Glasgow Middle School

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

Who We Are

Glasgow Middle School, the largest middle school in Virginia at nearly 2,000 students, located in the 11th largest school district in the nation, represents every kind of learner. Our students come from 53 different countries and speak 57 different languages. Eighty percent of our students speak a language other than English at home. Thirty-one percent of our students receive English-learner services, 65% of our students qualify for free-or-reduced lunch, 16% of our students have been identified for special education services, and our school is also an advanced academics center for students identified as being gifted. 

Five years ago, we were a much different school than we are today. Our state assessment scores were falling, and over time, our Language Arts scores landed us in “accredited with warning” status two years in a row, in 2016 and 2017. We had tremendous urgency to shift the way we collaborated. Our staff was eager to come together as a PLC, clarify our vision, and develop our purpose in order to better support our students. It was in response to this urgency that we truly became a professional learning community.

Collective Vision

In 2015, as we transitioned under a new principal, our staff of 150 came together to develop our vision. We collaborated to determine our identity, what we valued most, and what we believed our students’ future could be. This process revealed that our staff was incredibly aligned in beliefs--especially about the power our students’ diversity brought all of us. We anchor our work every day in our vision: We are a community empowered by diversity, inspired by our success, and committed to lifelong learning

Shared Mission

As our assessment scores fell and we became at risk for losing our state accreditation, we had to look beyond our vision and determine what we needed to change in order to meet the needs of our students. Inspired by the work of Pablo Noguera, we asked ourselves if we were a good school for all students or just for students who had already demonstrated success. Our shared mission became ensuring our school was a great school for all students. 

To support our mission, our Instructional Council, made up of department chairs from all content areas, instructional coaches, and administrators, collaboratively identified and defined the practices we believe make up high quality instruction. We developed our Glasgow Signature Practices, which include Engage, Model, Practice, Assess, and Reflect, and designed professional development where our faculty unpacked these practices, discussed specific ways they would be embedded into our lessons, and learned from each other. These practices became a part of our lesson planning template content collaborative teams use to guide our planning and which has become a powerful tool to align the way we think and talk about instruction (see Resources for example).  

Shared commitment to the PLC at Work

As a professional learning community, we value collaboration and understand that it is critical to our students’ success. While our Signature Practices have given us a common language for our instructional planning and practice, we also determined that in order to become a good school for all students, we needed to articulate, unpack, and hold each other accountable to shared commitments that guide how and why we collaborate. Our Glasgow Mindset Commitments put students and our focus on our work as a PLC at the center (see Resources for example). We share them with all prospective candidates, seek these mindsets in our hiring, and infuse them into our professional development and daily interactions. They are reflected in the working agreements collaborative teams develop to norm how we will work together (see Resources for example) and anchor how we collaborate through the four critical questions.

We also committed to designing our school’s systems and structures around the principles of a professional learning community. We use whole-faculty professional development for collaborative teams to reflect and continually refine, deepen, and improve our work around the four critical questions. Our Collaborative Team (CT) Leads also meet monthly to discuss and share ideas about how to support their teams in refining their work around the collaborative team cycle. Topics of our faculty professional development and our CT Lead Cohort include protocols teams can use to unpack and prioritize standards and skills, ways to develop a variety of common assessments, how to plan instruction to meet our diverse students’ needs, and protocols to collectively use formative data to inform our practice and target individual students’ needs.

Finally, to ensure we remain focused on our goal of being a good school for all students, we have made discussing student data central to our work. We design our yearly school improvement plan (SIP) to target closing achievement gaps, start each year sharing state assessment scores with our whole staff, meet monthly as a leadership team to discuss progress monitoring data and how we can support next steps, and support collaborative content teams’ capacity to regularly examine and use a variety of data to impact planning and instruction. 

A Culture of Continuous Improvement

Glasgow’s collaborative content teams are the heart of our PLC and have the greatest impact on student learning. Each team, made up of like-content teachers as well as ESOL and Special Education teachers, has an instructional coach and an assistant principal, who attend meetings to provide perspective and support. Teams meet between two and three times every week during common planning time guaranteed by our master schedule.

To ensure we remain focused on our mission, each team develops a common SMART goal targeted toward closing achievement gaps. Agendas, developed collaboratively within teams, reflect a focus on the four critical questions, and our outcomes reflect our belief that we have collective ownership over our students’ learning and that collaborative problem solving is at our core (see Resources for example). 

One of the biggest and most impactful shifts our teams have made is prioritizing how much time we spend examining evidence of student learning. Teams use data dialogues every two to three weeks to facilitate this work and focus on determining how we will reteach and provide extension within the regular class period as well as during our three-day-per-week flexible instructional time. 

