So our conversation on professional learning communities with Rick and Becky DuFour has gotten off to a great start, seeing librarians, school principals, professional developers and classroom teachers stopping by to learn and to lend advice.
Here are some highlights:
On slide four, Rick and Becky argue that one of the primary responsibilities of a school leader in a learning community is to maintain a "laser-like focus" on student learning. My question for school leaders is a simple one: Is maintaining that laser-like focus easy? What barriers end up distracting you from a focus on student learning?
Better yet, what do you do to make it clear to everyone in your school community that student learning is your first priority?
Slide 5 sees participants tackling a familiar topic: Finding opportunities to celebrate successes and to keep momentum moving forward. Melissa Smith, however, brought an interesting twist to the celebration conversation when she mentioned her school's tendency to celebrate missteps, too!
She writes, "One of our school's staff commitments is to celebrate success as well as missteps on our quest towards improving student learning and achievement. As we see it, you cant make mistakes if you are not trying anything new, so last year along with kuddos at staff meetings and the sharing of grade level success with SMART goals, we also had a party, sparkling cider, cake and noise makers to celebrate the mistakes we'll never have to make again!"
(I'm stealing that one, Melissa!)
On Slide 7, Dan Greenberg—a professional developer from Houston—brings an interesting question to the group when he asks, "In what ways do those of you who function within PLCs formatively assess your PLC practices?" I'm not sure about you, but my own professional learning community doesn't spend nearly enough time assessing our PLC practices—-so I'm looking forward to hearing the ideas that other participants share for measuring the progress of PLCs.
On Slide 9, Mr. Monkey—who wins the award for best Voicethread identity name—has all of us thinking because he sounds professionally exhausted. Frustrated by a learning team that runs contrary to his own deeply held beliefs about teaching and learning, he's chosen to step away from his team for the time being.
The question worth considering is what can school leaders do to make sure that motivated teachers like the Monkey—-who could be champions for PLCs in their corners of a school—never feel so frustrated or exhausted that they are ready to give up?
A pointer for participants: Many users have asked whether it is possible for one person to leave more than one comment on each slide. The answer is yes—and I hope you will! Ongoing dialogue between participants around one concept is what makes a conversation healthy.
When you do, though, you won't see a new icon added around our focusing quote. In order to keep a slide from getting cluttered with icons, whenever a participant adds a second comment to a slide, Voicethread adds the comment to the conversation without adding a new icon.
Other participants will know that you've added a second comment by looking at the timeline found beneath each slide, where they will see a new yellow comment tab. They will also see a yellow box—and a groovy yellow speech bubble—surrounding your icon.
Here's to hoping that you'll take the time to stop by our conversation before it ends on Friday! Not only will you learn a ton….we'll learn a ton from you!