Kelecia Glover •
Mabelvale Elementary School • Mabelvale, AR
When You Know Better, You Do Better
Have you ever heard of the saying “When you know better, you do better”? The same is true with the PLC process. When you know better, you do better. As you embark upon this journey, I would strongly encourage you to do the right work because it's the right thing to do. Our professional learning community journey began at Mabelvale Elementary over four years ago after we attended a two-day Solution Tree event. We were so excited about the knowledge we had gained that we decided to hire a consultant to help provide guidance for our Guiding Coalition. Before our journey, our school had a common planning time, but there were no collaborative expectations. Although teachers often shared information and resources, there was little to no collaboration around student achievement and effective teaching practices and little to no support on how to improve either of those. Our teachers were working hard but not producing the results we desperately wanted and needed.
In the spring of 2019, Mabelvale Elementary applied for and was selected as a recipient of the PLC grant for Cohort 3. Being the first school in the district to receive this award and support was phenomenal. Our school was excited to hit the ground running to learn strategies and skills that would help us grow into a learning community. That excitement would soon be challenged by a trifecta of events—the COVID-19 pandemic being the biggest event of the last three years. We began the 2019–2020 school year with the expectation of implementing the PLC process with fidelity with the help of our Solution Tree coaches. We were well on our way: we had identified essential standards and had established a new mission and vision, as well as collective commitments. Teams had become clear on question 1 of the process, and we even had an identified time in which students would receive Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. When we were sent home in March of 2020 due to COVID-19, we lost momentum because we had to restructure the way we looked at teaching and learning in a virtual environment. The change was uncomfortable but necessary in order to meet the needs of all students.
Although our progress with the PLC process was stifled momentarily, we altered the way we looked at things academically, behaviorally, and socially and began to address what we could affect. The highlights of our journey far outweigh the pitfalls that we encountered. In three years, we successfully decreased behavior referrals and suspensions. We identified what we wanted students to learn and be able to do. We created time in our schedules to address Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions after we became clear on what Tier 1 instruction looked like. We formed a specialist team of singletons in the building, and they have become our culture curators, identifying behaviors that need to be addressed for students to be successful. There were definitely moments in the journey when we wanted to give up, but I had to remind myself and my staff that if we stopped we would be doing a disservice to our students. “When you know better, you do better!” Exiting Cohort 3 at the end of this school year does not mean we exit the process. You will soon learn that the process is a continual cycle. Now that you are on the track, remember that slow and steady wins the race. The art of evolution is that you get to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow through them. I am excited about the journey that you are about to embark upon. A WIN for one of us, is a WIN for all of us. Cohort 6 schools, you are already winners because you have realized that this is the right work and you have decided to plunge into the deep. The ADE, Model PLC at WorkⓇ schools, and other cohort schools are your lifelines! Use us! We are here for you and excited about your commitment to this effort.