Barbara Bushnell

Barbara Bushnell, a consultant, is a seasoned staff developer and curriculum specialist with nine years of experience serving the Francis Howell School District in St. Charles, Missouri.

What Next?

Did you just attend a summer PLC institute and you’re all fired up to get back to school and start your journey? Are you thinking how can I do this alone? Who can help me? How? Are you thinking about your first steps? These questions should help drive your work in the initial stages:

How can I increase my capacity as the leader of my building by empowering others to be leaders?

Who will be part of my guiding coalition? What will be their roles?

What is our current reality?

How will we work together for the benefit of all students in our district?

  • Focus on a small number of goals.
  • Use high-yield strategies.
  • Determine very specific actions, and set tight and loose expectations.
  • Monitor for support.
  • Model best practices.

Can we base our decisions on these questions?

  • How will this benefit kids?
  • How will we know?
  • What evidence will we accept that this is making a difference?
  • What process will we use when dealing with issues?
  • What are the barriers, obstacles, and speed bumps?

How will we make decisions?

  • Vote: What percentage will we use?
  • Consensus: What does consensus mean for us?

What approaches will we want to avoid?

  • “Delective”: Pick and choose components of a PLC that we like.
  • Managerial: Checklist of things to do.
  • “Sacred Cow”: Fail to apply the six essential characteristics of a PLC.

How can we build a common knowledge and vocabulary and at the same time create a sense of urgency around learning?

You are energized, so there is a fierce urgency to begin this journey. It’s time to move from learning to doing. The website has a wealth of resources to help you and your team on your journey. Good luck, because it is a journey well worth taking.



I have some specific questions that arose in an instructional leadership class from a teacher who is starting a PLC from the ground up with a group of Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers from both junior and high school all of which teach different single section classes. Do you know of any CTE teams that look like this and function effectively as a PLC? If so, where, and would they be willing to share any information? Any other insight or resources on how to effectively start with this group would be greatly appreciated.

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Timothy Turner


Thanks-a-million for your insight. I have always wondered myself what is next? The outline you provide can be used as a template to help catapult my future PLC meetings. Many of the challenges I face is not knowing what roles other play in what we are to accomplish. Your third point, facing reality is ideal because it is good to have high expectations. Reality has to be acknowledged in order for our efforts to be successful. I will be able to use this tool and reflect with much better precision in my future PLC meetings. Thanks.

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Charlette Pettis

I have always been one who wonders " what's next?" Like many educators who have at least a few years of experience, I have left several PLC meetings feeling re-energized and having new hope for teaching new lessons that will inspire my students. Soon however, reality sinks in, and I begin to wonder, "how will I get this done?" There are always many obstacles to consider, such as time, student's behavior, and the lack of support from parents and administrators that is very necessary to be successful.
After reading your steps to resolving some of the common questions on how "the next step" can be successful, feel a sense of refreshment. I plan to use this as a guide, following the approaches after each PLC I attend in the future.

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Rachel Fleenor

I really appreciate your outline of what to do next. I find that after every school counseling conference or presentation I want to make a massive amount of changes with my counseling program; however, never know where to start. I think that although your outline focuses on implementing PLC (or improving current PLCs), this outline can apply to many different topics and give anyone an idea of how to make changes in the school and provide support for others involved. I think it is always good to have a plan of action, without it, I think most implementations will fail.

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