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PLC Conference Reflection


I was very fortunate to spend three days last week with my new team at the PLC (Professional Learning Community) at Work Institute in St. Charles, MO. I will be honest, I really had no idea what a PLC was when agreeing to go to the conference. I just knew it would be a great way to meet and bond with my new staff. I assumed it was just another acronym of some program we would be implementing during professional development time. I WAS WRONG. Here are just some of the key things I learned from this great conference.


PLC is not a meeting, but a way of thinking

Schools need to move from meeting as a group where the focus is coordinating to being a TEAM where the focus is collaboration. This means the team is interdependent and everyone thinks in terms of “our students” and what can “we do” instead of “my” and “I.” High performing schools have teachers who hold each other accountable. Everyone carries their own weight!



Look in the mirror

The goal for all schools should be for ALL STUDENTS to succeed. When a student fails, we need to stop blaming everyone else such as their parents, their lack of effort and the lack of funding. We need to focus on what WE CAN CONTROL. But, when we KNOW BETTER we have a professional obligation to DO BETTER. If not we are committing educational malpractice. If we know that this grammar worksheet is not best practice, we are at fault by offering it.



Success for ALL students


Once again if the goal is for all students to reach proficiency, why do we put up so many roadblocks to allowing that success? Failure should not be an option, so homework should not be graded, late work should not be penalized, and assessments should be allowed to be retaken to meet the essential standards. We need to stop claiming we are getting students ready for the "real world." There is no research supporting that the more students fail the more responsible they will become...it is quite the opposite. I have been interested in standards based grading for a while and this conference confirmed for me that it is something I need to dig deeper and investigate for use in my class.


To reach this success, there must be systems in place to allow for the fact that every child will not learn in the same way or at the same rate. These intervention time must be scheduled in the school day and mandated for those who have not met the essential standards. We can NOT have below grade level tracks for students if we want them to graduate and be successful outside of high school. 


Start with essential standards


We have to start with the end in mind, meaning what are the "got to know" things that a students should leave your class with? There can be more "nice to know" standards throughout a unit or year, but we have to know the absolute essentials, so we ensure all students leave class with this foundational knowledge. At some point we need to get beyond "we need to cover EVERYTHING" and figure out what is essential, and teach less deeper. TEACH LESS, LEARN MORE. 



Once we have these standards, we should elaborate in a spreadsheet like this one by Mike Mattos. I plan on using this Google Sheet Template to work on my essential standards for each level. As a #deptof1, this is where I need your help! What are your essential pieces of knowledge that students MUST understand before moving on to the next level in Spanish class? If you have a document like this, I would love to see it! Please leave a comment or message with the "got to know" essentials in foreign language class!


If you are interested in learning more, you can also check out #atplc on Twitter or this website.

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