. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Eastwood, K. W., & Louis, K. S. (1992). Restructuring that lasts: Managing the performance dip. Journal of School Leadership, 2(2), 213–224.

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