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ElizabethRose41

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Posts: 67
Reply with quote  #16 

My first year of teaching was as a kindergarten teacher.  All five kindergarten teachers met once a week for over an hour (the duration of our conference period plus half an hour when the school had other people step into our classrooms).  According to DuFour’s definition, it would be “collaboration lite”, though it was more in depth than that.  As a first year teacher, grade level meetings every week were incredibly helpful.  We planned as a group what we would work on in all the subject areas the following week.  Not every classroom was in the same place, especially the farther we got into the year, but as a general rule, we all went over the same topics around the same times.  It’s been many years, so I’m not entirely sure how much we talked about how to evaluate student progress.  Because of that, I wouldn’t call it a true PLC.  However, student evaluation was discussed at least part of the time.  We discussed and refined the list of concepts we would require students to master for the whole year in order to design the report cards at the beginning of the school year.   We decided how to handle all the benchmark exams that were required.  We shared ideas for teaching topics, so that each teacher went into the week with a large bank of ideas from which to draw from.   Students who were struggling were discussed in order to find alternate ways of helping them.   Later in the year, we actually ended up starting to write a kindergarten language arts curriculum to be used in the following years.  We were given subs for several days at multiple points to work on that curriculum.   Unlike some places, attendance was never a problem – it was required and built into our schedule.  But I never saw it as a problem.  It was the only thing that got me through that first year.  

Stephanie

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Reply with quote  #17 
Each year at my school we change/grow how our PLCs are used.  This past year my principal gave us an extra planning time that piggy backed on our regular planning for our PLC time.  This was a time that the administration staff took the kids and did lessons with them.  We were able to use the time to plan, collect, and demonstrate a specific topic- ie, a technology lesson.  Once each month after school we have a PLC meeting instead of a faculty meeting.  To be honest when we first started doing PLCs I wasn't really sold on the idea.  But as I have seen it improve with collaboration not only at our grade level, but across grade levels.  We are given an agenda on what our principal wants us to accomplish and we add what we want to do so our time is effectively used.  I am lucky that at my school our administration thinks that this is so important that they build this time for us.  The way we have come together as a staff to discuss school improvement plans, lessons, discipline has taken on a different perspective of how can we improve to help the kids instead of "this is just another meeting we have to come to and do/say nothing".  
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SKDroddy
hberdis

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Posts: 61
Reply with quote  #18 

“Collaboration lite”:  As a trade instructor of Office Administration, my curriculum includes units on Business English, Business Math, and Record Keeping. We also have academic instructors who teach reading, math, and high school (online).  Trade instructors were tasked with “collaborating” with academic instructors to present “applied academics” on a regular basis.  The “team” consisted of one academic paired with one trade instructor that was chosen by academic management staff.  DuFour’s classic assigning of “people to groups rather than teams.  "Members meet on a regular basis, but the essential elements of teamwork—interdependence, common goals, and mutual accountability—are nonexistent” (page 134).

“True collaboration”:  When I was student teaching 7th grade Pre-AP, the teachers had a conference period and a planning period during the school day.  Since we rarely had parents requesting conferences during the day, that became a time for individual preparation.  The planning periods were scheduled so that one day was with another teacher teaching the same material, one day was for all 7th grade, one day was for all math teachers (6th, 7th, and 8th), one was to review data (assessments, etc.).  There was also small remedial math classes for students who didn’t pass the previous TAKS or were struggling, which they took in addition to their grade level class.  This is the closest I’ve seen to true collaboration and it was very effective. 

