Day 1 of @SolutionTree #atplc Institute

I am 1 of approximately 650 people arriving from 7 different provinces and 1 state to attend Solution Tree’s PLC Institute in Edmonton.  Today was day 1 and after 1 keynote, 2 breakouts and a panel discussion I have lots to think about.

Tim Brown (@ctimbrown) opened the Institute with a keynote titled The Professional Learning Community Journey: Creating and Maintaining a Culture of High Expectations.  Some of the takeaway comments or points for me from this presentation were:

  • It’s not how long you have been teaching but if you have a growth mindset.
  • PLC isn’t another plate to add to your table – consider it your dishwasher.
  • Teaching practices do have a shelf life – and some of our practices need to be put up on the shelf and left there.
  • Three big ideas for PLCs:
    • Always focus on the learning
    • Work collaboratively on matters (only) related to learning for all
    • Team members hold themselves accountable to the results and look to continually improve
  • Essential, guaranteed, and viable curriculum needs to be determined and assessment link to these need to know ideas and concepts.
  • Four critical questions for PLC:
    • What do we want our students to learn?
    • How will we know they are learning it?
    • How will we respond when they don’t learn?
    • How will we respond when they already know it?
  • Assessment should give students a message of hope – that you aren’t there YET but how do we get you there (growth mindset!)

This opening session gave me lots to think about related to how we learn and grow as a staff with our students at Charles Bloom.

My first breakout session was facilitated by Francois Masse (@Fmasse001Mass) entitled Collaborative Common Assessments: Assess for Success.  In the keynote to start the day it was mentioned that common assessments was part of the PLC process and I thought this session would be a good place to gather some more knowledge.  The takeaways from this session for me were:

  • Asking the 5Ws about assessment and probably the most interesting discussion was around the Why Do We Assess Question
  • Determining the essential curriculum is needed before determining/creating common assessments (a common theme today)
  • Essential curriculum can be designed top down (highest grade to lowest grade) but delivered bottom up.
  • The 7 week cycle and checkups vs autopsy assessments of student learning
  • Celebrate the success during the cycle and checkups

The second breakout session was facilitated by Charlie Coleman (@Heart_Coleman) entitled Reading Intervention at the Middle School Level.  Part of the opening day keynote talked about interventions as part of the PLC process and I was intrigued by this session and how I could “borrow” ideas and strategies from Charlie for Charles Bloom.  The takeaways I had from this session:

  • If you talk about anything other than learning, collaboration or results you are not in PLC mode
  • Literacy across the curriculum and not just by the English or Language Art teachers
  • Move away from autopsy assessments to checkups (recurring theme today)
  • The need to determine the collective commitments as a group
  • Priority Learning Outcomes (essential curriculum) that leads to assessments of the essential to know ideas (recurring theme today)
  • The intervention pyramid and how do we all get better at our base of the pyramid interventions
  • We need to look at what already do and have?  Can we re-designate? What do we use? What do we need? Some questions we need to consider when moving ahead

The panel discussion at the end of the day re-emphasized some of the themes I heard emerging during the day.  However, one interesting discussion was the responses to functioning as a team and the difference between collegial and collaborative and how do have some of those difficult discussions on a team.  And I really liked this point, “the #1 pronoun is WE not I”.

I have heard of term PLC before and knew the potential of this type of process of staff learning; however, I didn’t fully understand the key components. While today showed me the guiding principles of PLCs and the common themes amongst all the sessions I attended were abundantly clear, I left thinking – where do we start?

Looking forward to Day 2 . . .


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