Additionally, to support teams’ growth, our schoolwide professional development has focused this year on facilitating teams’ reflections on how they are moving around the collaborative team cycle and using the four critical questions to guide their work. This learning has also built team members’ capacity to determine which parts of the collaborative team cycle they will continue to refine in order to positively impact student learning (see Resources for an example). 

Glasgow Middle School, with our size and demographics, has every reason not to be a successful school. But when we took on the work we described above, we moved from the lowest performing middle school in our district to one of the highest performing schools in our cohort of similar demographics--and we continue to improve. As a result of the tremendous shifts we made in building a PLC that strives every day to be a great school for all students, in the spring of 2018, Glasgow achieved full accreditation status based on our Virginia assessment scores. We continue to ask how we can get better by continuously building upon our previous learning and work, and we are unwavering in our focus.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

  1. Monitoring Student Learning on a Timely Basis

Glasgow’s collaborative teams meet between two and three hours every week using agendas that are built collaboratively to reflect a focus on planning for and meeting all students’ needs. Our collaborative teams (CTs) are made up of collaborative team leads, instructional coaches that support our teams, content teachers, ESOL and Special Education teacher-specialists, and assistant principals. At Glasgow, we believe quality Tier I instruction ensures students spend the majority of class time working on high-level academic tasks, guided by Costa’s thinking verbs, and that teachers use formative data regularly to work with targeted small groups of students for reteaching or remediation and extension during the regular class period. Our agendas reflect our focus on the four critical questions and how they translate into the work of collaborative teams.

Creating and Implementing a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum

What do we want students to learn and be able to do?
When our collaborative content teams focus on Question 1, we use a protocol to unpack and prioritize standards and skills. This process, which usually takes two meetings a few weeks prior to a new unit beginning, allows team members to articulate what all students should know and be able to do, then develop and pace learning targets and high quality academic tasks that all students will learn from throughout a unit. Team members also share teaching strategies that in the past have yielded the greatest results and work through new ideas. Once learning targets are prioritized and paced, the essential knowledge and skills are documented in a common lesson planning document that serves as the overall guide for suggested pacing and assessment mapping throughout the unit (see Resources for example). 

Monitoring and Responding to Student Learning

How will we know if they’ve learned it?
Next, teams develop a variety of common assessments, both formative and summative, to ensure they allow students to demonstrate their understanding in different ways, like exit tickets, sticky notes, quick writes, performance-based, warm-ups, and multiple choice, as well as longer assessments. Team members decide when they will give these common assessments and also when they will bring the evidence and data to team meetings. Most teams use some form of common assessment every one to two weeks, which ensures we can monitor and respond to student learning in a timely manner. In addition to team-developed unit assessments, our students take district content assessments twice a year. Many teams also use a beginning-of-year, mid-year, and end-of-year assessment. These assessments allow teams to benchmark our students’ progress against other students in our district and throughout the year. 

What will we do if they don’t learn, and what will we do if they already learned it? 
Evidence of student learning is brought to collaborative team meetings so that team members can collectively examine it, share high impact teaching practices, and determine and commit to next steps. To support how teams look at and make decisions around data, our teams often use a “Here’s What, So What, Now What” protocol (see Resources for example). During the “Here’s What,” teams articulate what we had intended that students learn, what they demonstrated they learned, and where they struggled. During the “So What” portion, teams reprioritize essential learning, and in the “Now What” portion, teams create a plan for responding to students’ needs through reteaching and extension during the regular class period and in our flexible instructional time. Teams also determine when and how we will track students’ progress to ensure we are continuing to monitor students’ growth. Teams generally have a data dialogue at minimum every two weeks, which has been critical to our mission of being a good school for all students. 

 

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

2. Creating Systems of Intervention and Extension

We believe at Glasgow that we do not save intervention and extension for times outside of class and instead ensure that our Tier I instructional time means that teachers regularly pull small groups to meet students’ varied needs. Collaborative teams work to identify students they will pull into each group and to determine what instruction best matches their needs. To support students who may need additional intervention, we have developed a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) for academics, behavior, and wellness (see Resources for our MTSS Overview Chart). An extensive teacher data wall that includes everything from students’ state assessment scores to WIDA levels to coursework data is used to guide us in making decisions about increased levels of support. 

Tier 1

We define Tier I as high quality classroom instruction that embeds response to common formative assessments within the classroom setting. Characteristics of the core program include:

  • High quality classroom instruction  

  • Small group reteaching and extension  based on common formative assessments 

  • Team teaching

  • Panther Time: school wide embedded advisory for all students that focuses on social emotional learning 

  • After-school programming accessible to all students

Tier 2

Tier 2 intervention includes an embedded three-day-per-week, 30-minute “flexible instructional time” (FIT) to support remediation, intervention, and enrichment. Students are identified based on an extensive teacher data wall through teacher and collaborative team recommendations. Students are moved in and out of these supports based on assessment data and student need.

