Professional Learning Communities...really working
Here is Rick DuFour himself (I'm not sure why I put him on my blog, but I did.)
After attending the DuFour conference, I saw that the district was invested in Professional Learning Communities. Rick DuFour explained how his school, as well as others, handled such communities and made it valuable to their teachers, ultimately strengthening their teaching. Many at my table were skeptical wondering how many more meetings would be added to our plates, how many more grumbles would arise from the masses, and how would we possibly do more than we already are.
Several points impacted me:
* teachers need more time and that means that the district must give teachers time to work
with their communities
* teachers must be able to start with professional communities relating to content
* common assessments must be created...by the staff...not as finals, but to assess what our
students need and how we as teachers can help each other get stronger at what we're teach
I am the team leader for English 9 as well as sharing the position with Anne for English World Lit. I decided to put together an agenda to try out some of the DuFour concepts. I listed the skills we wanted our students to have leaving 9th grade (or 12th grade) and then had a place for our team to figure out how to "get there." We discussed norms--ideals and agreements we would all make in order to reach our goals. The team was amazing. Once we realized the common assessment was coming down the line and yet, that it wouldn't be forced, nor would it be a final, but a "test" to give our students 3 weeks into class and again at the end of the semester, the team was on board. We excitedly discussed how we all could benefit from each others' strengths. We agreed to meet every 3-4 weeks to "attack" a specific goal and define it further in terms of pacing (how long we should spend on it), terms of importance, writing, and reading strategies. How empowering!
I feel that our 2 development pieces this year: the grading conference and the collaboration conference immediately impacted my teaching and have improved what I do with students. How cool.