These are OUR kids [SLIDE]

Some of the most exciting work that I’ve ever done in my professional career was on the first professional learning team that I was ever a part of.

What made it so different from most of the collaborative groups that I’ve worked on was our genuine belief that EVERY teacher on our sixth grade language arts team was responsible for the success of EVERY student on the sixth grade hallway.

(download slide and view original image credit on Flickr)

When we looked at numbers — test scores, attendance patterns, student surveys, students in need of remediation — we didn’t see MY numbers or THEIR numbers.  Instead, we only saw OUR numbers.

And OUR collective commitment drove us to help one another.  To ask and answer questions about practice together.  To spot trends in what was (and wasn’t) working — not because we were playing some game of professional gotcha where spotting successful practice meant spotting successful people, but because spotting successful practice meant spotting solutions for helping kids to succeed.

That shared work was incredibly important for our kids.  Whether they ever sat in different classrooms, they were learning from all of us — which guaranteed them access to the best of what we knew as a learning team.

But just as importantly, that shared work was incredibly important to me.  Turns out that studying practice together in a safe environment where you can trust the intentions of your colleagues and where helping kids matters more than competing against the guy in the room across the hall can be a heck of a lot of fun.

Now don’t get me wrong:  Pulling off that “our kid” mentality on a learning team ISN’T easy.  It takes time, it takes the right kind of people, and it takes a bit of professional know-how about collaboration around student learning.

But when you get it right — when focusing on the OUR in YOUR becomes the norm instead of the exception to the professional rule — there’s nothing better.



Related Radical Reads:

Lessons Learned from One Fat Ox

The Power of PLCs

Why Parents Should Care about PLCs and Poor #edpolicies



Original Image Credit: Nice
Portrait of Tween Girl
by pictureYouth

Licensed Creative Commons Attribution on September
26, 2012


Learning by Doing: A Handbook for
Professional Learning Communities at Work

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  • Kristi N

    I think what you are saying is very true about professional learning communities. They take effort and they are not always easy but they are worth every bit of time you put into them to help students succeed academically. Believe it or not, I work in a school in 2014 who has still not fully welcomed the potential of PLCs and it is very disheartening to me. Their idea of PLC teamwork is a monthly grade level meeting. There is very little collaboration at all. I taught at a previous school where PLCs were fully functional and truly embraced the “our” students mentality. I found it rewarding to work with my grade level colleagues. They were able to help me see different and new ways of teaching and I looked forward to bouncing idea off of them on a weekly basis. I think that the biggest hang-up that my new school has with PLCs is that they are still in competition mode from days past. They do not want to be part of what you described as the “professional gotcha game” where they are told they are not doing the best for their students. I believe that if they realize that PLCs are not about pointing out their flaws but about doing what is best for student success they would be more on board.