Friday, December 31, 2010

The Power of Connections

This school year has produced a lot of changes in my professional career. I have taken on a principal's position, built new relationships at a new school, embarked on the Professional Learning Communities journey, joined the Twitter world, and started a blog. It has been a rewarding year. My professional library has expanded to include other educators' blogs and I have learned so much from them and I will forever be indebted to those people. If you don't yet subscribe to blogs, I highly recommend doing so as soon as possible. I have read more this year than ever before, which was a goal of mine for this past year.

Recently I started following an author, William M. Ferriter on Twitter. He is the co-author of Building a Professional Learning Community at Work, A Guide to the First Year (my administrator's PLC is currently using this book for our book study). He is an author for Solution Tree which is a publishing/professional development powerhouse in the education world. The company's headquarters is located in Bloomington, Indiana.

When Mr. Ferriter noticed that my Twitter bio states that I am a principal in Bloomington, it sparked a nice conversation between the two of us. What comes next is the powerful part. Mr. Ferriter offered to help our Faculty PLC at an upcoming meeting. He also offered to Skype in to one of our meetings if we wanted. I was floored by his openness and willingness to offer his time and expertise to a total stranger. What a great opportunity to learn from the man who literally 'wrote the book.'

No final plans have been made but I know with certainty that we will take him up on his offer. What other way can a principal in Bloomington, Indiana get to speak directly with the author of the book he has been studying for three months? This opportunity presented itself through the Power of Connections.

Are you connected?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PLC Journey

My journey with Professional Learning Communities began in the summer of 2010 and it has been an incredible learning experience. What 'hooked' me are the four questions schools must ask when thinking about instruction.

1. What do we want students to learn?
2. How will we know when they have learned it?
3. What will we do when students don't learn it?
4. What will we do when students already know it?

When schools focus on these questions, student learning becomes the primary focus. All conversations based on student learning revolve around these four questions. Simply shifting our focus from teaching to learning is a powerful tool. Teachers have also shifted their thinking from 'my students' to 'our students.'

Our 'traditional' schedule has been reworked to include a daily, school-wide block of 30 minutes for targeted remediation/enrichment time. All available staff members and volunteers work with small groups of students during this time. We use the Response to Intervention model for the remediation/enrichment instruction. Student learning is our focus and the results, so far, are impressive.

Our teachers are changing the lives of our students every day! Check out the PLC website.