An interesting question landed in my inbox the other day.
The author — charged with supporting principals in a district working to make meaningful collaboration happen in every grade level and in every school — asked, “What is the biggest mistake that you see the principals of professional learning communities making over and over again?”
My answer: The biggest mistake that I see principals in #atplc schools make over and over again is failing to recognize that the learning teams in their buildings are JUST as diverse as the kids in their classrooms. Each team brings unique sets of collaborative strengths and weaknesses to the table — and each team is ready to tackle different collaborative tasks at different times.
Successful leadership in a professional learning community, then, depends on the ability of a building principal to provide differentiated support for teams who are at different points in their collaborative journey.
Recognizing the important role that differentiation had to play in supporting professional learning teams, Parry Graham — the coauthor of my two books on supporting professional learning communities (see here and here) — and I worked to articulate six different stages of team development in an article for the National Staff Development Council. You can read about those stages here:
We also worked to clarify some of the steps that building principals can take to support teams at each of the six developmental stages. You can learn more about those strategies in this table:
Finally, effectively supporting learning teams depends on having a good sense of where each team in a building currently stands. Principals should constantly track teams, reflecting on where they are developmentally. This simple handout can be used to make that tracking easier.
Any of this make sense? More importantly, do you think any of this is helpful?
Related Radical Reads: