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There Is No “Magic Dust”: Building a PLC From the Ground Up. Anthony Muhammad. Magic Dust?. Instant Results with…. No Personal Commitment to Change No Threat to Tradition No Inconvenience No Accountability.

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There is no magic dust building a plc from the ground up l.jpg

There Is No “Magic Dust”:Building a PLC From the Ground Up

Anthony Muhammad


Magic dust l.jpg
Magic Dust?

Instant Results with….

  • No Personal Commitment to Change

  • No Threat to Tradition

  • No Inconvenience

  • No Accountability


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“Success does not permit shortcuts. It makes you pay all that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Napolean Hill, Think and Grow Rich


Are we serious l.jpg
Are we Serious?! that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

If we are serious about closing the Achievement Gap and creating schools where each child is guaranteed a quality education at a chance at living their dreams

We must abandon the Magic Dust mentality!


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The Task at Hand that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

“If schools are to be transformed into learning communities, educators must be prepared first of all to acknowledge that the traditional guiding model of education is no longer relevant in a post-industrial, knowledge-based society. Second, they must embrace ideas and assumptions that are radically different than those that have guided schools in the past.”

Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker

Professional Learning Communities at Work (1998)


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Big Ideas/New Ideas that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Ensuring that Students Learn

  • Collaborative School Culture

  • Focus on Results


My reality levey middle school l.jpg
My Reality that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”Levey Middle School

  • 97% African-American student population – Student population of 800+

  • School-wide Title 1 eligible

  • Over 80% of students live in single female headed households

  • 30% of students proficient in reading

  • 31% of students proficient in math

  • 25% – 40% annual student mobility rate

  • 2000-2001 school over 3000 disciplinary suspensions

  • 2000-2001 school year over 150 students failed two or more classes and were required to attend summer school

  • 65% of staff in their first, second, or third year of teaching

  • 2001-2002 school year, I was the third principal in three years


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Technical and Cultural Changes that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”


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Technical Change that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Technical changes are changes in learning tools/structure

    • Collaborative time

    • Common assessments

    • Data

    • Educational Technology

    • Support Classes


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Common Misconceptions about Technical Changes that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Changing the structure will lead to higher levels of learning (“Rearranging the seats on the Titanic”)

  • Technical changes make up for poor instruction or unprofessionalism

  • Technical changes will “fix” kids or “fix” schools which are broken (i.e. dress codes, longer school day)


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Cultural Change that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Shared Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals


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Importance of Culture that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Structural change that is not supported by cultural change will eventually be overwhelmed by the culture, for it is in the culture that any organization finds meaning

and stability.

Phil Schlechty


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Two Underlying Assumptions in a PLC that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • All Children Can Learn

  • All Children Will Learn Because of What We Do

    (All children DO learn, they just do not always learn what we want them to learn)


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Cultural Wars that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”(School Crusades)

  • The Believers

  • The Tweeners

  • The Fundamentalists


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The Believers that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Very intrinsically motivated

  • Flexible with kids

  • Mission driven/connection to school or community

  • Willing to confront negative talk and attitudes towards children

  • Varied levels of pedagogical skill

  • Carries the banner of “learning for all” whether students are learning or not.


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The Tweeners that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Loosely-coupled with the school mission

  • Enthusiastic about the idealistic nature of school, but have not quite hit the “tipping point”

  • Not quite convinced that “all children can learn,” but not Darwinistic in their approach

  • Follows instructions as given by administration (considered “good teachers”)

  • They try to avoid school and district politics

  • One bad/good experience can swing them to be a “believer” or a “fundamentalist.”


