21 Chapters
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Chapter 7 Using Relevant Information to Improve Results

DuFour, Richard Solution Tree Press 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.

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Chapter 5 Building the Collaborative Culture of a Professional Learning Community

DuFour, Richard Solution Tree Press 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.

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Chapter 3 Creating a Focus on Learning

DuFour, Richard Solution Tree Press 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.

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Introduction to the Second Edition

DuFour, Richard Solution Tree Press 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.

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Chapter 9 Consensus and Conflict in a Professional Learning Community

DuFour, Richard Solution Tree Press 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.

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