Medium 9781935542094

Learning by Doing

Views: 960
Ratings: (0)

Like the first edition, the second edition of Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work helps educators close the knowing-doing gap as they transform their schools into professional learning communities (PLCs). This continuing work with teachers, principals, and central office staff from schools and districts throughout North America has given them a deeper understanding of the challenges educators face as they attempt to implement the professional learning community process in their organizations. This second edition attempts to draw upon that deeper understanding to provide educators with a more powerful tool for moving forward.

List price: $34.99

Your Price: $27.99

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

21 Slices

Format Buy Remix

Chapter 1 A Guide to Action for Professional Learning Communities at Work

ePub

We learn best by doing. We have known this to be true for quite some time. More than 2,500 years ago Confucius observed, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Most educators acknowledge that our deepest insights and understandings come from action, followed by reflection and the search for improvement. After all, most educators have spent four or five years preparing to enter the profession—taking courses on content and pedagogy, observing students and teachers in classrooms, completing student teaching under the tutelage of a veteran teacher, and so on. Yet almost without exception, they admit that they learned more in their first semester of teaching than they did in the four or five years they spent preparing to enter the profession. This is not an indictment of higher education; it is merely evidence of the power of learning that is embedded in the work.

Our profession also attests to the importance and power of learning by doing when it comes to educating our students. We want students to be actively engaged in hands-on authentic exercises that promote experiential learning. How odd, then, that a profession that pays such homage to the importance of learning by doing is so reluctant to apply that principle when it comes to developing its collective capacity to meet the needs of students. Why do institutions created for and devoted to learning not call upon the professionals within them to become more proficient in improving the effectiveness of schools by actually doing the work of school improvement? Why have we been so reluctant to learn by doing?

 

Introduction to the Second Edition

ePub

We began the first edition of this book with a simple sentence: “We learn best by doing.” This axiom certainly applies to our own work. Since the publication of the first edition, we have made presentations to tens of thousands of educators, served on dozens of panels to answer their questions, worked with several districts on a long-term ongoing basis to assist with their implementation of the professional learning community (PLC) concept, and participated in ongoing dialogue with educators online at www.allthingsplc.info. This continuing work with teachers, principals, and central office staff from schools and districts throughout North America has given us a deeper understanding of the challenges they face as they attempt to implement the professional learning community process in their organizations. This second edition attempts to draw upon that deeper understanding to provide educators with a more powerful tool for moving forward.This edition makes editorial revisions throughout the book and offers several substantive changes as well, including those that follow.

 

Chapter 1 A Guide to Action for Professional Learning Communities at Work

ePub

We learn best by doing. We have known this to be true for quite some time. More than 2,500 years ago Confucius observed, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Most educators acknowledge that our deepest insights and understandings come from action, followed by reflection and the search for improvement. After all, most educators have spent four or five years preparing to enter the profession—taking courses on content and pedagogy, observing students and teachers in classrooms, completing student teaching under the tutelage of a veteran teacher, and so on. Yet almost without exception, they admit that they learned more in their first semester of teaching than they did in the four or five years they spent preparing to enter the profession. This is not an indictment of higher education; it is merely evidence of the power of learning that is embedded in the work.

Our profession also attests to the importance and power of learning by doing when it comes to educating our students. We want students to be actively engaged in hands-on authentic exercises that promote experiential learning. How odd, then, that a profession that pays such homage to the importance of learning by doing is so reluctant to apply that principle when it comes to developing its collective capacity to meet the needs of students. Why do institutions created for and devoted to learning not call upon the professionals within them to become more proficient in improving the effectiveness of schools by actually doing the work of school improvement? Why have we been so reluctant to learn by doing?

 

Chapter 2 A Clear and Compelling Purpose

ePub

Principal Cynthia Dion left the Professional Learning Communities Institute with the zeal and fervor of a recent convert. She was convinced that the PLC concept was the best strategy for improving student achievement in her school, and she was eager to introduce the concept to her faculty at the Siegfried and Roy Middle School (nickname: the Tigers).

On the opening day of school she assembled the entire staff to share both her enthusiasm for PLCs and her plans for bringing the concept to the school. She emphasized that she was committed to transforming the school into a PLC and that the first step in the process was to develop a new mission statement that captured the new focus of the school. She presented the following draft to the staff and invited their reaction:

It is our mission to ensure all our students acquire the knowledge and skills essential to achieving their full potential and becoming productive citizens.