Hcowham

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Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #19 
"No one 'finds' time for collaboration; we must make time for collaboration."
Describe an example of "collaboration lite" (chapter 7, page 134) you've experienced at your current or former work placr.
BONUS: Describe an example of true collaboration (a PLC?) You've experienced.
I agree with many people in this forum regarding how what was suppose to be a PLC was actually a non productive meeting. We actually assign roles to members such as time keeper, recorder, and mediator however, we had a lot of off track discussion and complaining. When administration would come it was like these same people were acting like the Bradley Cooper of PLC's. I really disliked that. My current campus has basically a PLC without fully calling it that and it is better. But because of my past experiences, when I hear PLC I have negative thoughts.
A true example has been experienced at my current campus. We meet every Wednesday with our in campus reading specialist and discuss data to drive our instruction (although we do sometimes get side tracked) and create assessments. She really works with us for and I love it. Also, our principal has on two or three occasions paid for full day subs for the ELA teachers to have a day to plan for several weeks at a time or even to cross read and grade student essays. That is so appreciated and we learn a grateful deal during these days. Although being out of the classroom for a full day is not ideal, the benefits out way that.
AMBean

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Posts: 70
Reply with quote  #20 
"No one 'finds' time for collaboration; we must make time for collaboration." 

Describe an example of "collaboration lite" (chapter 7, page 134) you've experienced at your current or former work place. 

BONUS: describe an example of true collaboration (a PLC?) you've experienced.

When I student taught, I was extremely disappointed with the lack of collaboration.  I would have liked to have met with the other English teacher to discuss how her lesson plans differed from my teacher's, but it seemed like that wasn't really an option.  They had a unit that they had taught a few times together, so maybe they collaborated at the beginning but didn't feel the need to do so anymore.  The other student teacher and I would talk about things over lunch, so that would qualify as "collaboration lite."  But it was sometimes hard to stay on topic, as we would talk about general classroom management issues and students with whom we were having difficulty.

I would love to teach somewhere with strong collaboration.  Teaching can be so isolating and overwhelming that it's necessary to learn what other teachers are doing and what successes they are having in the classroom.  I'd love to hear from fellow teachers who had a really great lesson plan or day in the classroom to learn about "what works" in the classroom.

When I taught at an alternative school, some teachers were the only teachers for that subject (physics for me, for example), so there wasn't an opportunity to collaborate.  We had a textbook and knew *what* to teach, but there wasn't much *how* to teach, which would have been very useful.  But sometimes it was just having the kids read the book and take the test so that they could get the necessary credits to graduate, which wasn't the most inspiring environment.

I liked the suggestions on page 130, such as banked time, but I wonder if those suggestions are actually implemented anywhere?
Dizzines3

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Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #21 

THE TASK:
No one 'finds' time for collaboration; we must make time for collaboration." 

Describe an example of "collaboration lite" (chapter 7, page 134) you've experienced at your current or former work place. 

BONUS: describe an example of true collaboration (a PLC?) you've experienced.

MY RESPONSE:

I am a Social Studies Teacher.  In my district our Social Studies coordinator creates collaborative teams as per the different grade levels to work on on the TEKS Resource Year At A Glance and scope and sequence of our content.  I have had the pleasure of being part of this team.  We focus on compiling the video clips, vocabulary, textbook resources and of course upgrade and according to DOK and alignment with Lead4ward towards STAAR.  After we present to the entire horizontal team as a district we then brake of creating Unit projects so at the beginning of the year we will have a strong framework to work with.  


