- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Solution Tree; 2 edition (September 25, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1934009598
- ISBN-13: 978-1934009598
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 10.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #655,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Building a Professional Learning Community at Work™: A Guide to the First Year (a play-by-play guide to implementing PLC concepts) 2nd Edition
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Graham and Ferriter set out to restore the faith of educators that their efforts can have a significant impact on student achievement. They weave a story that is both refreshingly candid and powerfully compelling. [They] write with the honesty and insight that can only be acquired through direct experience. One of the most common questions we hear from educators who become willing to implement the PLC concept in their own schools is, But where do we start? Graham and Ferriter have answered that question, very specifically, in this powerful book. It is a wonderful contribution to the literature on Professional Learning Communities at Work, and we highly recommend it to educators at all levels. --From the Foreword by Richard and Rebecca DuFour
What a terrific resource! The authors have done a great job of organizing Building a Professional Learning Community at WorkTM, starting each chapter with a real-life story and ending with a set of practical tools that have been well thought out. The Tools for 21st Century Learning Teams is a tremendously useful addition. This book is well-designed, well-written, and packed with useful information. I can see myself using it in my own work with professional learning teams. Kudos to the authors! You ve given educators a practical and engaging resource! --Anne Jolly, educational consultant and president of PLTWorks
Bill Ferriter and Parry Graham have put together a very accessible step-by-step guide on how to go about creating this kind of culture [professional learning communities], including ways to trouble-shoot potential challenges. The questions that it encourages readers to ask themselves and their colleagues might be the most important parts of Building a Professional Learning Community at Work™. --Larry Ferlazzo, ELL teacher and Edublogger, Sacramento, California
About the Author
Parry Graham is a middle school principal in Wake County, North Carolina. He began his career teaching high school German, and then left the classroom to work at Co-nect, a comprehensive school reform provider, where he designed and delivered national professional development programs focused on instructional quality and teacher collaboration. He has worked as an elementary and middle school assistant principal, and he currently holds a position as a clinical assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he completed his doctorate. Parry has published articles in the Journal of Staff Development, Research in Middle Level Education Online, Connexions, and TechLearning. William M. Ferriter, a National Board Certified Teacher, has been honored as a North Carolina Regional Teacher of the Year. Bill has worked as a contractor for Pearson Education Solutions, designing professional development courses that empower educators with twenty-first-century skills. His trainings include the creative use of blogs, wikis, and podcasts in the classroom; the role of iTunes in teaching and learning; and the power of digital moviemaking for learning and expression. Bill has also developed schoolwide technology rubrics and surveys that identify student and staff digital proficiency at the building level. Bill has published articles in the Journal for Staff Development, Educational Leadership, and Threshold. Starting in September, 2009, he will write a column on technology in the classroom for Educational Leadership. His blog, the Tempered Radical, earned Best Teacher Blog of 2008 from Edublogs. He is a contributor to The Principal as Assessment Leader and The Teacher as Assessment Leader (both Solution Tree, 2009).
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"Lacking any kind of organizational decision-making power, teacher leaders can only change the behavior and commitments of colleagues when they are committed to actively building positive relationships with peers" (39).
Over spring break I anxiously started and finished Building a Professional Learning Community at Work: A Guide to the First Year by Graham and Ferriter. I was really excited to read this book, not because I am a self-proclaimed expert in PLCs or even have any experience at all with teacher collaboration, but the idea of creating common assessments, building consensus about what it is all students should learn and be transparent with colleagues about successes and failures in the classroom has intrigued me ever since reading a few of the (in my opinion) more theoretical PLC books written by DuFour, DuFour and Eaker. This book claimed to be written BY practitioners (Ferriter is a teacher and Graham is a principal) FOR practitioners and it lived up to the claim.
In my nearly six years teaching, I have slowly realized as Ferriter and Graham suggest,
"The truth is, most teacher just don't talk about practice with one another" (50).
In my admittedly rare visits to the staff lounge, the talk is typically centered on weekend plans or recent sporting event successes and failures - adults being social and there's nothing wrong with that, I guess. When the phrase "teacher collaboration" comes to mind, I think of informal hallway conversations about weather-related dismissals or the timing of the upcoming pep rally. Other times, I think about all staff in-services or departmental meetings. Teachers "collaborate" from time to time, right?
