Eating an Elephant

I spent three days at the PLC institute in Florida last week. I got the honor to see Rick Dufour possibly speak his last keynote.  I have a sense of urgency and have come back inspired and amazed.  I feel like my mind is reeling about where to start and what to do first.  This is like eating an elephant, you eat it one bite at a time.  Here are my beginning next steps on my PLC journey:

  1. Start my journey on becoming more relationally intelligence.
    • When I finish working with others, review who I may share the outcomes with.  I also need to work on summarizing decisions made at the end of a meeting.
    • Use the phrases: Tell me more;  How could I support you in this work?  I need to seek to understand.
    • Listen without interrupting
  2. Analyze my mindset and shift it to a liberation mindset.
    • Read Will to Lead, Will to Teach
  3. Create white space daily to feed me in this journey.
  4. Begin the conversation about structures that does not create equality.

My list could go on, but I realize that if I list too many things, none will get done.  Dear readers, please hold me accountable.  Ask me how I am doing or let me know if I have not accomplished my steps.

You can read about learning at the conference here and here.


PLC Institute Day 2 & 3 Take Aways

Below are my notes from the four session that I attended:

In Praise of American Educators…and How They can Become Even Better

  • Greatest Generation of Teachers:
    • Highest graduation rate
    • Greater Access for low SES
    • Highest parent satisfaction rate
  • We must improve because consequences for failing are dire.
  • Fear does not motivate teachers or other knowledge workers….
  • Our national change initiatives only happen in the US
  • We can’t be like Finland because they have have a different system.
  • PLC can be the answer if we follow through and implement them.
    • deeply
    • overtime
  • We cannot take the easy way because change will not occur.
  • We need to do the right work and collaborate about a guaranteed viable curriculum.
  • Motivate teachers to change with Concrete Evidence of Irrefutably Better results and positive peer pressure


Teaching, Leading and Living a High-Energy and Well-Balanced PLC Life

  • Books to read: Power of Full Engagement, Social Intelligence, Flow
  • Only 31.4% of teachers are fully engaged according to a Gallup poll
  • Being engaged at work leads to better outcomes for students/teachers
  • When left to our own devices we would not fully engage in work
  • Teachers are more likely to be engaged when they are in the flow.
  • Flow-High knowledge & skills and High task challenge
  • How to avoid becoming high negative
    • Hang out with inspiring people
    • Participate in events that are inspiring to you
    • Get enough sleep and movement
    • Focus on your learning environment
    • Have a hobby
  • If you are out of balance it is in the inside not the outside
  • Internal balance requires white space
  • Be inspiring to others by:
    • Trust
    • Compassion
    • Hope
    • Stability


Developing a Stretch Culture

  • Principals are keys to an effective PLC
  • All things must be aligned-Policies, procedures and practices aligned to the mission
  • Teacher as a coach
  • Lots of Winners and celebrating their successes
  • Action stimulates hope
  • Get started now.


Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap:

  • Books to read: Tinkering towards Eutopia, Will to Lead, Will to Teach,  Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap
  • Original goal of education to socialize European immigrants
  • Instead of achievement gap use education debt
  • Functional Hypocrisy-We say learning for All, but the systems and mindset are not designed to accomplish it.
  • Education should not be meritocracy instead it should be an egalitarianism.
  • It does not mean that we take resources from one student to give to another student.
  • Two types of change that need to Technical-Structural (skill) and cultural(will)
  • We know what works thanks to Marzano and Hattie
  • Truly healthy culture creates policies and procedures that adopt learning for all.
  • Mindset impacts achievement gap
    • Superiority-paternalism(gossip), competition (NCLB), and standard bearing(my turn, your turn instead of reciprocal energy)
    • Victim-Irresponsibility, low motivation, low expectations
  • What we need is a liberation mindset:
    • Equality
    • Responsibility
    • Advocacy
  • If you are not sitting at the table, then you are on the menu.

You can read about day one here.

You can read about my next steps here.

PLC Institute Day 1 Take Aways

I have been lucky enough to attend a PLC Institute.  Below are some of my take away:

First Things First: Building the Solid Foundation of a PLC at Work

  • Book to read: How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation
  • Clarity precedes competence-We need to be clear in order for teachers and students to learn.
  • PLC is a process not an event.
  • Mission is just words if you don’t have a vision and make a commitment to action.
  • All needs to mean all  because of the changes in the economy.
  • We need to create some professional commitments to each other to accomplish our goals.

More Powerful than Poverty

  • Good teaching  is not what I do for my students.  It is what we do for our students.
  • We need to have the in-depth conversation about what does the standard really mean.  The teachers teaching the standards need to be the one having the conversations not be handed the work other did.
  • Do a few things really well.
  • We need to really dig into the research about what actually works in instruction.
    • Rigorous learning goals
    • Common formative assessment
    • Corrective feedback
    • Peer tutoring

Student Data Notebooks: Developing Ownership, Motivation and a Growth Mindset

  • When we build a common understanding, teachers will be professionals
  • Empowerment + Engagement=ownership of learning
  • Self-Efficacy effect size= .82 effect size
  • Data Notebooks fomralize self-analysis and goal setting.
  • Don’t let notebooks sit on a shelf.
  • Idea-students that need to be progressed monitor b/c of FAST testing need to set goals and start recording the progress monitoring to own the process.
  • Using SBAR rubrics with student reflections, help students grow.

My mind is spinning with ideas for district Teach magazine.  I also am excited about sharing the information with others.

Read day two and three reflections here.

Read about my next steps here.

My son’s Halloween Costume

In our house, Halloween is a big deal.  My son starts talking about costumes in August.  This year was no exception, I came home from work and he was decorating a banker’s box.  I asked him what he was doing, he said he is making his costume.  He wanted to go as Art.  I didn’t think much of it because I figured he would change his mind.  Of course, he did not. As it got closer to Halloween, I became more and more nervous.  The thought that came to me was “They’re all going to laugh at him.”  I worked hard to shut down my doubt and also my desire to make it about me.  In the end my son loved his costume and enjoyed the Halloween parade.  I give full credit to his teacher and the school he attends.  They created a safe space where he felt to create a costume that not every student would understand.  He felt safe to express himself.

This experience reinforced with me that culture is key. Without this positive uplifting classroom and school.  Danny would have not dared to go in a nontraditional route.  I would have been stuck at Target digging through the costumes to find the perfect one.

Thank you to every teacher that allows students to create and express themselves.  This is key to changing the world.014