The moment Principal Dion presented the statement a teacher challenged it, arguing that any mission statement should acknowledge that the extent of student learning was dependent upon students’ ability and effort. Another teacher disagreed with the reference to “ensuring” all students would learn because it placed too much accountability on teachers and not enough on students. A counselor felt the proposed mission statement placed too much emphasis on academics and not enough on the emotional well-being of students. Soon it became difficult to engage the entire staff in the dialogue as pockets of conversation began to break out throughout the room. Principal Dion decided to adjourn the meeting to give staff members more time to reflect on her mission statement and promised to return to the topic at the after-school faculty meeting scheduled for the next month.

 

Chapter 3 Creating a Focus on Learning

ePub

Principal Dan Matthews had worked successfully with a task force of committed teachers to build support for the professional learning community concept among the staff of Genghis Khan High School (nickname: the Fighting Horde). The task force drafted and the staff approved a new vision statement, endorsed their collective commitments, and established school improvement goals. The vision statement called for a school in which teachers would deliver a guaranteed and viable curriculum in each course that provided all students with access to the same knowledge, concepts, and skills regardless of the teacher to whom they were assigned. It also described a school in which the learning of each student would be monitored on a timely basis.

Principal Matthews and the task force hoped to use the vision statement as a catalyst for action. He asked department chairs to help teachers work together in their collaborative teams to clarify the most essential learning for students by asking, “What knowledge, skills, and dispositions should each student acquire as a result of this course and each unit of instruction within this course?” Matthews also asked the chairs to support the task force recommendation to help teams create a series of common formative assessments to monitor each student’s acquisition of the essential outcomes.

 

Chapter 2 A Clear and Compelling Purpose

ePub

Principal Cynthia Dion left the Professional Learning Communities Institute with the zeal and fervor of a recent convert. She was convinced that the PLC concept was the best strategy for improving student achievement in her school, and she was eager to introduce the concept to her faculty at the Siegfried and Roy Middle School (nickname: the Tigers).

On the opening day of school she assembled the entire staff to share both her enthusiasm for PLCs and her plans for bringing the concept to the school. She emphasized that she was committed to transforming the school into a PLC and that the first step in the process was to develop a new mission statement that captured the new focus of the school. She presented the following draft to the staff and invited their reaction:

It is our mission to ensure all our students acquire the knowledge and skills essential to achieving their full potential and becoming productive citizens.

The moment Principal Dion presented the statement a teacher challenged it, arguing that any mission statement should acknowledge that the extent of student learning was dependent upon students’ ability and effort. Another teacher disagreed with the reference to “ensuring” all students would learn because it placed too much accountability on teachers and not enough on students. A counselor felt the proposed mission statement placed too much emphasis on academics and not enough on the emotional well-being of students. Soon it became difficult to engage the entire staff in the dialogue as pockets of conversation began to break out throughout the room. Principal Dion decided to adjourn the meeting to give staff members more time to reflect on her mission statement and promised to return to the topic at the after-school faculty meeting scheduled for the next month.

 

Chapter 4 How Will We Respond When Some Students Don’t Learn?

ePub

Marty Mathers, principal of the Puff Daddy Middle School (nickname: the Rappers), knew that his eighth-grade algebra teachers were his most challenging team on the faculty. The team was comprised of four people with very strong personalities who had difficulty finding common ground.

Peter Pilate was the most problematic teacher on the team from Principal Mather’s perspective. The failure rate in his classes was three times higher than the other members of the team, and parents routinely demanded that their students be assigned to a different teacher. Ironically, many of the students who failed Mr. Pilate’s class demonstrated proficiency on the state math test. Principal Mathers had raised these issues with Peter, but found Peter to be unreceptive to the possibility of changing any of his practices. Peter insisted that the primary reason students failed was because they did not complete their daily homework assignments in a timely manner. He refused to accept late work, and he explained that the accumulation of zeros on missed assignments led to the high failure rate. He felt strongly that the school had to teach students to be responsible, and he made it clear that he expected the principal to support him in his effort to teach responsibility for getting work done on time.

 

Chapter 3 Creating a Focus on Learning

ePub

Principal Dan Matthews had worked successfully with a task force of committed teachers to build support for the professional learning community concept among the staff of Genghis Khan High School (nickname: the Fighting Horde). The task force drafted and the staff approved a new vision statement, endorsed their collective commitments, and established school improvement goals. The vision statement called for a school in which teachers would deliver a guaranteed and viable curriculum in each course that provided all students with access to the same knowledge, concepts, and skills regardless of the teacher to whom they were assigned. It also described a school in which the learning of each student would be monitored on a timely basis.

Principal Matthews and the task force hoped to use the vision statement as a catalyst for action. He asked department chairs to help teachers work together in their collaborative teams to clarify the most essential learning for students by asking, “What knowledge, skills, and dispositions should each student acquire as a result of this course and each unit of instruction within this course?” Matthews also asked the chairs to support the task force recommendation to help teams create a series of common formative assessments to monitor each student’s acquisition of the essential outcomes.

