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PLC Tuneup

Page history last edited by Bill 2 years, 5 months ago

PLC Tuneup: Moving Learning Teams Forward


Direct link to this resource collection:  http://bit.ly/BSDPLCTuneup



One of the greatest challenges for anyone working to support the development of professional learning communities is the simple truth that learning teams within buildings are often just as developmentally diverse as the students in our classrooms.  That means principals, learning coaches, and district staff developers have to become skilled at (1). identifying the different stages of development that teams typically progress through and (2). providing targeted support that can help to move teams at different stages of development forward.  Both of those practices are introduced in this half-day workshop developed by Solution Tree PLC Associate and Author Bill Ferriter for the Burlington School District in Burlington, Vermont.  




Handouts for Today's Workshop

Handouts - PDF


Today's workshop is designed to introduce teams to a series of tools and templates that can help school and/or team leaders to provide differentiated support to collaborative groups.  As a result, it is ESSENTIAL that all participants have access to the tools and templates that we will be exploring together.  All of those tools and templates are organized in the PDF linked above.  Please consider printing a hard copy and bringing it with you to our training session on October 7th.



Slides for Today's Workshop

Slides - PDF


Linked above and embedded below are the slides for today's workshop.  It is not necessary to print these slides.  You may, however, want to download an electronic copy of the slides to follow along with during the workshop. 





Introductory Activity: Knowledge Cafe

Handout - Word

Handout - PDF


Most people would agree that restructuring as a professional learning community -- building a true spirit of collaborative reflection around practice -- has the potential to have a direct and positive impact on student achievement.  What's more, PLCs have the potential to have a direct and positive impact on teachers, making their work simultaneously more doable and engaging.  But most people would also agree that restructuring as a professional learning community can be incredibly challenging.  


To begin our workshop, we will engage in a Knowledge Cafe to get a better sense for just how successful your teams and schools have been at restructuring as professional learning communities.  What collaborative successes have you had? What collaborative struggles are holding you back?  What trends can you find in the successes and struggles of other teams in your school/district?  What feedback would you give to your school and district level leadership about the support that they are providing to learning teams?



Session 1: Carousel Brainstorming on Stages of Team Development

Handout - Word

Handout - PDF


The first step towards providing differentiated support for the professional learning teams in your building is to develop a better sense for the full range of abilities and beliefs that teams bring to the collaborative table.  In this Carousel Brainstorming activity, participants will reflect on the stages of team development by reading a series of short scenarios that describe the work of several different collaborative groups.  


While reading each scenario, answer the following questions:


  •  Story One:  From the evidence that you can gather in this story, what is this particular learning team doing well?  What kinds of professional learning team behaviors have they mastered?  What are they most likely to be ready to tackle next?
  • Story Two:  From the evidence that you can gather in this story, what is this particular learning team struggling with?  What challenges might they face in the future?  How do you know?
  • Story Three:  How would teachers in this stage of development likely feel towards professional learning communities? 
  • Story Four:  What kinds of skills does this team need to develop in order to take their work further?  If you were the leader in charge of supporting this learning team, what would your next steps be?
  • Story FiveMake a prediction about what will happen next to this particular learning team.  Explain the factors that will cause your prediction to come true.
  • Story Six: Create a metaphor or a graphic image that represents the learning team in your narrative story OR that represents the kinds of support that this team needs to move forward together.       



Session 2: Supporting Learning Teams One Step at a Time


During this session of today's workshop, participants will learn more about the six stages of development that most professional learning teams progress through.  The will also (1). be encouraged to identify the stages of development for each of the learning teams that they are charged with supporting and (2). be introduced to resources that can be used to move teams in each stage of development forward.  



Activity 1: Reading One Step at a Time


Reading Guide - Strengths and Weaknesses


In 2008, session presenter Bill Ferriter and his professional colleague Parry Graham wrote an article titled One Step at a Time that detailed six stages of development that professional learning teams move through during the course of their collaborative work together.  Spend a few minutes reading One Step at a Time.  While reading, use this reading guide to record the strengths and weaknesses of learning teams at each stage of development.



Activity 2: Reviewing Strategies for Support Table

Handout - Word

Handout - PDF


Now that you have learned more about the stages of team development that professional learning teams progress through, explore this table, which details sets of differentiated strategies for supporting the full range of learning teams in your buildings.  While working, brainstorm an adjective that best describes YOUR role in supporting teams at different stages of development.



Activity 3: Tracking the Teams in Your Building

Handout - Word

Handout - PDF


Before you can effectively support learning teams, you have to have a good sense of where they are developmentally.  Now that we have spent time studying the stages of team development and the kinds of actions that you can take to move learning teams in each stage forward, use this handout to record your initial perceptions about the learning teams that you are charged with supporting.  



Activity 4: Exploring Differentiated Resources for Supporting PLTs


The key to effectively supporting learning teams is (1). identifying their current stage of development and then (2). providing tangible resources and/or tools that can help them to move forward.  Below are a few tools that teams at different stages of development might find particularly useful.  Examine each resource and determine which stage of development that it is designed to provide support for:


Data Literacy Survey

Fist to Five Rating Tool

Intervention Tracking Document

Team Meeting Agendas

Evidence of Practice in Action

Assessment Practices We Believe In

Mid Year PLC Survey

Practice Monitoring Tool

Structuring Data Conversations

Peer Observation Protocol

Managing Team Based Conflict

Intervention Reflection Document


Your only hint:  There is only one resource for Filling the Time.  There are three resources for Reflecting on Instruction.  There are two resources for every other stage of team development.  



Session 3*: Using Surveys to Gather Feedback on Team Development

(*if time allows)


Providing support for all of the collaborative groups in a building depends on leaders who are actively monitoring -- and acutely aware of -- the developmental readiness of individual learning teams.  The surveys below can be used throughout a school year to gather feedback on just what your learning teams need in order to make progress together:


Professional Development Survey -- Designed to give learning teams the chance to identify the instructional reflection and team based collaboration skills that they are struggling to master.  


Evolutionary Checklist for Learning Teams -- Designed to give learning teams the chance to reflect on their progress towards mastering the personal dynamics and team-based collaboration skills necessary for functioning at a high level.  


How Healthy is Your Team Survey -- Designed to help school leaders gather feedback about the level of conflict on learning teams in their buildings.


The State of Our Learning Team Survey -- Designed as a more detailed look into the progress that teams are making in the areas of personal dynamics and collaborative task development.


Question to consider:  


  • Have you taken any steps to survey teachers on their collaborative strengths, weaknesses and/or needs?  Why?  Why Not?
  • Rank the four surveys above in order from "Most Useful for Our School" to "Least Useful for Our School."  Be ready to explain your rankings.  
  • How receptive are your teachers to completing surveys?  What explains their positive and/or negative attitudes towards surveys?  




Final Reflections: SWOT Analysis on Providing Differentiated Support to Learning Teams

Handout - Word

Handout - PDF


Let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you will face when working to provide differentiated support to the learning teams that you are in charge of leading.  Use the template linked above to guide your thinking.  Then, work with partners to answer the following questions:


  • Did members of your reflective group identify any strengths and/or opportunities that you hadn't considered?  Are those strengths and/or opportunities available to you?  Are they strengths and/or opportunities that you can cultivate? 
  • Are there any common patterns in the weaknesses and/or threats that members of your reflective group anticipate facing as they work together in the upcoming school year?  Can you identify potential solutions to any of those weaknesses and/or threats?   
  • Whose support will you want and/or need in order to successfully move forward with your efforts to provide differentiated support to the learning teams that you are charged with leading?  Are they already on board?  How will getting them on board make your work easier? 









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