C.C. Hardy Elementary

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

Our PLC Story

 

January 2017

For CC Hardy Elementary, the PLC journey began in January of 2017. The new year brought new leadership and we were a campus in need of systems. This is when our campus began meeting as collaborative teams twice a week in order to start planning more efficiently. One meeting was dedicated to planning and one meeting was primarily to talk about student data and achievement. Teams began by using the backward planning process to design instruction and achieve specific learning goals.  Teachers were using pre-assessments and post assessments to help them know what to teach, however they were not writing the assessments.   Instead they were using premade assessments from a variety of sources. During discussions about students and assessments, teachers were often heard saying, I think and I feel, rather than I know because... Our most fragile children, tier 3 students were receiving their interventions from our campus paraprofessionals and not from the expert, a certified teacher. The effectiveness of the intervention was not being monitored and students’ progress was not being tracked. We knew we had a long way to go and we could do better for our students. 

 

2017-2018

As our 2017-2018 school year began, we had a newfound determination to turn our school around. The first thing we did was take intervention out of the hands of paraprofessionals and put it back into the hands of teachers. We determined that our school had a significant number of students that were 2 or more grade levels behind in reading. It was clear we had to do something to change that. We were committed to investing in the roots of our organization.  We knew that if we wanted to decrease the number of students in our 3rd-5th grade intervention, we had to start focusing on improving tier 1 instruction in Kindergarten through 2nd grade.  Teams systematically worked to identify all students that needed reading intervention. We took those students, put them into groups based on needs and shared them among the team. Our master schedule was built to allow a 45 minute intervention period for every grade level every day. Teachers shared students to ensure every student in need of reading intervention received it. All teachers followed a structured intervention plan to make sure our kids were getting our best. Paraprofessionals pushed into the grade levels during intervention time to give other students a little attention as the teacher was focused on our identified students. Teams used a shared spreadsheet to track these students as their reading levels grew and they adjusted groups accordingly. All of this work was done during our Collaborative Team Time. Teacher teams became proficient at identifying students that needed intervention and sharing students for maximum growth. Our GAP intervention was starting to look really good. 

These changes were definitely a move in the right direction, however when we reflected on them, we realized we were overlooking another group of students.  What were we doing to enrich students in our classes that were not in need of intervention?  What were we doing to reach kids that needed intervention on grade level standards?  Our teachers were doing a decent job of giving them engaging station activities.  Some were offering choice assignments or projects, but we realized we needed to seek out each of these student groups with the same kind of intentionality we were giving our intervention students.  This was an area we knew we needed to improve.  

During this time, teachers also started looking for trends among learners as they planned Tier 1 instruction. We were still using our two collaborative times in isolation and meetings were not agenda driven. Teachers were trying to backward plan, but something was not translating. We instituted data protocol to help teams as they looked at data, but the system just was not smooth. Our teachers were definitely looking at CSA data and talking about students, but somehow it was not connecting to instruction the way it should. Our collaborative time wasn’t as productive as we needed it to be. I would like to say that we were using the four PLC questions to guide our decisions, but at this time, we did not have a full understanding of how to use those questions to guide our decisions.   

 

