July 4, 2020

Middle School PLCs

This week I worked with middle school PLCs that have meeting time built into their school schedule weekly. The teachers work as a grade level team and belong to a house made up of a 6th, 7th, and 8th grade team. Students stay in the same house for the three years they are in the school. So teachers collaborate, work with the same students and build a curriculum across the three years.Consider how Richard DuFour’s comments from “Schools as a Learning Community” regarding a school, can apply to a team within a middle school house.

School mission statements that promise “learning for all” have become a cliché. But when a school staff takes that statement literally—when teachers view it as a pledge to ensure the success of each student rather than as politically correct hyperbole—profound changes begin to take place. The school staff finds itself asking, What school characteristics and practices have been most successful in helping all students achieve at high levels? How could we adopt those characteristics and practices in our own school? What commitments would we have to make to one another to create such a school? What indicators could we monitor to assess our progress? When the staff has built shared knowledge and found common ground on these questions, the school has a solid foundation for moving forward with its improvement initiative.I prepared the following questions to guide a conversation among the grade level teams as they discussed concerns about students:

Facilitator:

Have a teacher give a description of an individual or group of students that the teacher wishes to discuss.

Have the teacher share concerns, experiences, approaches and outcomes connected to the desired goals.

Have teammates discuss their experiences with the student(s) identifying similarities and differences.

Have the initial teacher identify an appropriate next step goal to achieve with the student(s).

Have teammates offer possible strategies for the teacher or team to implement.

Have the initial teacher select/identify a plan of action for implementation and select an appropriate date for sharing feedback. (If the teacher or team is lacking information to make a decision, the plan should be, ”What information needs to be gathered and who will take what responsibilities?”.)

Recorder:

Minutes should indicate the students discussed and action plans selected with check back dates.

A second set of questions was provided for the same content teachers in the house. (6th, 7th, 8th grade Language Arts teachers)

Share the current unit of study/standards that you are currently instructing. What are the major instructional strategies you are using for this unit? What have been your observations of student engagement and learning to date? What assessments FOR learning have you been (or will you be) using?

How are your teammate’s approaches similar and different?

What questions/insights would you want to share with your teammates in the other content and exploratory (art, music, computer, PE, etc.) areas?

What insights/questions would you want to share with the preceding and/or following grade teacher?

Insights:

How will these standards be approached in curriculum changes?

If, in a text adoption process, are there connecting insights?

Are there instructional resources that would assist student achievement of these standards?

Record: Insights, questions, and request.

 

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