Saturday, July 18, 2015

School Leaders Guide to a REAL PLC


There have been a substantial amount of publications around the practices of a true professional learning community (PLC). I consider Richard and Rebecca DuFour the co-founders and front runners of these effective practices centered on student learning. The School Leader's guide to Professional Learning Communities at Work focuses specifically on the role of the building principal. It is a condensed read of less than 100 pages with links to on-line ready to use tools to move the thinking into collaborative conversations with staff.

Each chapter thoroughly and quickly reviews the commitments and responsibilities of a building principal to lead a PLC. The DuFours remind the reader, "It is not a meeting" or a "book club" (p.4). It is "an ethos that infuses every single aspect of a school's operation" (Hargreaves as citing in Sparks, 004, p. 48). My book is already worn and referenced for our focused work ahead as we implement year two of a school improvement turnaround grant.

The section in the DuFours’ School Leadership Guide is what I am most excited about.  This free on-line template is for the principal to use, "for the collective dialogue that takes place on a collaborative team after each common assessment” (p. 52). This is not only to ensure each student is learning, but you are using the "actual evidence of student learning" (p. 53) as the tool to facilitate the conversation of the essential learnings for the students, evaluation of the formative assessment, and to determine the instructional strategies’ effectiveness. Yay!

The DuFours conclude their book with this quote. "This is the role of the principal, a role that is daunting, but doable” (p. 89). I would add the role of the principal is also incredibly rewarding when you impact student learning and teacher effectiveness with shared ownership!

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