38 Chapters
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3 Transforming Groups Into High-Performing Teams

Cassandra Erkens Solution Tree Press ePub

Organizing school staff into meaningful teams and ensuring members have access to one another by addressing the issues of propinquity and time are essential structural issues that principals must address in a PLC. Changing structures, however, is never enough. In order to build and sustain the culture of collaboration focused on learning and results, principals must provide leadership and support to ensure their faculties use the team time wisely.

This chapter will focus on two important steps principals can facilitate to help transform a group of teachers into a high-performing team.

1. Engage teams in identifying collective commitments to guide collaboration.

2. Engage teams in working collaboratively to achieve SMART goals.

See “Critical Issues for Team Consideration” for the list of eighteen critical issues teams must address as they engage in the PLC process.

See “Why Should We Collaborate?” for a sampling of the research on collaboration.

Visit go.solution-tree.com/plcbooks to download these reproducibles.

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Chapter Four Facilitating Shared Responsibility

Cassandra Erkens Solution Tree Press ePub

A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good.

—Barbara Jordan

It never ceases to amaze us how many insightful leadership lessons come from the most unlikely sources. Consider the following excerpt from the classic children’s book Stuart Little:

Just as the sun was coming up, Stuart saw a man seated in thought by the side of the road. Stuart steered his car alongside, stopped, and put his head out.

“You’re worried about something aren’t you?” asked Stuart.

“Yes, I am,” said the man, who was tall and mild.

“Can I help you in any way?” asked Stuart in a friendly voice.

The man shook his head. “It’s an impossible situation, I guess.” he replied. “You see, I’m the Superintendent of Schools in this town.”

“That’s not an impossible situation,” said Stuart. “It’s bad, but it’s not impossible.”

“Well,” continued the man, “I’ve always got problems that I can’t solve. Today, for instance, one of my teachers is sick—Miss Gunderson her name is. She teachers Number Seven school. I’ve got to find a substitute for her, a teacher who will take her place,”

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Chapter 6 Delivering New Approaches to Assessment

Cassandra Erkens Solution Tree Press ePub


Delivering New Approaches to Assessment

For teachers to be able to develop new approaches to formative assessment and relate them to different theories of learning, they must be able to investigate and reflect upon their own classroom practices—particularly the way they question and give feedback to students.

Harry Torrance and John Pryor

The use of collaborative common formative assessments happens throughout the instructional process. When teams use small and frequent formative assessments, they can problem solve challenges along the way and reduce the number of students requiring re-engaged learning on the post-side of the summative assessment. During the formative phases of the journey, teams have entered their classrooms to launch instruction based on the diligent preplanning work they have done. In figure 6.1 (page 86), the smaller iterative cycle represents teachers responding directly to what is happening in their classroom.

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Chapter 4 Preparing the Foundation for Collaborative Common Assessments

Cassandra Erkens Solution Tree Press ePub


Preparing the Foundation for Collaborative Common Assessments

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.

—Alexander Graham Bell

It would be wrong to send teams off to employ common assessments—whether pre-endorsed or collaboratively developed—without setting the context and providing a firm foundation for the work. In an accountability-rich culture, it is readily assumed that any data generated are visible and therefore available for decision makers. When the stakes are too high, the process will not work to invite innovation and encourage practice improvement if it is not managed well.

Figure 4.1 frames the foundation by outlining the components that are within a team’s control and that must be part of the team’s work before and during the process of designing and employing collaborative common assessments.

Figure 4.1: The preparation phase for collaborative common assessments.

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4 Focusing on the Right Work

Cassandra Erkens Solution Tree Press ePub

If you have worked with staff to establish a common mission, shared vision, collective commitments, and mutual goals, you have laid the foundation of a PLC. If you and the staff have established the structures that support a collaborative culture, you have addressed an essential prerequisite for an effective PLC. If at that point, however, the educators in your building do not focus their collaborative efforts on the right work, there will be no gains in student achievement. One of the most important responsibilities of a principal in leading the PLC process is to ensure all staff members understand the nature of the work to be done and demonstrate the discipline to focus their collective efforts on that work. As DuFour and Marzano (2011) explain:

Collaboration is morally neutral. It will benefit neither students nor practitioners unless educators demonstrate the discipline to co-labor on the right work. The important question every district, school, and team must address is not, “Do we collaborate,” but rather, “What do we collaborate about?” To paraphrase W. Edwards Deming, it is not enough to work hard; you must clarify the right work, and then work hard. Effective leaders at all levels will ensure there is agreement on the right work. (p. 83)

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