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Fundamentalist that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Firmly believe that all children cannot learn (Darwinists)

  • Firmly believe that school reform is a waste of time (Lortie – Apprenticeship of Observation)

  • Socialization plays a major role in paradigm

  • Believe in autonomy and academic freedom

  • Organize to resist any change

  • Firmly believe that gaps in learning are due to outside forces (students, parents, administration)

  • Varied levels of pedagogical skills


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Old Contract that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Teacher……

  • Teach content

  • Complete tasks and paper work as assigned by administration

  • Honor contractual obligations

  • Autonomy of pedagogy and evaluation

  • Maintain acceptable classroom management

  • Accountability is restricted to an annual or semi-annual contractually approved evaluation

  • Teacher is encouraged and free to work in isolation


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Old Contract that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Administrator ……..

  • Complete tasks as determined by central office

  • Ensure that each employee adheres to contractual obligation

  • Maintain attractive building and grounds

  • Punish students who do not follow code of conduct (Maintain order)

  • Respond to parent concerns within the scope of contractual limitations


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Old Contract that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Parents………..

  • Send students to school properly fed, clothed, and rested

  • Assure that child completes all out-of-school academic obligations

  • Support teacher by punishing child when they do not comply with school rules, and make sure that their child does not break that rule again

  • Participate in parent/school events


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Old Contract that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Child………

  • Follow the code of conduct

  • Follow all school rules

  • Complete in-school and out-of-school academic obligations

  • Pay attention to the teacher and all of his/her instruction


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New Contract that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Teacher……………….

  • All of the requirements of the old contract

  • Ensure that each student can demonstrate proficiency in all content areas

  • Develop engaging activities which reinforce state academic standards and capture the interest of a student body with and ever-shrinking attention span

  • Semi-autonomy with pedagogy

  • No autonomy in teaching content and expected outcomes

  • Communicate behavior and academic expectations to family’s with a 57% nation-wide rate of divorce and hope for help/cooperation

  • Working in teams becomes necessary in order to successfully complete all of the requirements


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New Contract that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Administration………….

  • All of the requirements of the old contract

  • Ensure that students learn state mandated curriculum or face termination and school restructuring

  • Assume the role of lead-learner and provide assistance to teachers in the areas of pedagogy, classroom management, assessment, parental relations, and school procedures

  • Provide visionary leadership so that each staff member understands their role in the state/federally mandated ascent of the school’s achievement in multiple areas


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New Contract that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Parents……..

  • Send their child to school


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New Contract that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Students……….

  • Come to school


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Fundamentalist that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”Change is Not Easy

“Drop Your Tools” Research

  • People persist when they are given no clear reason to change

  • People persist when they do not trust the person who tells them to change

  • People persist when they view the alternative as more frightening

  • To change may mean admitting failure

    Norman Maclean’s, Young Men and Fire


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The Clash that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Believers

Tweeners

Fundamentalists

Parents Students


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Transformations that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Leadership

  • Teachers


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Compliance that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Maintaining status quo

Obsession with management tasks

Appearances are more important than effectiveness

Survival of the organization is the goal

Vision

Goals are clear, reasonable, and lofty

Everyone is clear about their role in the ascension

Leader models the behavior he/she wants to see in others

Excelling in the only option

Compliance vs. Vision


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The Role of Vision that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Leadership has a responsibility to clearly provide a direction for his/her institution

  • That direction must be well known and well publicized

  • Leadership must closely consider the role of each individual within the framework of the vision

  • Role definition leads to responsibility which leads to accountability


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Organized and Strong Vision that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Leads to ………..

  • Clarity of purpose

  • Explicit identification of roles, responsibilities, and expectations of each member of the learning community

  • Changes in activity/technical tools are connected to a strong/shared vision


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Levey Mission that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

“We will work collaboratively to ensure that each student will be prepared for post-secondary education.”


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Nine Core Beliefs that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Schools are places built for the education of children, not for adult employment.

  • Schools play a major role in the future life success of students and their community.

  • Education is a profession, and educators should conduct themselves as professionals.

  • Education is a mission, and educators should conduct themselves as missionaries.

  • Schools are a communities’ most precious institution, and they have the power to transform a community.

  • Children are at the center of everything that we do, and our practice should reflect their best interest.

