After an all-call, many unfamiliar faces gathered to greet me in the lobby. While I can’t remember the exact words I said, I do remember the gist of my very first message to my new staff, “My first objective will be to learn. Learn about you, what your hopes are, who our students need us to be. And while I’m learning, if there is something that needs to be changed, we’ll embrace that change together. We are a team and we are in this together.”
During that first summer, as a first-year principal, I sat with each and every staff member (teachers, secretaries, aids, custodians, cafeteria workers) and asked them what they hoped for our school, what they felt like our school needed and what I needed to know about them individually to help them be the best version of themselves. (Want to Know Your Team & School Better? Ask These 3 Questions)
These first conversations were the start to a very special story of which PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) have played a large and important role.
From those initial interactions to today, there has been as much inspiration, struggling, learning, leading, reflecting, connecting, sharing and growing as one team could pack into three-and-a-half years. We’ve identified some milestones important to our PLC story and outlined those in the timeline below. (Want details of any of these? Check out Milestones in Our PLC Story.)
As an example of our Sticky Core Value “The Genius of AND,” we celebrate the growth we’ve made through these milestones AND have a sense of urgency to continue to improve. This powerful combination is highly evident in our PLC work.
Currently, all of our committees, task groups, grade-level teams and any other connected group of team members is considered a PLC and has the common thread of being committed to team norms, agendas, and alignment to our four pillars (vision, mission, core values, and goals.) These PLCs showcase examples of shared leadership since most are led by staff other than myself or other administration.
Specifically, when our PLC Task Group leaders decided to lead and own grade-level PLCs, they also decided that, in order to complete the necessary work each week, they would need to increase these PLC meetings to twice a week. They used the loose/tight filter to create a common PLC Agenda which serves as a guide to ensuring these important efforts are focused and support our movement forward as a team. These agendas are linked to our staff website and the PLC Leaders are responsible for copying the slide to create each week’s agenda around the specific needs of their PLC.
Our PLC Task Group not only is connected through Voxer, but also convenes in person at least monthly to reflect on both accomplishments and areas for growth. This group of leaders, currently led by Lisa Wise and Blair Hicks, has been courageous and vulnerable with each other, willing to bring leadership difficulties to problem solve. They have embodied what it looks like to shed compliance in way that grows commitment to challenging but impactful work.
We like to remind ourselves that we are on our path to greatness. This path is ours, we are on it together, and we are more committed than ever to do the difficult but important work of moving forward. Our PLC work is vital to this journey and without it, I am certain we would’ve given into the forces of mediocrity many times.
Where is your school on the PLC journey? What challenges have you faced and what learning resulted? Together we are brilliant, so I’d love to connect! Tweet and tag me (@me1odystacy) or feel free to start a conversation by commenting below.