Tara Fulton •
Gladys Polk Elementary School Richwood, Texas
The Power of the PLC Process at Gladys Polk Elementary School
The Gladys Polk Elementary School community, in Richwood Texas, recently experienced Hurricane Harvey. The extensive flooding in our area caused us to have to cancel school for two weeks. When we announced that we would cancel school, it meant that we would miss our PLC collaborative meetings. Teams of teachers came to the office and expressed that they didn’t want to cancel school because that meant they would not have their PLC collaborative meeting.
During the two weeks, teachers used technology to continue collaborating. Many of our homes were surrounded by flood water, however, teachers were continuing to communicate via text, email, and digital documents. Teachers and staff expressed that they just wanted to get back to school for their students.
When we were finally able to come back to school after two weeks, teachers whose homes had flooded did not use that as an excuse. Instead, they were there for the students, and carried on with normal routines and procedures in order to meet the needs of the students, many of who were also flooded from their homes. Walking into the school, one would never know that over half of the students and many of the staff had just experienced a horrific disaster at home. Instead, you saw guided reading, small group instruction, and PLC collaborative meetings to continue addressing the needs of the students.
Only a staff who has truly experienced this kind of collaborative, student-focused culture can literally weather a storm and come out stronger after it’s over. Even when the campus was surrounded by water and plans were made to relocate school temporarily to a church building, it did not phase our staff. When they heard of the plans, they said, “okay, let’s do it.” Plans were made to continue instruction and to meet the student’s needs. No one complained, no one panicked about having to move an entire student body to a different location.
We worked together to make the best of the situation, the whole time, keeping students as the focus. After the flood, the staff immediately organized into teams to go into flooded homes and help with cleanup. We didn’t organize into grade levels, we went as a whole school PLC team. That’s because we don’t see ourselves as grade level teams. We are a whole school PLC. These are testaments that Polk Elementary believes that a PLC is not a meeting, it’s truly a lifestyle. It’s the culture of our campus and it’s the mindset of our staff.
To read more about the power of the PLC at Work process at Gladys Polk Elementary, please visit the following site: http://www.allthingsplc.info/evidence/details/id,1160