We do have regular PLCs on campus on Mon. and Wed. These are Grade level meetings.  It does make it difficult for teachers who are teaching more than one grade level to find out what is going on really with the other grade level.  Tues. and Thurs. are reserved for Dept. meetings in the afternoon for planning or some other trainings.  We do at that time have data driven meetings along with the ELA Dept. which in turn becomes a this is how Soc. Studies will be helping us with Fig. 19 D,E, and F reading comprehension, TELPAS and 7th grade Writing STAAR.  Meanwhile when we do meet on our own on Thurs...it seems like we are imploding because...the pressure is also how is 6th grade and 7th grade going to help support towards building student knowledge capacity towards the 8th grade Social Studies STAAR.  This year was interesting...half way through the year we had administrative changes, teacher changes, and 7th grade ( my partner and I) end up teaching a 6th grade class. All of 7th grade and toward the end of the year... April- May We were teaching 8th grade so...our 8th graders would receive 2 periods of Social Studies with tutoring pull outs.  Yeah crazy.   Lesson planning collaborating for your content happened during your off periods and hope you don't have to make copies or have your classroom printer break down over the course of the week.  The thing is that we also had to call parents, RTI, 504, and have parent conf. during our off period too because depending on the day of the week you had to meet and be on time to the meetings which took all period so you would not be ready for the next class.  Lesson planning would continue to happen during the weekend.  My partner and I would face time and designate a time to work on it as a google doc.  Its a living document.  Thats just the lesson plan...its difficult to get the activities done and going too.  As teachers we need ample time to do this and the exams ( we would need to change the wording or create our own to align to STAAR quality and high DOK level of questioning.)  What I disliked the most was that everything we had planned as a horizontal team over the summer with our coordinator was out the window by Oct. or Nov. because of campus initiatives. We still needed to do projects...but because of the timing and scope and sequence we would cut it or change it up.  


I understand that we want our students to excel and our administration wants us to work at the same degree that we work within one grade level to replicate it with the other.  This would be difficult our our teachers.  For example 6th. grade and 7th. grade. This coming year we are to meet once a week after school with the 6th grade teacher not teachers ( its a dept. of 5) to plan for 6th grade and have it be carried out as we do full blast.  For teachers teaching 2 grade levels is crazy because your constantly working, planning, reading and learning along with your students.  Knowing or being familiar with all 3 grade level Social Studies TEKS.  News flash.  My partner is gone.  I will be honest... I have been on my campus for 6 years and I have seen 12 partners move in and out from the classroom across the hall.  Every year I have had to train teachers whether new or seasoned.  What does that say?  I love Social Studies...but in my data driven campus...the leadership needs to get their act together.  In the 6 years I have been at this high needs campus if I sleep 4 to 5 hours that is a good night.  As a type 2 Diabetic...at times the lack of sleep and the high demands have wrecked my body and health.  I tell my teachers its a roller coaster hold on.  I have worked under 4 dept. heads and they recently reinstated #2 once again as per the new principle.  I have seen our numbers drop drastically since dept. head #1 was there and were were on track and heading in the right direction.  Dept. Head #2 lacks leadership skills, she takes the credit and puts the blame and that is not good.  Everyone else is new and I work hard for a positive environment, I have been under that regime.  


Collaborative Planning in order to be successful need to have a purpose with target goals ( S.M.A.R.T.) in order for our students to be successful.  We need to learn to compromise, listen to suggestions ( agree to disagree) and take risks.  I believe that best teaching practices are all viable options.  There is no plan of action that is the best or perfect because its constantly changing according to the circumstance.  This is why I say that we must take risks.  As for my campus, Dept., our students and/or me...say a prayer and wish us luck.  I am really trying to stay positive and move forward trying hard not to look back.




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Ms. D. Palomo

" Share your heritage with a passion."
Dizzines3

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Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephanie
Each year at my school we change/grow how our PLCs are used.  This past year my principal gave us an extra planning time that piggy backed on our regular planning for our PLC time.  This was a time that the administration staff took the kids and did lessons with them.  We were able to use the time to plan, collect, and demonstrate a specific topic- ie, a technology lesson.  Once each month after school we have a PLC meeting instead of a faculty meeting.  To be honest when we first started doing PLCs I wasn't really sold on the idea.  But as I have seen it improve with collaboration not only at our grade level, but across grade levels.  We are given an agenda on what our principal wants us to accomplish and we add what we want to do so our time is effectively used.  I am lucky that at my school our administration thinks that this is so important that they build this time for us.  The way we have come together as a staff to discuss school improvement plans, lessons, discipline has taken on a different perspective of how can we improve to help the kids instead of "this is just another meeting we have to come to and do/say nothing".  