2018-2019

Another new school year was upon us, and we could feel the pendulum starting to swing. It was the 2018-2019 school year. Our collaborative team times were set. Teams still met once a week to plan and once a week to discuss data. Our school was trying to use the four PLC questions to guide discussion.  We knew what the four questions were, and they were  mentioned during collaborative discussions, but they were not driving discussions the way we needed them to.  We had a solid intervention plan in place, but wanted to make sure we included math in that plan.  Teachers collaborated to share students as they participated in both math and reading interventions.  We were working hard to implement a good intervention system.  There was improvement in STAAR scores the year before and in student reading levels. However, this year we knew we needed to do something to ensure we were meeting the needs of all students. A new master schedule was built to allow 40 minutes of GAP intervention and 40 minutes of intervention focused on grade level essentials.  The new schedule allowed for students that were not involved in our intervention activities to be involved in some extension activities.  This was our first attempt to answer the 4th PLC question…How will we respond if they already know it.  We started clubs that were led by paraprofessionals.  We provided opportunities for students to participate in drama, art and stem activities.  It was a good idea, but it did not take us long to realize we missed the mark.  It was not exactly what we needed.  These extension activities were intended to give students an opportunity to apply things learned in class in more creative ways and to provide motivation for students that lacked the will to learn.   We soon realized that by putting people in charge of extension activities that were not a part of planning was not going to work.  Although we believe we have some of the best paraprofessionals in the business, asking them to to plan and implement creative activities tied to our instruction was not the answer.  Two things were very clear to us in a short amount of time.  First, we wanted all students to have the same creative opportunities, not just high achieving students.  Students in intervention were not getting the same creative opportunities and we recognized that they needed it more than anyone.  Second, we realized the activities were not truly enriching students' instruction.  We needed to go back and rework this idea.  

During this school year, we also made an attempt to improve our process with PLC questions one and three.  We wanted to answer PLC question three with more confidence.   How will we respond if they do not learn?  We implemented a prototype for monitoring progress of essential standards, our IDM (Insufficient Progress, Developing, and Masters). This was a shared spreadsheet that teachers used to monitor student progress on common formative assessments as we intervened on grade level essentials.  We knew we had to track data to improve instruction.  During this process, it became apparent that some of our teachers were unsure how to use common formative assessments.  We definitely had bumps we needed to work on, but we were working.  We were trying to change our language from; I think or I feel to, I know because.  We made a more intentional attempt to answer PLC question one by having our teams identify essentials as they planned.  It didn’t always go smoothly. It was a new concept to most teachers, and there was a lot of discussion about how to correctly identify an essential. We did not have a system in place to help teachers as they attempted this task. 

Collaborative time was led by team leaders, instructional coaches, and administrators rather than teachers.  Our intervention system and progress monitoring for intervention was going well. We were PLC right in those areas, but we were lacking in other areas. Tier 1 instruction preparation was still PLC light. Teachers were still using assessments from a variety of sources and we did not have any idea how to use our data to turn an essential standard into a unit plan. 

In the Spring of 2019, a small group of teacher leaders, an instructional coach, and our campus administrator attended a PLC conference. From that conference, a Design Team was born on our campus. The purpose of the team was to assess and improve the academic performance of CC Hardy Elementary. The team brought back many ideas and plans from the conference and started working almost immediately. The first thing on our list was to start using a unit planning document to guide planning for tier 1 instruction. We needed to be more intentional with our planning. The design team discussed connecting our separate collaborative times. Previously, we designated a day for planning and a day to look at data, but we realized teams needed to determine what kind of meeting they were going to have. We also realized our teams needed a better understanding of formative and summative assessments and how to develop them and use them to guide instruction.  The design team decided to choose one thing to share with staff before we dismissed for summer break. We worked to develop a form that would guide teachers through the process of planning a unit. This unit plan was going to help us focus on PLC questions one and two:   What do we expect our students to learn?  How will we know they are learning?  It also included a calendar that would help teachers plan CFA’s throughout instruction.  We worked through the form with teachers in a staff meeting to ensure everyone was trained. This was a new beginning for our school. We had a lot of work still to do, but we had direction. There was a substantial improvement in STAAR scores this year and we were starting to see a smaller number of students in GAP intervention.  According to our Campus Report Card, we advanced from a D to a C campus rating, 69 to 75. CC Hardy Elementary had always been a tough little Title 1 school in a small community. It was the school nobody wanted to attend, but it was becoming “THE BEST PLACE TO BE.” 

The design team guided discussion about our PLC practices.  We began identifying what part of the collaborative process we would target as we worked to improve it and decided how we were going to improve it.  We created any forms needed and then took the process to the school to train teachers on the expectation. This team started using the four PLC questions to guide decisions and we were developing good systems, systems we owned.

