Monday, November 11, 2019

Are We Leading with an Equity Lens? Are We?

Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, John Almarode, Karen Flories & Dave Nagel
PLC+—Better Decisions and Greater Impact by Design

In 2011, and again in 2012 I had the opportunity to attend a two-day conference with Richard “Rick” DuFour and his co-presenter and wide Rebecca DuFour. It was early in my administrative career and I remember at the time just being memorized during both sessions. Not only were they a dynamic speaking duo, their message on Professional Learning Communities forever transformed my thinking of teaching and learning.

Moving forward with this new understanding I facilitated regularly scheduled PLCs. I was diligent in using the essential questions of a PLC to guide teacher's conversations. Looking back it was an incredible journey with teachers and teacher leaders. We dug deep into standards, assessments, interventions, and extensions of learning. I loved the process, every minute of it, but as I proceeded something was nagging at my thinking. 

Simply put, where was the conversation around instruction and the effectiveness it had on our students...each of them? In the book, PLC+ Fisher, Frey, Almarode, Flories, and Nagel have answered that question and reframed the original essential questions of a PLC. These new PLC+ questions include not only the impact of instruction but include fundamental values so the learning needs of students AND teachers are purposefully included.

The authors state, “PLC+ provides a framework for the planning and implementation of student learning as well as our own professional learning….The plus emphasizes not only the learning that we want to occur in students but also the teaching and learning component for ourselves as educators. This has been missing from past PLC structures. So, the plus in the PLC+ is you” (p. 8-9).  In addition, each of these new PLC questions is accompanied by “fundamental values” for every PLC+ conversation.

These fundamental values are what I am really excited about as a practitioner who leads PLCs in our school community...analyzing our learning design process with an equity lens. Are we developing and evolving our mindsets in order to established high expectations for each of our students? Are we growing and learning as educators while monitoring and evaluating our instructional impact? Are we focused on moving towards our goals which critical conversations in a culture of trust rather than blame? Are we identifying evidence-based practices that support and values culturally responsive teaching approach to each of our students? Are we?

Our PLCs can not fully respond to a loud YES to each of those questions...yet. And it is such a close yet for a team of educators who are incredibly invested in this collaborative framework. The authors remind the reader in the last chapter, “We never finish” (p. 180). Whew! This statement was an important reminder these questions and values are an “iterative process.” 

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