  • We believe that schools must partner with other members of the community in order for the educational experience to be optimal.

  • We believe that character is important and that schools can help shape a child’s character.

  • We believe that service to the community is important and that it is essential in a democratic society.


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New Frontier 21 School that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”A Fresh Approach

Professional Learning Community


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PLCs are like a vehicle… that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

They are only useful if you are trying to go somewhere!!!


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Political that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Concerned with self-interest

Lobbying

Alliances with special interest groups

Principled

Dedication to the mission of the school

Service orientation

Holds self and others accountable for contribution toward organizational goals

Political vs. Principled


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Professional Learning that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”Community

Community – A group linked by common interest


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Dictator that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Seeks control

Catalyst for motion is coercion and manipulation

Rarely shows appreciation

Motivator

Seeks cooperation

Catalyst for motion is inspiration

Consistently celebrates behavior that moves the community closer to its goals

Dictator vs. Motivator


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Leading in a PLC that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

“They (leaders) recognize that one of the most significant responsibilities of a leader is to help others believe in their own capacity to lead, and their goal is to ensure that every classroom is directed by a confident and capable teacher-leader.”

Bob Eaker and Deborah Gonzalez


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Change that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Leadership

  • Teachers


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Vague that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

General descriptions

Emphasis on averages

Comfortable with stereotypes

Precise

Diagnostic approach

Concerned with the student as an individual

Believes that every student problem has a solution

Vague vs. Precise


Student intervention l.jpg
Student Intervention that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Why aren’t they learning?


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Descriptive that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Restating the obvious

Reinforces current level of thinking

Rooted in frustration

Solving problem is not important

Prescriptive

Information is used for diagnosis

Challenges current level of thinking

Rooted in mission

Solving the problem is the only acceptable outcome

Descriptive vs. Prescriptive


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In School Tutoring that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”


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Certification that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Minimal requirement to enter a field

Allows a person to operate at a basic level

Requires little to no ongoing commitment

Professionalism

Requires a commitment to scholarship

Consistently develops skills in an evolving field

Requires an ongoing commitment

Certification vs. Professionalism


Inside teaching 2005 mary kennedy l.jpg
Inside Teaching that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”, 2005Mary Kennedy

Why is reform so difficult?

  • Teachers need more knowledge or guidance in order to alter their practice

  • Teachers hold beliefs and values that differ from reformers’ and that justify their current practices

  • Teachers have dispositions that interfere with their ability to implement reforms

  • The circumstances of teaching prevent teachers from altering their practices


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Teacher Curriculum that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Review Critical Data

  • Choose Goals (No more than four/five)

  • Identify best literature/research that helps increase staff ability to meet goals

  • Develop study questions that applies the research to school’s current reality

  • Prepare study guide for teachers and pace their curriculum for the entire school year


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Levey Results that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Reading

  • 2000 – 30% Proficient (State Avg. 68%)

  • 2005 – 88% Proficient (State Avg. 62%)

    Math

  • 2000 – 31% Proficient (State Avg. 54%)

  • 2005 – 76% Proficient (State Avg. 62%)


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Other Levey Victories that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

  • Honored as a National Blue Ribbon School

  • 2004-2005 school year, 6 students failed one or more academic classes, down from 150in 2001

  • 2004-2005 school year, 148 student suspensions, down from over 3000 during the 2000-2001 school year

  • 52% of Levey students are on the honor roll

  • 18 charitable student service learning projects completed during the 2004-2005 school year

  • Trailblazing “Hip-Hop” class that links literacy to pop culture

  • Business course and student run store offered for students in grades 6, 7, and 8 – “The Levey Dollar Store”


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No Magic Dust that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

Where do you go from here?

Will you sit on your hands and wait for change?

Or

Will you go to work and make a difference in the lives of your children and community?


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Contact Information that is due, and it only rears its head after all fees are paid.”

E-mail:

[email protected]


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