Our Tier 2 supports include:

  • Core area interventions

  • Double-blocked Language Arts classes

  • Team teaching

  • Support for English-learners moving from sheltered classes into mainstream

  • Literacy and PBL enrichment

  • Leadership development

  • AVID

  • Success Prep (executive functioning) during FIT

  • MTSS problem-solving team

Tier 3

Tier 3, intensive interventions, supports our most struggling students:

  • Targeted reading and math intervention courses

  • Success Prep (executive functioning) as a course 

  • Behavior and social-emotional support groups

  • MTSS problem-solving team

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

3. Building Teacher Capacity to work as members of high-performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students

At Glasgow Middle School, we know that teams who move through the collaborative team cycle with the greatest frequency and depth are teams that have the biggest impact on student learning, and we build our master schedule to guarantee teachers have from two to three hours of common planning time in addition to personal planning time. We also ensure our master schedule is developed so that our ESOL and Special Education teachers are aligned with one content team in one grade level. In a few instances, when we have teachers who are spread across two grade levels or content areas, they are provided planning time aligned with both teams. Common planning time is also embedded into the master schedule for electives teachers. Each team is led by a collaborative team lead, whose role is to ensure the time is used purposefully. The lead and the coach meet weekly to review past agendas and determine next steps based on where the teams are currently working within the collaborative team cycle. 

Each year, teams spend time collaboratively developing, revisiting, and reflecting on working agreements to norm their collaboration. Before we aligned as a school in our vision, purpose, and commitments, working agreements usually reflected logistics like starting and ending on time. Working agreements now reflect our beliefs about collaboration, and it is common to see agreements such as this one, from our Science 6 team: Model vulnerability by providing and accepting feedback and asking clarifying questions.

Building Teams’ Capacity to Collaborate
We are intentional about using whole-school professional development days to build teachers’ and teams’ capacity to lead and collaborate around our areas of focus. Since the 2016-2017 school year, our schoolwide professional development has focused on building common language around the essential elements of high quality instruction: learning target, academic task, scaffold and evidence of student learning.  This schoolwide focus has allowed us then in teams to really dive into the four questions to ensure that all students have access to the essential knowledge and skills and that we are responding both when they do and when they don’t. This year, having worked together to clarify our instructional foundation, teams are reflecting on how we will continue to improve to support student learning. One team determined, for example, that spending more time in a CT meeting developing and fleshing out actions to respond to struggling learners would meaningfully improve their data dialogues and better target students’ needs. Because we believe that all of us impact the work of our teams, inviting all team members into this kind of reflection has been powerful (see Resources for example). 

We also support our collaborative team leads’ professional growth in leading their teams. Each month our Collaborative Team Lead Cohort, which consists of our CT Leads, instructional coaches, and administrators, meets for an hour after school to work with and learn from each other. The typical meeting structure is to ground first in professional literature about building a collaborative culture. We then often hear from leads about how their teams approach different parts of the PLC cycle, then reflect on what our teams are trying and how we will continue to support our teams’ growth (see Resources for example). Our CT Leads have the biggest impact on our school culture because the work of our teams reflects the beliefs of our building. 

Working at Glasgow can be challenging. At nearly 2,000 students and nearly every learning need, it makes sense that just a few years ago we were struggling to meet achievement benchmarks. Becoming a professional learning community with common beliefs, structures, and focus has changed everything about the way we serve our students. We have built a strong foundation and are well on our way toward ensuring our school is a great school for all students.

Achievement Data Files

 

Award

Year(s)

Description

FCPS Region 2 PLC Mini-Grants

2019-2020

2018-2019

2017-2018

10 grants awarded to Glasgow MS in the amounts of between $1000-$2500 to support qualifying collaborative teams’ focus on the PLC cycle to plan for and implement high quality Tier I instruction. 

FCPS Region 2
Outstanding New Principal of the Year:
Shawn DeRose, Glasgow Middle School

2018-2019

Selected among principals from 39 schools within Region 2 for his outstanding leadership, evidenced by nominations from staff and community members, growth in assessment data, growth in culture and climate surveys, and other data points.

FCPS Outstanding Leader of the Year: Sarah Beck, Glasgow Middle School

2017-2018

Selected among leaders across school district for outstanding leadership

FCPS Region 2
Outstanding Teacher of the Year: Lynn Eckerman, Glasgow Middle School

2017-2018

Selected among teachers across region for outstanding instruction.

Apple Federal Credit Union Impact Grant

2015-2016

Grant awarded in the amount of $5000 to support Glasgow’s Language Arts Department’s instructional shift toward high quality Tier I instruction. Teams used money to purchase books and collaborated around how to ensure all students gain access,  time, and choice every day in their reading.

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