As a guy who has written and presented and consulted on the power of PLCs for over a decade, I’m always surprised by how little learning teams do to monitor their own health.
We write norms and outline a plan of action for our meetings at staff development days in August — and then we file those norms and action plans away in our team folders, never to be opened again.
No wonder we get frustrated with the progress we are making together. Without the regular implementation of clearly stated and agreed upon structures to govern our work, weekly meetings can end up feeling like a giant waste of time.
So here’s a challenge for you: Sometime in the next two weeks, sit down with your colleagues and complete a mid-year checkup.
Step 1: Have your team leader add all of your team’s commitments to the first column of this Team Meeting Evaluation Strip. Include both norms that are supposed to be governing your team’s weekly meetings and any specific structures or plans that were important to your team back in August. Here’s a sample of a completed Team Meeting Evaluation Strip.
Step 2: Set aside time for every teacher to reflect privately on whether or not your team is doing a good job honoring your commitments to one another. Explain to team members that any “NO” votes need to be backed up with both reasoning and suggestions for improvement.
Step 3: Copy your team’s commitments into the first column of this handout. Hang a poster sized version of the handout in a private space that team members can access. Ask team members to use sticky dots to indicate whether or not they think your team is honoring your commitments to one another.
Step 4: Use the completed “Sticky Dot Chart” to start conversations about the overall health of your learning team at your next meeting. Areas receiving lots of “NO” votes need to be revisited. Why is it that your team is struggling with those commitments to one another? What can be done to tighten your work in that area?
The simple truth is that the health of learning teams has to be monitored and addressed if collaboration is going to produce motivated teachers and meaningful results for kids.
The time you invest in reviewing the commitments that you’ve made to one another is time you invest into making your team stronger.
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