 

2019-2020

As the 2019-2020 school year began, our campus was on the way to doing great things.  This is when our school became very intentional as we began to build a shared understanding and ownership of our PLC process.  We now had a team of educators in our school that guided discussion about improving our PLC.  We began the work of identifying what part of the collaborative process we would target and then worked to improve it.   We created any forms needed and then took the process to the school to train teachers on the expectation. This team started using the four PLC questions to guide decisions and we were developing good systems, systems we owned.  With these systems, many things changed for teams as they met for collaborative team time.   

Our district created a SIG to guide collaborative teams as they met. Teams started meeting 3 times a week, one of those times was extended to 90 minutes.  We were learning to use a shared agenda to keep meetings on task. Collaborative Teams started leading their own meetings and learned quickly how to merge their “planning & data discussions” using an agenda. Teachers also began assigning roles during meetings to make sure everyone was contributing. Teams became proficient at identifying essential standards using a REAL (readiness, endurance, assessed and leverage) document as criteria. In time, they became effective at developing a Unit Plan to map out essentials, identify learning targets, and plan CFA’s.  Teachers were becoming more comfortable planning and writing formative and summative assessments. The four PLC questions were being used by all to keep discussion focused. We were seeing true collaboration among teams and it was exhilarating. Many times, as we collaborated and worked on a task, we found that it needed to be simplified or improved. The design team would then meet and make changes needed to improve collaboration. The beauty of it all was that it was teacher-driven. The design team hashed out a shared goal and process to reach that goal. Then they made a plan to train staff. The result of this process on our campus has been true collaboration during collaborative team meetings.
Over the summer, some teachers collaborated in a different way and gave our collaborative meeting room a makeover.  They painted, arranged some furniture and named  our large room with large windows “The Think Tank.”   Most importantly, they installed very large window decals on our windows.  These window decals were our four PLC questions.  What do we want our students to learn?  How will we know they are learning?  How will we respond if they don’t learn?  How will we respond if they already learned it?  Teachers wanted to make sure we kept our focus.  It was evident by their actions that we truly were building ownership in our process.    

Our intervention time was second to none.  Teachers knew how to collect data, organize students and plan intentional instruction.  We were also working on improving PLC question four:  How will we respond if they already know it?  Teachers were planning extension activities for students not involved in intervention.  This was a growing number of students because our commitment to intervention was starting to pay off!   Teachers planned time during their week to meet with kids in need of extension.  Making sure these kids were spending that time with teachers and not paraprofessionals was paramount.  During that time, teachers worked to build depth of understanding and complexity.  Teachers would change the perspective of questions to make kids think and involve them in projects that allowed them to problem solve as they applied essential standard knowledge.  Teachers made it a point during collaboration time to ask the question... How will we respond if they already know it?  We were committed to growing all students.    

Our specials teachers found a way to enrich and motivate all students by revising the club idea we tried the year before.  Special teachers took the lead this time and started clubs that all students participated in once a week.   Our special teachers collaborated to put students into “Houses” within the grade level to participate in the clubs.  The “Houses” allowed our bilingual students and general education students to mingle together more.  It allowed opportunities for student relationships to improve.  Our special teachers, supported by our paraprofessionals, collaborated to plan enriching, motivating activities for students to engage in that would provide opportunities for students to apply essential skill knowledge.  This was also an attempt to reach some of our students that had a difficult time with the will to learn.  If they wanted to participate in these creative activities, their behaviour had to be in line with expectations.  Some of the clubs offered to students were gardening, cooking, art, reading and yoga.  This was the first attempt at involving our specials team in the collaborative process.  Their collaboration to develop these club activities was instrumental in supporting classroom teachers.  It allowed classroom teachers to extend one of their collaboration times from 45 minutes to 90 minutes.  The extra time for classroom teachers was used to work on unit plans and focus on the four PLC questions.  Involving our special teachers  in the collaborative process was beneficial from every vantage point.  It was another move toward PLC right.    