Its great to hear that your principals assisted you all with this.  PLCs if done right can be very positive and productive.  I would say that its much better than the "educational rounds."  Then again that depending on what administration and your peers are looking for. These are walk throughs that last up to 10 min. at any point in time during your course period.  The purpose is to see if students are attentive, engaged, and are they not only learning but speaking the academic vocabulary.  Within instructional rounds they make sure your content and language objectives are up, a guiding question is driving the instruction, and the children are aware of the TEKS they are learning.  The Admin or your peer will ask the students questions concerning the lesson plan for the day or what they did yesterday.  They will note the level and use of technology.  How you were doing, what you need to focus on and provide you feedback after the team provides you a score.  All this anonymous of course.


Its supposed to help the teacher, yet it saddens me that the instructional rounds were used to place people on "growth plans" not to help them, but push them for "non-renewal."   Look up the HEAT Framework I have done my best to compare my lesson plan activities make sure that they are a level 3 min. and above to stay clear.  Teaching is tough. I am glad that you have a great administration.

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Ms. D. Palomo

" Share your heritage with a passion."
51409

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Posts: 43
Reply with quote  #23 
Collaboration lite is a new term for me so if I had to pick an example from our campus it would be a grade level team going to get a coke at Pak a Sak during their PLC meeting. lol

As for a good example I would say I noticed that our fourth grade writing teacher (who is incredible by the way) meeting with grade level PLCs and teaching them about teaching writing and then she makes plans with them them to model teaching writing lessons in their classroom and then does that. 

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S. Braddock
mariannecowl

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Posts: 13
Reply with quote  #24 
"No one 'finds' time for collaboration; we must make time for collaboration." 

An example of "collaboration lite" (chapter 7, page 134) I've experienced at my current work place is our Language Acquisition planning meetings.  Our school considers the planning meeting as a PLC, however, after reading the majority of this book, it is not.  Sadly, I am the department chair who was given the position with no guidance, no direction, no support.  The only directive is for our team of 4 to meet everyday during our scheduled daily planning period.  Our PLC time consists of of a brief 10 minute meeting to discuss upcoming deadlines.  We have, on the other hand, become more of a PLC when we are addressing the International Baccalaureate unit requirements for our campus.  We discuss our district requirements and how best to implement them with the I.B. requirements (including formative and summative assessments).  With my new found knowledge from this book, I believe I am better equipped to lead my team of foreign language teachers as a PLC this school year.

sklearner2011

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Posts: 94
Reply with quote  #25 

Along the lines of "collaboration lite":  I’ve sat in on grade level teacher weekly meetings (1 hour) that simply decided what standards needed to be taught.  And then assessment questions were created.  I’ve also seen grade levels that had some of the teachers doing collaboration and some of them worked independently of the other grade level teachers (seemingly doing what they felt was best for their classroom and not really participating in collaboration with other teachers in their grade level).

True collaboration:  The school I worked part time at has PLC about every 4 weeks where grade level teachers meet to plan lessons for the following 6 weeks.  (Each grade level is given more than the usual planning period time.)  They decide how to align expectations to the curriculum/content that needs to be learned by each student.  Then they will set up weekly assessment and end of 6 week assessments.  They also look at pre-assessments to see where students are on a standard to better gauge where to begin.  Continuing Ed is also taught at some of these meetings.  For example:  a writing specialist comes in and meets with each of the grade levels.  The writing specialist and teachers discuss what students already know about writing.  Each grade level is taught:  How to plan writing, draft writing, and the end product.  The teachers bring in samples of student writing.  These examples are then used to discuss what can be done better and how to accomplish this.  The writing specialist teaches teachers how to better guide learning in writing expository and personal narratives.  The writing workshop takes place several times that school year.  And during some of the PLC meetings, math, ELA, and special education specialist also sit in to collaborate/coordinate with grade level teachers on what students need.  

