Uinta County School District #1
Weekly Newsletter, January 2018-Volume 11
The 3 Misconceptions of Collaboration by Greg Kushnir
Every year Solution Tree hosts PLC Institutes attended by thousands of educators from all over the world and these events are often transformational experiences for the educators who attend. I speak from experience as I had my educational epiphany the first time I saw Dr. Rick DuFour speak about the PLC process 16 years ago.
The enthusiasm in the room is contagious as educators learn about how to build a collaborative culture focused on ensuring high levels of learning for all students. At the end of the events, educators return home, armed with new knowledge to pass on to their colleagues and a renewed sense of hope in the art of the possible. A guiding coalition is formed, teachers are placed in collaborative teams, and the work begins.
What could go wrong? Unfortunately, what often plays out is that the renewed enthusiasm is quickly eroded because educators charged with implementing the PLC process succumb to the misconceptions of collaboration.
Misconception #3: Teams Are Committed To The Work of Improvement
A professional learning community is kind of like being pregnant: either you are or you’re not. I once had a principal tell me that their school was doing “PLC lite” which I understood to mean “PLC not at ALL”! The evidence I used to draw this conclusion came in a subsequent conversation where he told me that they hoped to have their LA essential outcomes completed this year. This sounded reasonable until he said they had been working on them for 4 years.
From time to time, I have been privileged enough to host educators from other parts of the country at my school because of my school’s inclusion on the allthingsplc.info website. During one such visit the principal told me that they had been a PLC for the past five years. My response to this statement was “Wow! You must have some excellent results.” To which she responded, “Well, we are really hoping they get better soon.” Both of these stories highlight the fact that neither school was truly becoming a PLC. (Related Blog: Is Your ‘Real’ PLC Getting Real Results?)
Both schools suffered from misconception number three: the belief that teacher teams are committed to the work of improvement. In reality, the vast number of failed initiatives we have subjected teachers to has led many teachers to develop a wait-it-out attitude. In other words, “this too shall pass.” Combating this attitude requires teachers to experience success through participation in the collaborative process. As Dr. DuFour says, the entire purpose of a collaborative team is to produce results. Results that change teacher practice and improve outcomes for both teachers and students. Teachers can only experience improved results if they become the most prolific learners in the school, which means they must do the work.
To ensure that the work gets done, a school’s guiding coalition must develop a sense of reciprocal accountability amongst all of the adults within the school. Reciprocal accountability means that everyone develops a sense of responsibility to not let anyone down by demonstrating commitment to doing the work necessary to move the school forward.
During the past eight years, my school’s guiding coalition has developed an internal system of accountability. All teacher teams use an agreed upon schoolwide template to describe the work their team will commit to (see a sample collaborative team plan template). In September, every team in our school uses this template to create a collaborative plan focused on ensuring high levels of learning for all students. In the first week of October, each team meets with the guiding coalition to discuss their plan, receive feedback and identify areas that they feel they need support from the guiding coalition. The conversation is a two-way street that flows out of a mutual commitment to continuous improvement. The teams understand that their responsibility is to create a plan that will actually produce evidence of increased student learning. While the guiding coalition accepts the role of creating the conditions for team success.
The collaborative team is the engine that drives the PLC process, but unfortunately, effective collaboration does not happen by chance. Rather, it is a byproduct of deliberate action. Understanding and addressing the three misconceptions of collaboration will definitely move a school closer to developing the collaborative culture necessary to become a PLC.
Congratulations Becky Symes!
A few months ago I nominated Becky for the First Lady's Leaders in Literacy Award. The process required many other letters of recommendation and additional information. Becky did not win this year's award. Last year and this year the winner wen to an organization. She was up against stiff competition. However, the Chair of the Board contacted her yesterday to tell her how impressed they were with her. They asked her to be on the Board. She accepted. I wanted to share this with you. We have amazing teachers and coaches and Becky Symes is leading that charge. Below is a link to the letters of recommendation from staff in support of Becky.
-Jerrod Dastrup, Principal of Uinta Meadows Elementary
Quality Counts 2018 Report Ranks Wyoming Seventh In Education Quality
CHEYENNE – Wyoming was ranked seventh nationally in education quality by Education Week’s 22nd annual report card. Quality Counts 2018 gave Wyoming an overall score of 81.1 out of 100 points and a grade of B-minus. Wyoming was scored the highest among western states, and first in school finance. The nation as a whole received a grade of C.
“The Quality Counts 2018 report shows that Wyoming has a strong education foundation,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “We are No. 1 in the nation in school finance because we fund our schools equitably, making sure that students in every corner of our state have access to a quality education. Now we must work to build on this foundation and continue to offer the best education we can to our students.”
The 2018 grades are based on three key indices: the Chance-for-Success Index; K-12 Achievement Index; and school finance.
THIS WEEK'S BIRTHDAYS!
29th-Norma Welling, Bill Jackson, Kallie Martin
30th-Kara Jessup, Christine Cope, Jacob Cowan, Kristen Hutchinson, Treisa Reichenberg, Luis Tautimer
2nd-Marlen Pacheco, Marrie Mack
3rd-Laura Cook, Amie Dean, Diana Garvin
Cheri Dunford, Supt., Board Exec. Assistant Ext. 1021
Dr. Joseph Ingalls, Assistant Superintendent K-5 Ext. 1026
Doug Rigby, Assistant Superintendent 6-12 Ext. 1025
Alicia Johnson, Instructional Services Admin. Asst. Ext. 1024
Kristine Hayduk, Human Resources Ext. 1023
Matt Williams, SPED Director Ext. 1040
Shannon Arellanes, SPED Admin. Asst. Ext. 1041
Bubba O'Neill, Activities Director Ext. 1060
Dauna Bruce, Activities Admin. Asst. Ext. 1061