Critical Priorities in Building a Professional Learning Community. Illuminating the Vision in CUSD. “On Common Ground”. Roland Barth Doug Reeves Rebecca & Richard DuFour Jonathan Saphier Robert Eaker Mike Schmoker Barbara Eason-Watkins Dennis Sparks
Illuminating the Vision in CUSD
“If there is anything that the research community agrees on, it is this: The right kind of continuous, structured teacher collaboration improves the quality of teaching and pays big, often immediate, dividends in student learning and professional morale in virtually any setting. Our experience with schools across the nation bears this out unequivocally.”
The challenge of becoming a PLC demands more than adopting new programs and practices. We must also demonstrate the discipline to discontinue much of what we have done traditionally.
Most of us have an ever-expanding “to do” list, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing – and doing more. And it rarely works. Those who built “good-to-great” organizations, however, made as much use of “stop doing” lists as “to do” lists. They had the discipline to stop doing all the extraneous junk.
Great organizations simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea or guiding principle. This guiding principle makes the complex simple, helps focus the attention and energy of the organization on the essentials, and becomes the frame of reference for all decisions.
The guiding principle of a PLC is that the purpose of the school is to ensure high levels of learning for all students.
We can achieve our fundamental purpose of high levels of learning for all students only if we work together. We cultivate this collaborative culture through the development of high performing teams.
A systematic process in which we work together interdependently to analyze and impact professional practice in order to improve our individual and collective results.
PLCs will shift the focus of their school-improvement efforts from the supervision and evaluation of individual teachers to an emphasis on building the capacity of teams of teachers to take responsibility for their own learning.
Developing the skills and knowledge of individual teachers is important, but insufficient. Effective leaders will focus on developing the culture and the capacity of the organization.
We assess our individual and collective effectiveness in helping all students learn at high levels on the basis of results rather than activity. We eagerly seek out multiple indicators of student achievement and use that information to promote continuous improvement.
- Mean 178
- Median 177
- Mode 180
Schools typically suffer from the DRIP syndrome – Data Rich, Information Poor. Data alone will not inform professional practice. Data can become a catalyst for improvement only when we have a basis of comparison.
Homeroom Class #4
Timely and regular information on the achievement of their students
Collecting data is only the first step toward wisdom, but sharing data is the first step toward community.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Teachers of the same course or grade level should have absolute common agreement on what they expect all their students to know and be able to do. Therefore, they should administer common, collaboratively-scored assessments at least once each quarter. The classroom activities leading up to those assessments might differ. The need to administer the same assessment should not differ.
Assessment for learning, when done well, is one of the most powerful, high-leverage strategies for improving student learning that we know of. Educators collectively become more skilled and focused at assessing, disaggregating, and using student achievement as a tool for ongoing improvement.
The combination of three concepts constitutes the foundation for results: meaningful teamwork; clear, measurable goals; and the regular collection and analysis of performance data…good faith efforts to establish goals and then to collectively and regularly monitor and adjust actions toward them produce results, and results goad, guide, and motivate groups and individuals.
Sustain the PLC initiative by appealing directly to the heart - to the fundamental human longings.
Stop using fear and test scores as the primary motivators for school improvement.
The Instructional Leader:
Expects that all teachers will be a part of a team
Keeps the focus on student learning in all activities—professional development, evaluations/observations, walkthroughs
Monitors teams for their progress toward the goals and action plans they designed to improve achievement
Facilitates embedded professional development to address the goal areas in a sustained fashion over time, and supports the implementation of new learning
Teachers are held accountable to work within teams that center their focus on:
Clarifying the content and sequence of the curriculum
Monitoring learningof allstudents in the areas deemed priority for the course/grade level using common assessments
Designed or selected by teams
Defined by collective agreement of “proficiency”
Using Information/Data gained from a variety of sources to adjust instruction and improvement strategies
An unexamined life is not worth living… Improvement
Unexamined efforts are not worth doing…
What are your next steps?
Where is your school now?
Where did your school begin?