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Chapter 5

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what it wants all students to learn, how it will respond when they do not learn, and what it wants its school to become, the entire school community must turn its attention to the issues of shared values and goals.

The Third Building Block: Values

How must we behave in order to make our shared vision a reality? While a mission statement asks the school to consider why it exists, and a vision statement asks what it might become, a statement of core values asks people to clarify how they intend to make their shared vision a reality. In the context of organizational development, the values question represents the essential ABCs of school improvement because it challenges the people within that organization to identify the specific attitudes, behaviors, and commitments they must demonstrate in order to advance toward their vision.

Research findings from both business and educational settings consistently cite the identification, promotion, and protection of core values as critical elements in ensuring the success of any improvement initiative. The significance of shared values emerges as a prominent theme in the literature on organizational effectiveness (Enz, 1986). Analysts describe it as the essential ingredient in excellent companies (Deal & Kennedy,

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4    Focusing on the Right Work

DuFour, Richard Solution Tree Press ePub

Focusing on the Right Work

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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Chapter 4: Strategizing for e-Collaboration

DuFour, Richard Solution Tree Press ePub

Kate sat staring at her computer screen. She had called Charles, her technology coordinator, and was waiting for him to return from a boating adventure so he could log in and take down what had become a disastrous attempt at virtual collaboration in her district. While she waited for Charles, she read through some additional posts regarding ELs.

Tammy, one of Kate’s favorite new teachers, had gone off on a tangent in this shared learning space about her frustrations in house-breaking her two new beagles, Lucy and Charlie Brown. She had posted pictures of the dogs and found humor in their disapproving reactions to her boyfriend. Following the thread were a number of unflattering comments that made the most of the relative juxta-position of men and barking dogs. To make matters worse, Kate noticed that one of her staff members had taken the opportunity to post her frustration with a particularly problematic student, whom she referred to by name, as well as the girl’s older brother, who had likewise been difficult to handle.

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DuFour, Richard Solution Tree Press ePub


Effective Schools research began in the 1970s by Ron Edmonds, Larry Lezotte, Wilbur Brookover, Michael Rutter, and others as an attempt to find schools that were consistently more effective in helping all students learn regardless of race or poverty. It was one of the first research models that disaggregated data. The following list, developed in the 1990s, summarizes what Lezotte (1991) has called the second generation of research on effective schools. It includes seven “correlates”—factors that are correlated with effective schools.

Effective schools have an orderly, purposeful, businesslike environment that is conducive to learning without being oppressive. Students work together cooperatively, respect human diversity, and appreciate democratic values.

The staff in an effective school demonstrates its belief that all students can attain mastery of the essential school skills. Teachers develop and implement a wide array of varied strategies to ensure that students achieve mastery. The school responds to and assists students who do not learn.

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3    Transforming Groups Into High-Performing Teams

DuFour, Richard Solution Tree Press ePub

Transforming Groups Into High-Performing Teams

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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