Ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the pain?)

Ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the pain?)
Show Description:
Last week you listened to Chad Dumas and I discuss PLCs. When we began talking, I had in my head the idea of a PLC being a discrete thing – group of teachers collaborating around honing their teaching skills. I suspect that most of you listening also had similar ideas – that PLCs were things we could drop into schools and have teachers “do.” However, as the conversation unfolded, Chad reminded me of some things I had forgotten, foremost of which is that PLCs are a culture, not a practice. In today’s episode, I’m going to briefly recap a couple of the main points from last week and then do a deep dive on how to implement a change in your school. I will use PLCs as an example, but the process will apply to any change you want to support.
Watching seeds that have been planted bear fruit:
·      Garden – peas, greens, strawberries
·      Relationships – most of the people you hear on this show become friends. The show isn’t an end, it is a beginning for those relationships, but also, I hope, for your own practice
·      Growing my speaking, slowly over time
Patience brings piece, helps me stay focused on process, not product
The Big Idea
Recap from last week:
1.     PLC is an ethos, the school is the community part of PLC, the team is just one feature.
2.     Within a PLC school, teachers use multiple forms of evidence to hone their craft.
3.     The first two critical questions that teachers ask are:
a.     What do I want students to be able to do?
b.     How will I know if they can do it?
4.     To change beliefs, we need to change behaviors
5.     “It starts with us! We can’t lead a change until we look in the mirror.”
6.     Three years to implementation
7.     Begin by asking reflective questions
What does a three-year implementation look like?
·      Train analogy:
o   The engine plants the seeds
o   The cars provide the momentum
·      Must be driven from the people who will be implementing the change (teachers)
·      Role of leaders:
o   Plant seeds
o   Support (organization)
o   Grow (teachers)
Fall 1: Plant seeds with teachers
Spring 1: Form a pilot – if teachers want it. No desire, no project (examine the alternatives)
Fall 2: Expand the pilot slightly, refine practices, gather evidence
Spring 2: Big expansion, still piloting, completely voluntary
Fall 3: Whole staff training and support
Spring 3: Anchoring (structures, language, processes, priorities, consistency) and expectations
Dissecting challenges to PLCs:
·      Org level
o   Schedule and lack of collaboration time
o   Competing demands, esp. other initiatives (e.g. resources)
o   Priorities and clarity of purpose
·      Teacher level
o   Skill to reflect deeply
o   Disposition to be vulnerable
o   Knowledge of specific practices (that second question is scary)
·      The challenge of alignment and the Six Dimensions
·      External forces and why it must be teacher-driven
Strategic Action Cycles as a way to pinpoint problems and drive incremental change
Summarizing (The big takeaway)
Wrap up:
·      Big change is hard: complex, messy, resource intensive
·      Sans drive from teachers and enough resources, don’t do it
·      The way you impact your school, is to support and grow teachers, whether it is PLCs, MTSS, PBIS, improving teaching, the process is the same.
I want to thank IXL for sponsoring this podcast…
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·      Leadership is a journey and thank you for choosing to walk some of this magical path with me.
·      You can find links to all sorts of stuff in the show notes, including my website
·      I love hearing from you so consider email me at or connecting with me on LinkedIn.
·      My new book, A School Leader’s Guide to Reclaiming Purpose, is now available on Amazon. You can find links to it, as well as free book study materials on my website at
·      Please remember to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast.
·      Have a great rest of the week, be present for others and, more importantly, take time to reflect and recover so you can continue to live and lead better.
·      Cheers!

Frederick’s Links:
The Strategic Leader’s Guide to Reclaiming Purpose:
Ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the pain?)
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