Teachers were using our IDM  (Insufficient Progress, Developing, and Masters) to track CFA’s.  It helped us identify students that needed grade level interventions.  PLC question 3 was driving this initiative.  We wanted to make sure we intervened on students needing help with grade level essentials.  Tracking CFA data gave teachers confidence as they spoke about student growth.  We were hearing “I know… because” about student performance as we better understood how CFA’s were directly related to instruction on essentials.  Time was spent reflecting on individual and collective data.  This led to discussions about classroom practices.  Teachers spent time modeling  for each other to improve instruction in all classrooms before we even got to summative assessments.   Teams were beginning to be comfortable building their own assessments and our CFA’s and CSA’s were starting to align.  Our campus instructional coaches started tracking CSA’s by essential standards to make sure we were spiraling essentials in instruction and assessments as we moved through the curriculum.  We could see instruction for all starting to improve!    

We were reaching PLC right in so many ways. Our little school was truly giving all we had to help students. It just doesn’t get any better than that. We even had a direction for the next year. We started making plans to begin writing pathways for our systems, when the unthinkable happened. COVID 19 hit our nation and everything came to a screeching halt. 

Like so many other schools in our nation, we were scrambling to find ways to meet our student’s needs without being able to see them every day. For our school, this was devastating. Being a Title one school, many of our students didn’t have the resources at home needed to continue learning. Many of them do not even have books. Our teachers become so good at collaborating and identifying what was essential for students that they used these new tools to navigate through uncharted territory. We developed instructional materials to meet the needs of all students. Students with technology and students without technology were given the opportunity to continue learning. Teachers had very productive collaborative meetings virtually, and used those meetings to share ideas on how to better meet the needs of students. Collaborative teams met virtually twice a week to plan for the upcoming week and to reflect on student data and participation. They met virtually with some students and spoke with other students via phone calls, emails or messages. Our teachers did what they had been doing for the last three years, they did everything they could to meet our student’s needs. We know we will have learning gaps to address as we start our year next year, but we also know we have the tools needed to identify those gaps and work to fill them. It is unbelievable what a passionate group of determined educators can accomplish for students when they decide to work as a collaborative team.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Collaborative teams meet three times a week. One planning meeting and two collaborative team meetings where teams are expected to use the four PLC questions to drive their discussion. Teams use the TEKS Resource System as their curriculum with the following planning documents to ensure a viable curriculum is being taught and that students' progress is being monitored. 

-Readiness.Endurance.Assessed.Leverage.->Identify Unit Essential Standards

-Unit Planning Document->Identify learning targets, Depth of Knowledge, Map out Unit (CFA, CSA, learning targets), etc. 

-IDM's Spreadsheet->Teams enter student data weekly to discuss in their collaborative team meeting. 

-What Does the Data Say->This document is used after pre and post unit assessments to guide CT conversations.

 

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

Our master schedule has two daily intervention periods. 

Focus Time- (Grades 3-5), Daily intervention to address grade level essential standards. 

Zone Time- K-5, Daily intervention period to address learning gaps and to build reading skills. 

Flex Day/Week-Intervention time scheduled after CSA data has been reviewed by grade level collaborative teams.

 

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

Prior to beginning each unit, collaborative teams meet to identify the unit's essential standard, set unit learning targets, and create the unit pre-assessment. After the assessment is administered, teachers are expected to enter student data in the IDM spreadsheet and complete the shared "What Does the Data Say" google document. Teachers meet in their collaborative teams to discuss both documents and to set S.M.A.R.T goals based on the pre assessment data. Throughout the unit, teacher teams meet twice a week to discuss students' progress and to share effective teaching strategies. At the end of the unit, teachers administer a CSA, enter student data in the IDM spreadsheet and complete the shared "What Does the Data Say" google documents. Also, during this meeting, teachers share learning standard percentages and use the learning standard breakdown report to establish their intervention groups. Teachers are required to share students during their intervention time. The teacher with the highest percentage on a particular essential standard, is the lead teacher. Other teachers are used to review previously taught standards.

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