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Leadership: Key Competencies for Whole-System Change

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7 Leadership Competencies for Whole-System Change (A Review)

Categories: School Improvement

(This post by Carri Schneider was originally published on Getting Smart.)

There are leaders, and there are EdLeaders. Then there are leaders among EdLeaders–like Lyle Kirtman and Michael Fullan. This expert duo, applying decades of work in the field, recently came together to write and release a powerful guidebook for leading systemic (and sustainable) change.

Leadership: Key Competencies for Whole-System Change, published by Solution Tree (a Getting Smart advocacy partner), is an important contribution to the field for a number of reasons.

Kirtman & Fullan’s book is:

  • backed by research;
  • situated in the context of learning innovations;
  • supported by real stories from practicing leaders;
  • grounded in a whole-system approach to change;
  • intended to spark action; and
  • built to inspire.

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Grouping by abilities

To Ability Group or Not to Ability Group? That Is the Question!

Categories: PLC

From Richard DuFour and Rebecca DuFour:

At a recent PLC at WorkTM Institute that included over 1,500 educators representing 14 states, it became evident that ability grouping for homeroom placement and/or core content instruction remains a prevalent practice in many schools and districts. Students are divided into low, middle, and high groups (or tracks, levels, etc.) based on last year’s test scores and/or teacher recommendations. The institute faculty challenged this practice citing John Hattie’s research in Visible Learning, which concludes that ability grouping is a detrimental practice for students—one that ensures that some students will not learn at high levels. Ability grouping is clearly a practice that is misaligned with advancing the mission that PLC schools embrace—ensuring high levels of learning for all.

At least one team of elementary teachers at the institute was convinced that ability grouping was not in the best interest of students or teachers, not only because of the research but also because of their own experiences. They explained that ability grouping was an expected practice in their school and district. During the institute, members of this team interviewed different faculty members, read Hattie’s synthesis of the research, and asked for the name of a school to contact that could share a different approach to grouping students for instruction. We recommended they contact the educators at Mason Crest Elementary in Fairfax County, Virginia. Jennifer Deinhart, K–8 mathematics specialist at Mason Crest, provided the following timely response. Our hope is that schools of every level across the world will take Jennifer’s great insights to heart.

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A letter sent across the globe

An Open Letter to My First-Grade Teacher

Categories: PLC

(Note: This is a guest post by Dana Solomon, Principal, Phillips Elementary)

I am a failure. Many define failure as lack of success and omission of required action. I would say that in my past, I qualified as a failure on both counts.

Today, as a principal in a school, I am always aiming for success for our students, our staff, and myself. I’m going into my fourth year as a principal and I’m more driven than ever toward success. But I am also a failure.

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Leaders need their own learning community

Leadership Needs Its Own Learning Community

Categories: PLC

Note: Casey Reason co-authored this post with guest-blogger Dr. Todd Nichols, Ed.D.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood.” The implication is that the life lessons we are meant to embrace cannot be learned unless there is a commitment to get in there and live those life lessons with a deep sense of awareness.   While Emerson didn’t elaborate, it’s clear that one of the best tools we have in making the most of our lived experiences is having the discipline to consistently reflect on those experiences in a deep and thoughtful way. While this is a great personal discipline, through PLCs we’ve come to understand that one of the best ways to improve that strategic reflection process is to use the power of a valued team or group. In your own professional life experiences, think about how many times you have had a series of experiences occur wherein those experiences were made much more valuable to you after you had the opportunity to reflect with colleagues on the meaning of those experiences and the takeaways that were most valuable.

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Assessment changes the game

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Assessment: The Game Changer

Categories: PLC

This is a guest post by Natalie Romero, Principal, Moriarty Elementary

At Moriarty Elementary School in Moriarty, New Mexico, our process of collaborating professionally has changed dramatically over the past 18 months. When we began the journey, the idea of gathering grade-level members together was not frightening; however, our typically brief conversations were not deeply academic or very student centered. Teams did not run from the idea of functioning as a learning community but, in hindsight, none of us really had a clear picture of the depth to which clear and collaborative discussions about instruction and student learning could improve achievement or change us.

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