We all need a little PLC

Show #7 A Little PLC

One of our most serious shows, we start the discussion of Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s). Specifically, we use DuFour and Eaker’s Book (Professional Learning Communities at Work – Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement) as a starting point. Here’s an overview of what we talk about:

Previous School Reform:

  • 1983 -National Commission of Excellence Movement – Consistent direction- schools just needed to do more!
  • Goals 2000
    • All Children will start school ready to learn
    • HS graduation rate will increase to at least 90%
    • American students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated compentecy in challenging subject matter (including English, math, science, history, and geography)
    • US students will be first in the world in math & science
    • Every adult American will be literate
    • Every school in America will be free of drugs & violence and will offer a disciplined environment that is conducive to learning
  • Restructuring Movement
    • site-based management
    • bottom up change
    • too vague
  • According to a recent report, most teachers believe that schools are doing as well as possible given societal problems and parental involvement. This would mean that school improvement must be made outside of school. This argument assumes that what happens in school is largely irrelevant.

Why has school reform failed:

  • The complexity of the task
  • Misplaced focus
  • Lack of clarity of intended results
  • Lack of perserverance
  • Failure to appreciate and attend to the change process

Next we discuss the characteristics of a PLC:

  • Shared mission, vision, values
  • Collective inquiry
  • Collaborative teams
  • Action Orientation & experimentation
  • Continuous improvement
  • Results orientation

Change is difficult:

  1. Allowing too much complacency
  2. Failing to create sufficiently powerful guiding coalition
  3. Underestimating the power of vision
  4. Undercommunicating the vision by a power of 10
  5. Permitting structural and cultural obstacles to block the change process
  6. Failing to create short-term wins
  7. Declaring victory too soon
  8. Neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the culture

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