Principal - November/December 2019 - 19

Engaging in more productive
discussions with peers results in
better learning for everyone.

don't teach things students already know,
understand, and are able to do.
Unfortunately, most PLC models fail to focus
on students' current level of understanding.
But it turns out that it's pretty easy to figure
out what students know through initial or preassessments, conferences, observation, and work
samples. We just need to make sure that lessons
are based on the data collected so that instructional minutes can be maximized.
"How do we move learning forward?"
encourages teachers to discuss their best
evidence-based ideas for improvement, including
instructional strategies and learning tasks.
Instruction to accomplish those tasks is also
important. Imagine a teacher leaving a team
meeting focusing on the need for students to
improve their speaking and listening skills and
deciding that round-robin reading-having
students read aloud from new texts-is the best
approach, although it has been considered poor
practice for at least a decade. The mismatch
between learning task and desired learning
outcome is a barrier to moving learning forward.
"What did we learn today?" involves team discussion about learning impact, as well as adult
learning. Teachers need to see student learning
as feedback and use evidence of learning to
change instruction. Sometimes, based on their
impact, teams need to focus on their own development. For example, the kindergarten team at
North Roads Elementary (another pseudonym)
noticed that the majority of students couldn't
identify the difference between one, two, and
three objects.
"We all taught this, but they really didn't get
it," one team member said. "My students have
worked on this idea during center time all week
long. Centers are clearly not working. We need
to look at other ways to engage them in this
content. We need to find some research on this
and learn some more. I have reached out to our
math specialist, as well."
"Who benefited, and who did not benefit?"
takes the previous question to the next level.
Teams need to talk about student learning and
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make adjustments in their course of action
for individuals, but they also need to examine
trends. Teams of teachers must consider their
impact on groups of students, such as those living in poverty, specific ethnic or racial groups,
or students with disabilities. A focus on equity
has been missing from most PLC conversations, and teacher teams need to consider the
ways in which they can remove the barriers to
students' learning.
3. Facilitate and Activate the PLC

The conversations that teacher teams have
relative to the discussion drivers noted above
can be difficult. Yet they have the power to
impact student learning in powerful ways. Our
experience suggests that this does not happen
simply when a group of adults gets together.
Sometimes, they get off-task and off-topic.
Other times, they avoid the difficult conversations that would move learning forward. In
some places, the solution has been a facilitator, but the role of a true facilitator is to avoid
direct participation in decision-making, which
can be a problem if the person facilitating is
a member of the team, has good ideas, and is
teaching students.
Thus, we focus on activators rather than facilitators. Teachers need to be activated to engage
in appropriate discussions that move learning
forward, and the activators need training to
organize team dynamics and mobilize supportive, collaborative learning. When they are
effective, student learning soars.
The PLC movement has had successes and
challenges. It's time to build upon the successes of the past to increase the efficiency and
effectiveness of teams. Students and teachers
deserve it. Engaging in more productive discussions with peers results in better learning
for everyone.
Douglas Fisher is a professor of educational leadership
at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at
Health Sciences High & Middle College.
Nancy Frey is a professor of educational leadership
at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at
Health Sciences High & Middle College.
John Almarode is an associate professor of early,
elementary, and reading education at James
Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Principal n November/December 2019

19


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Principal - November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Principal - November/December 2019

from the editor
Snapshots
5 Things
Intertwined for Achievement
Planting the SEAD
Making PLCs a Plus
Measuring Up
Look Out for the Leader
Engagement Across the Generations
The Sum of Its Parts
Putting the “Fun” in Fundraising
NAESP 2019 National Distinguished Principals
In the Spotlight
Practitioner’s Corner
Raising the Bar
Principal’s Bookshelf
School Law
NAESP Partners & Advertiser Index
Speaking Out
Parents & Schools
Parents & Schools
Principal - November/December 2019 - Cover1
Principal - November/December 2019 - Cover2
Principal - November/December 2019 - 1
Principal - November/December 2019 - 2
Principal - November/December 2019 - 3
Principal - November/December 2019 - from the editor
Principal - November/December 2019 - 5
Principal - November/December 2019 - Snapshots
Principal - November/December 2019 - 7
Principal - November/December 2019 - 5 Things
Principal - November/December 2019 - 9
Principal - November/December 2019 - Intertwined for Achievement
Principal - November/December 2019 - 11
Principal - November/December 2019 - 12
Principal - November/December 2019 - 13
Principal - November/December 2019 - 14
Principal - November/December 2019 - Planting the SEAD
Principal - November/December 2019 - Making PLCs a Plus
Principal - November/December 2019 - 17
Principal - November/December 2019 - 18
Principal - November/December 2019 - 19
Principal - November/December 2019 - Measuring Up
Principal - November/December 2019 - 21
Principal - November/December 2019 - 22
Principal - November/December 2019 - 23
Principal - November/December 2019 - Look Out for the Leader
Principal - November/December 2019 - 25
Principal - November/December 2019 - Engagement Across the Generations
Principal - November/December 2019 - 27
Principal - November/December 2019 - The Sum of Its Parts
Principal - November/December 2019 - 29
Principal - November/December 2019 - 30
Principal - November/December 2019 - 31
Principal - November/December 2019 - Putting the “Fun” in Fundraising
Principal - November/December 2019 - 33
Principal - November/December 2019 - 34
Principal - November/December 2019 - 35
Principal - November/December 2019 - NAESP 2019 National Distinguished Principals
Principal - November/December 2019 - 37
Principal - November/December 2019 - 38
Principal - November/December 2019 - 39
Principal - November/December 2019 - 40
Principal - November/December 2019 - 41
Principal - November/December 2019 - 42
Principal - November/December 2019 - 43
Principal - November/December 2019 - In the Spotlight
Principal - November/December 2019 - 45
Principal - November/December 2019 - Practitioner’s Corner
Principal - November/December 2019 - 47
Principal - November/December 2019 - 48
Principal - November/December 2019 - 49
Principal - November/December 2019 - Raising the Bar
Principal - November/December 2019 - 51
Principal - November/December 2019 - Principal’s Bookshelf
Principal - November/December 2019 - 53
Principal - November/December 2019 - School Law
Principal - November/December 2019 - NAESP Partners & Advertiser Index
Principal - November/December 2019 - 56
Principal - November/December 2019 - 57
Principal - November/December 2019 - Speaking Out
Principal - November/December 2019 - 59
Principal - November/December 2019 - Parents & Schools
Principal - November/December 2019 - 61
Principal - November/December 2019 - 62
Principal - November/December 2019 - 63
Principal - November/December 2019 - Parents & Schools
Principal - November/December 2019 - Cover3
Principal - November/December 2019 - Cover4
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