"It's not whether teachers are collaborating - it's what they're collaborating about" (51, emphasis mine)
This book proposes specific tasks for teams to complete, "such as identifying essential curriculum objectives for the next quarter or creating common assessments..." (73) - just the kind of practical suggestions I'm imagining a true professional learning community needs as it begins the journey of trust, collaboration and transparency.
Yet another part of the book that stood out to me was describing collaboration as seen in many schools today and how it differs from that of a professional learning community.
"Unfortunately, many teams get complacent and fail to move beyond the simple sharing of instructional practices, while such conversations are a good beginning, the real work of PLCs is reflective and inquiry oriented, resulting in teacher learning and improved instruction" (73).
Ferriter and Graham describe the journey of a fictitious school, both the ups and the downs, as they begin to form grade-level, discipline-friendly professional learning communities. Coupling realistic scenarios with the theories such as proximal development and positive deviants make for a fresh mix of academic, yet practitioner-friendly commentary.
Most of all, I appreciated the pragmatic outlook expressed by the authors. Bill and Parry clearly articulate the work of a PLC functioning at a high level, scaffold the necessary steps to overcome the
inevitable obstacles, leaving the reader hungry to jump in and start the journey for him/herself.
Ready-made surveys, templates and PLC handouts are provided at the end of each chapter with digital copies are also available online. If you've read any of the DuFour, et. al books and are ready to put theory into practice and begin collaborating with your colleagues in a meaningful way, this book is for you.
It's written by teachers with teachers in mind. This is not a standard PLC theory and research dump. Parry Graham and William Ferriter follow a fictional principal and his core team of teacher-leaders as they work to reform their building as a professional learning community. The scenes in their PLC story serve as the launch point for each chapter. Each scene is followed by clear, concise analysis, an explanation of the underlying research, and practical recommendations for school leaders moving forward.
If the scenes feel staged at times, it's an easy flaw to forgive. Each line of dialog serves to illustrate a critical element of working in collaboration with others. While the story is fictional, it's clear that the authors have lived through many of the meetings and conversations portrayed in the book.
Graham and Ferriter don't shy away from the messy parts of teamwork, collaboration, and leadership. Sometimes teachers disagree. Sometimes they let each other down. Sometimes teachers hurt each other. More than once, I found myself cringing at the too-honest comments of teachers trying to figure out how to make collaboration work. If you've ever worked collaboratively with other teachers, you know that the results can be tremendous, but the process can get barbed and personal at times. In Building a PLC at Work, Graham and Ferriter point out common trouble spots in collaboration and share insights for overcoming the instances of friction in a collaborative team.
This book includes no shortage of research. These guys read a lot of really good books, and they apply fundamental principles from these books to education. If you've read and enjoyed books like Good to Great, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Here Comes Everybody, and Professional Learning Communities at Work, then Graham's and Ferriter's ideas will really resonate with you.
Reproducibles in every chapter help you to get started now. No need to wait for committees to form and surveys to be turned in. Building a PLC at Work includes sample meeting agendas and worksheets for every step of the process, from initiating informal conversations to reflecting on data conversations.
If you've been put off by the one-dimensional idealism of many PLC seminars or district workshops, Building a Professional Learning Community at Work will be a breath of fresh air. Graham and Ferriter unpack the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of reshaping a school as a professional learning community, and they cast a real-world vision for how schools can leverage collaboration to realize high achievement for every student.
There are several features that make this book stand out. First, each chapter begins with a scenario of the circumstances in an imagined school. The stories provide a look at the challenges that occur in various stages of making a major organizational shift. Backed with research, the chapter examines the challenges and provides insight into why these may arise and methods to assist in the shift. Finally, the chapter ends with reproducible worksheets, charts, and surveys to assist groups in their work.
I did not appreciate all the aspects that go into building a professional learning community at work. Reading the book provided me with insights for the future. It is a book that I will come back to over and over again. I read it cover to cover to get a broad overview. Now, as different situations arise, I can go back to particular chapters and utilize the worksheets or select recommended books to further my knowledge. The book helped me prepare for a recent workshop. The outcome of the workshop was a more dynamic and focused experience for all the teachers.
Mr. Graham and Mr. Ferriter have a wealth of information for people who are charged with creating a school dynamic of shared learning and growth for the benefit of students.