mewisl

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Posts: 148
Reply with quote  #26 
At my current school, we have PLCs twice a week.  We have one for Math and one for Reading.  In Math, we discuss the unit that will be taught next.  We sequence the TEKS, discuss different ways to present the material and how to assess the students.  These meetings are an open exchange of ideas and growth.  In our Reading PLCs we have trainings on how they want us to deliver lessons, exactly how they want it assess, and how they want it graded.  These meetings are not as open for exchanging ideas.  Then once a week, we meet as a team to share ideas on how to plan and deliver Social Studies and Science.
cschneider

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Posts: 88
Reply with quote  #27 

DuFour’s description of “collaboration lite” was pretty much on the mark for what I experienced at former work places.  Once a year, usually at the beginning of the school year, all the course-specific teachers would meet to “collaborate”.  I recall the teachers that taught in a tested grade asking for certain science concepts to be focused on in younger grade levels to assist them in helping students master the tested objectives.  There were a few ideas/experiments/lessons shared, but there was only so much we could accomplish in the hour or two allocated to our collaboration during in-service.  There were also once a 6-week grade level/team meetings when I taught at a local Junior High.  I remember it just being a time we all vented or shared stories.  I wish I could share a true collaboration as described by DuFour, but, honestly, I’ve never really experienced it.  Several of my fellow teachers and I would informally collaborate throughout the school year, which was beneficial to the students, but a true PLC would have been amazing.  On page 132, DuFour describes a way to increase the time for teachers to collaborate at the secondary level would be to increase class size.  He backs up his suggestion with data.  However, in the 9 years that I taught science, this did not hold true for me.  There was more time for critical thinking, open-ended discussion, science activities, monitoring/checks for understanding, and more time to re-teach if necessary in my smaller classes.  Students were also more likely to take risks and share ideas in smaller classes because they weren’t as worried about their peers’ opinions.  I agree, that “no on finds time for collaboration; we must make time for collaboration.”  However, I strongly disagree with the idea that upper level teachers can do just as much with larger class sizes in our current school system.

raclark

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Posts: 95
Reply with quote  #28 
For several years, I was teaching physics with a very like minded teacher.  We collaborated all the time and were able to bounce ideas off of each other and create meaningful content for our students.  We had a common conference period and we also had a weekly PLC time that was built into the schedule. Students have late arrival every Thursday and a couple of times a month were devoted to our content.  We respected each other and were completely comfortable asking questions and asking for help.  This allowed for real time problem solving too since we were located next door to each other.  She moved last year and I miss that deep collaboration very much.  We worked with each other as equals and no one's ego got in the way.  It made for a wonderful teaching experience.  I have worked in other teams where one person runs the group and true collaboration does not happen.  
lmarvels

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Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #29 
I've been on a campus where the attitude of the administration was "you are degreed, intelligent, professionals that are aware of the standards and now have the student data so go and be great teaching! What about planning and professional development? If left up to educators to "find" time for collaboration chances are it wouldn't get done. On some campuses time is allocated in the daily schedule where educators get together in a common meeting place to discuss student achievement, etc.
Often times the agenda is abandoned and people are browsing social sites via their mobile devices, discussing student behavior, grading papers, etc. How are these things beneficial to making sure our students are successful and productive citizens of society?
There's also been great collaboration on campuses that I've been on. We'd gathered data from student assessments to help plan future lessons, discuss unwrapping standards, shared student success stories and so much more. Productive planning and collaboration can be benefit not only the students but the teachers too.
Collaboration should be taken seriously and done correctly when given a chance to partake in it.
cnelson

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Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #30 
At the school where I work, our ELA team meets every Wednesday during our conference time.  Sometimes we look at data, sometimes we plan our curriculum, sometimes the reading specialist gives us information from the district - overall these meetings are very helpful. 

This coming school year we will be implementing PLC once a week.  It is new for our school and I hope the meetings are focused and productive.

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Chellie Nelson
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