Five Resources for School Leaders Starting PLCs from Scratch

A school principal buddy of mine who I’ll keep nameless for the time being reached out yesterday looking for a bit of advice.

His teachers are incredibly excited about the notion of becoming a professional learning community, but he isn’t sure exactly where to start in order to lay the right foundation for the work that they want to do together. 

He wrote:

“Not sure what I am asking here… I guess I just feel that I have teachers buying in now and I don’t want to blow it… but I also don’t want to have the time in which the focus is on conversations rather than actual doing.  I feel we have great conversations but these conversations don’t always lead to change.

As we are just starting out in September, we have 3 more staff meetings and a possible day in the summer to discuss/plan for PLC time next year.  Should the focus be purpose, process (norms, etc) for this year and the start of next year?

There are so many resources at All Things PLC that I am a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to look.  Beyond the Learning By Doing book, are there other key resources you would recommend me checking out this year and in the summer?”

As a guy who is pretty passionate about the power of professional learning communities, I get asked this question a bunch.  While there are literally TONS of good resources for helping school leaders to structure professional learning communities, finding practical starting points can be tough simply because there is SO much information to sift through.

Here are five resources from my own work that I think school leaders who are starting PLCs from scratch might find useful:

The Power of PLCs – One challenge that many school leaders face when moving their schools towards a more collaborative future is convincing teachers that PLCs can be something more than just another initiative.  Those leaders might find this post useful.  In it, I give a tangible example of how my own practice changed as a result of an opportunity to collaborate with my peers.

Don’t Skip Vision and Values Statements – On a more practical level, it is ESSENTIAL for school leaders to help their faculties define a set of tangible action steps that will guide the work of every learning team in their buildings.  In this post, I explain why vision and values statements matter so much and share the collective commitments and action steps that my school recently developed.

What DO We Want Students to Know and Be Able to Do and Practice-Centered Observation Protocol –  My buddy’s primary concern is that the time his teachers spend collaborating might not lead to any tangible change in practice.  That’s where these two handouts will come in handy.  Both are designed to help teachers keep the collaborative work that they are doing focused on student-learning.  They can serve as solid starting points for meaningful conversations.

Laying the Collaborative Foundation – In October of 2012, I spent a full day working with the Glenwood Leadership Academy — a progressive school in Evansville, Indiana that was working to cement their collaborative foundation as well.  This link connects to the workshop materials that I prepared for their school.  It is designed to introduce teams and teachers to a set of tangible first steps that schools can and should take in order to ensure that their PLCs get off to a solid start.

Does any of this look useful to you?

You can find the rest of my PLC content by poking around in the PLC category of my blog or by exploring the handouts from my two PLC books:  Building a PLC at Work and Making Teamwork Meaningful.

Are there any resources that YOU would recommend to school leaders interested in setting up PLCs in their buildings? 

_____________________________

Related Radical Reads:

PLCs: Why This?  Why Now?  Why Bother?

Why This, Why Now, Why Bother – Part Deux

The Stages of PLC Development

One thought on “Five Resources for School Leaders Starting PLCs from Scratch

  1. Matt Townsley

    As a leader in a district that’s been on the PLC journey now for a few years, I can attest that your suggested resources are sound. Two specifics that I think are worth noting (I believe they’re both embedded within your five suggestions)

    Rubric: “Building a Collaborative Culture” http://files.solution-tree.com/pdfs/Reproducibles_LBD2nd/buildingacollaborativeculture.pdf

    Scale: “Critical Issues for Team Consideration” http://files.solution-tree.com/pdfs/Reproducibles_SLGPLCAW/criticalissuesforteamconsideration.pdf

    We’ve asked our building/district leadership teams to complete the entire rubric from Learning by Doing (started last fall) and individual teachers (who later compare with their teams – started 3 years ago) to complete the scale on an annual basis. We use this information to track our progress as a system.

    Rubric example: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=c29sb24uazEyLmlhLnVzfHNjc2RwZHxneDo0MzY3ZDMzMjQ2Yjg3OWZm

    I will be bookmarking this post to share with area curriculum directors here in Iowa.

Comments are closed.