 

Chapter 4 How Will We Respond When Some Students Don’t Learn?

ePub

Marty Mathers, principal of the Puff Daddy Middle School (nickname: the Rappers), knew that his eighth-grade algebra teachers were his most challenging team on the faculty. The team was comprised of four people with very strong personalities who had difficulty finding common ground.

Peter Pilate was the most problematic teacher on the team from Principal Mather’s perspective. The failure rate in his classes was three times higher than the other members of the team, and parents routinely demanded that their students be assigned to a different teacher. Ironically, many of the students who failed Mr. Pilate’s class demonstrated proficiency on the state math test. Principal Mathers had raised these issues with Peter, but found Peter to be unreceptive to the possibility of changing any of his practices. Peter insisted that the primary reason students failed was because they did not complete their daily homework assignments in a timely manner. He refused to accept late work, and he explained that the accumulation of zeros on missed assignments led to the high failure rate. He felt strongly that the school had to teach students to be responsible, and he made it clear that he expected the principal to support him in his effort to teach responsibility for getting work done on time.

 

Chapter 5 Building the Collaborative Culture of a Professional Learning Community

ePub

Principal Joe McDonald was puzzled. He knew that building a collaborative culture was the key to improving student achievement. He could cite any number of research studies to support his position. He had worked tirelessly to promote collaboration and had taken a number of steps to support teachers working together. He organized each grade level in Nemo Middle School (nickname: the Fish) into an interdisciplinary team composed of individual math, science, social studies, and language arts teachers. He created a schedule that gave teams time to meet together each day. He trained staff in collaborative skills, consensus building, and conflict resolution. He emphasized the importance of collaboration at almost every faculty meeting. He felt he had done all the right things, and for three years he had waited patiently to reap the reward of higher levels of student learning. But to his dismay and bewilderment, every academic indicator of student achievement monitored by the school had remained essentially the same.

 

Chapter 5 Building the Collaborative Culture of a Professional Learning Community

ePub

Principal Joe McDonald was puzzled. He knew that building a collaborative culture was the key to improving student achievement. He could cite any number of research studies to support his position. He had worked tirelessly to promote collaboration and had taken a number of steps to support teachers working together. He organized each grade level in Nemo Middle School (nickname: the Fish) into an interdisciplinary team composed of individual math, science, social studies, and language arts teachers. He created a schedule that gave teams time to meet together each day. He trained staff in collaborative skills, consensus building, and conflict resolution. He emphasized the importance of collaboration at almost every faculty meeting. He felt he had done all the right things, and for three years he had waited patiently to reap the reward of higher levels of student learning. But to his dismay and bewilderment, every academic indicator of student achievement monitored by the school had remained essentially the same.

 

Chapter 6 Creating a Results Orientation in a Professional Learning Community

ePub

When Aretha Ross was hired as a new superintendent of the Supreme School District, the board of education made it clear that its strategic plan for school improvement was the pride of the district. Every five years, the board engaged the community and staff in a comprehensive planning process intended to provide a sense of direction for the district and all of its schools and programs. A committee of key stakeholders oversaw the creation of the plan during a six-month development process. Each member was responsible for reporting back periodically to the group he or she represented to ensure accurate representation and ongoing communication. The committee held a series of community focus groups to solicit feedback from hundreds of parents, analyzed quantitative data, and generated qualitative data through a series of surveys to community, staff, and parents. The district mission statement provided the foundation of the document:

It is the mission of our schools to provide a rigorous academic curriculum in a safe, caring, and enjoyable learning environment that enables each and every child to realize his or her potential and become a responsible and productive citizen and lifelong learner fully equipped to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

 

Chapter 7 Using Relevant Information to Improve Results

ePub

After attending a Professional Learning Communities Institute, the school improvement committee of Gladys Knight Charter School (nickname: the Pips) unanimously resolved to use the model as the framework for improving their school. Their principal pledged her full support for the initiative. Over the summer, committee members sent supporting materials and articles on PLCs to the entire staff. When the teachers returned in August, the committee convened small-group faculty meetings to respond to any questions and concerns regarding their proposal to implement the PLC concept.

The staff’s response was generally very positive. Teachers agreed it made sense to work together in collaborative teams once they were assured that work would occur during their contractual day. They acknowledged the benefits of working together to clarify what students were to learn. They agreed the school should build systematic interventions to ensure students who struggled received additional time and support for learning, and they supported the premise that common curriculum pacing was an important element in an effective intervention system.

