Tag Archives: PLTs

Is Your Team “Flunking Unsuccessful Practices” Together?

Over the summer, I had the chance to hear Eric Twadell — the Superintendent of Stevenson High School District 125 in Illinois — deliver a keynote at a Solution Tree PLC Institute.

While his whole keynote was amazing, Eric shared a quote from a book called How Children Fail — which was written in 1964 by John Holt.  Holt’s goal was to study the characteristics of highly effective schools.

His main finding about exceptional schools is as relevant today as it was when first written over 50 years ago:

“The researchers then examined these schools to find what qualities they had in common.

Of the five they found, two struck me as crucial: 1) if the students did not learn, the schools did not blame them, or their families, backgrounds neighborhoods, attitudes, nervous systems, or whatever. They did not alibi. They took full responsibility for the results or non-results of their work.

2) When something they were doing in the class did not work, they stopped doing it, and tried to do something else. They flunked unsuccessful methods, not the children.”

Those are two really easy filters to evaluate the work that you are doing together, y’all. 

If you catch yourself coming up with alibis to explain away the struggles of your students, change is necessary.

And what change is the most important to embrace?  Start studying your practices in a systematic way.

Put evidence behind the impact that those practices are having on students — and then amplify those that work the best and give up on those that are doing little to move your kids forward.

The good news is that there’s nothing difficult about any of this.

Studying practices in service of student learning should already be a regular part of the way that you are doing business.



Related Radical Reads:

What Role Do Hunches Play in Professional Learning Communities?

Interventions are NOT Optional.

Our Compulsive Obsession with the Impossible Sexy. 


New #atplc Resource: Tasks Teams Tackle Document

One of the questions that I get asked all the time when I’m working with schools and districts that are functioning as professional learning communities is, “We get that we are supposed to ‘collaborate,’ but what exactly does that MEAN?  What does collaboration look like in action?”

The simple answer to that question is that collaborative teams spend their time working together to answer four questions for every unit in their curriculum:

  1. What do we want our students to know and be able to do?
  2. How are we going to assess the progress that our students are making at mastering the skills and content that we’ve identified as essential?
  3. What will we do to intervene on behalf of students who haven’t mastered the skills and content that we’ve identified as essential?
  4. What will we do for students who have mastered the skills and content that we’ve identified as essential before our teaching even begins?

To help learning teams better understand their work, I’ve developed a quick checklist of tasks that teams tackle when they are working on each of the four key questions.  

Check it out here:

Handout – Tasks Teams Tackle

What I love about using this document is that almost every team can find something that they are ALREADY doing, something that they are READY TO START doing, and something that they’d NEVER CONSIDERED doing.  The result:  Teams that walk away feeling better about the work they’ve done and excited about the work they are about to do.

So what do YOU think?  Is this a handout that you’d consider using with teams?  


Related Radical Reads:

I Finally Drank the Kool-Aid

Drinking the Kool-Aid, Part Deux