 

Chapter 6 Creating a Results Orientation in a Professional Learning Community

ePub

When Aretha Ross was hired as a new superintendent of the Supreme School District, the board of education made it clear that its strategic plan for school improvement was the pride of the district. Every five years, the board engaged the community and staff in a comprehensive planning process intended to provide a sense of direction for the district and all of its schools and programs. A committee of key stakeholders oversaw the creation of the plan during a six-month development process. Each member was responsible for reporting back periodically to the group he or she represented to ensure accurate representation and ongoing communication. The committee held a series of community focus groups to solicit feedback from hundreds of parents, analyzed quantitative data, and generated qualitative data through a series of surveys to community, staff, and parents. The district mission statement provided the foundation of the document:

It is the mission of our schools to provide a rigorous academic curriculum in a safe, caring, and enjoyable learning environment that enables each and every child to realize his or her potential and become a responsible and productive citizen and lifelong learner fully equipped to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

 

Chapter 7 Using Relevant Information to Improve Results

ePub

After attending a Professional Learning Communities Institute, the school improvement committee of Gladys Knight Charter School (nickname: the Pips) unanimously resolved to use the model as the framework for improving their school. Their principal pledged her full support for the initiative. Over the summer, committee members sent supporting materials and articles on PLCs to the entire staff. When the teachers returned in August, the committee convened small-group faculty meetings to respond to any questions and concerns regarding their proposal to implement the PLC concept.

The staff’s response was generally very positive. Teachers agreed it made sense to work together in collaborative teams once they were assured that work would occur during their contractual day. They acknowledged the benefits of working together to clarify what students were to learn. They agreed the school should build systematic interventions to ensure students who struggled received additional time and support for learning, and they supported the premise that common curriculum pacing was an important element in an effective intervention system.

 

Chapter 8 Implementing the PLC Process Districtwide

ePub

Superintendent Matt Ditka prided himself as a take charge, action-oriented leader who wanted the very best for all of the schools in the Dunning-Kruger School District. When he identified a powerful concept or program that he felt would improve the district, he was determined to do whatever was necessary to introduce it to educators in every school.

Ditka was particularly enthused about the professional learning community concept after attending an institute on the topic. He was convinced that it offered the most promising strategy for sustained and substantive improvement for the schools in his district, and he resolved to make implementation of the concept a districtwide initiative. He provided the board of education with information about PLCs and persuaded the board to adopt a goal to implement the concept throughout the district. He also was able to win board approval for funding to train the principals and teacher leaders from every school to ensure they had the knowledge, skills, and tools to bring the PLC concept to life in their schools. He purchased books on the PLC concept for each member of the central office cabinet and every principal, and he encouraged them to visit schools that had been identified as model PLCs.

 

Chapter 8 Implementing the PLC Process Districtwide

ePub

Superintendent Matt Ditka prided himself as a take charge, action-oriented leader who wanted the very best for all of the schools in the Dunning-Kruger School District. When he identified a powerful concept or program that he felt would improve the district, he was determined to do whatever was necessary to introduce it to educators in every school.

Ditka was particularly enthused about the professional learning community concept after attending an institute on the topic. He was convinced that it offered the most promising strategy for sustained and substantive improvement for the schools in his district, and he resolved to make implementation of the concept a districtwide initiative. He provided the board of education with information about PLCs and persuaded the board to adopt a goal to implement the concept throughout the district. He also was able to win board approval for funding to train the principals and teacher leaders from every school to ensure they had the knowledge, skills, and tools to bring the PLC concept to life in their schools. He purchased books on the PLC concept for each member of the central office cabinet and every principal, and he encouraged them to visit schools that had been identified as model PLCs.

 

Chapter 9 Consensus and Conflict in a Professional Learning Community

ePub

David C. Roth, the principal of Van Halen High School (nickname: the Rockers), was annoyed. He knew how hard he had worked to build consensus for moving forward with the professional learning community concept. He provided the entire staff with research and readings on the benefits of PLCs. He sent key teacher leaders to conferences on PLCs and used those staff members as a guiding coalition to promote the concept. He encouraged interested staff to visit schools that were working as PLCs. He met with the entire faculty in small groups to listen to their concerns and answer their questions. Finally, at the end of this painstaking process, he was convinced the faculty was ready to move forward. He assigned teachers into subject-area teams and asked each team to work collaboratively to clarify the essential outcomes of their courses and to develop common assessments to monitor student proficiency.

Within a month, the sophomore English team met with Principal Roth to ask if the team could exempt one of its members from meetings. They explained that Fred made it evident he was opposed to the entire idea of collaborative teams and common assessments. Fred made no effort to contribute, and his ridicule and sarcasm were undermining the team. Principal Roth assured them he would look into the situation and attempt to remedy it.

 

Load more




Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000030395
Isbn
9781935542094
File size
2.64 MB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata