The Role of ESAs in Developing
Professional Learning Communities
and the Impact on Raising Student
AESA Summer CEO Conference
July 22, 2009
Mike Barney and Lanelle Gordin
Professional Learning Community?
What is it?
A PLC is composed of collaborative teams
whose members work interdependently to
achieve common goals linked to the
purpose of learning for all.
DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, and Many, 2006
The Big Ideas
Focus on Learning
All students can learn
We take responsibility to
ensure they learn
Collaborate on the right
Focus on Results
Measure effectiveness by
results, not intentions
The Big Questions
What do we want students to learn?
How will we know they have learned it?
What will we do if they do not learn it?
What will we do if they do learn it?
Collaborative teams within PLCs answer
Tasks of Collaborative Teams
Identify essential learnings
Create common assessments
Analyze assessment data
Plan instruction together
Related to the Big Questions!
Teachers have always done this independently; now we
are asking them to do them collaboratively. 5
…but norms of isolation, autonomy, and non-
interference among teachers make it difficult
The tasks of the PLC are not difficult to teach,
but the skills and dispositions necessary to
work on them collaboratively are difficult to
develop and maintain at a school or district.
Levels of Collaboration (Little, 1990)
Sporadic and informal exchange of information
engendering camaraderie, sympathy, and moral support,
completely free of any type of scrutiny.
Sharing ideas, materials, and opinions:
Rarely extends to direct commentary on curriculum and
instruction and is inconsistent from school to school and
from teacher to teacher within a school.
Characterized by interdependence, presumes a close
scrutiny of practices and working together to find the best
answers to student learning problems.
Joint work will not happen until collaborative
teams have developed high levels of trust and
the ability to engage in productive conflict.
Teams must be developed.
Collaboration does not just spontaneously erupt.
How can ESAs respond to the challenge of
developing PLCs under these circumstances? 8
Traditional Role of the ESA
Share the research and teach a protocol for
Identifying essential learnings
Creating common assessments
Planning instruction together
Instructional strategy workshops
Build an intervention plan
Teaching the tasks is not enough.
New Role of the ESA
Professional Development Plus…
Work closely—and on-site—with school and
district personnel to help them address system
and cultural issues that impede the development
of professional learning communities.
Consultation requires a different set of skills than
professional development 10
What is a consultant?
A consultant is a person in a position to have
some influence over an individual, a group, or
an organization, but who has no direct power
to make changes or implement programs.
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
The Consultant’s Frustration
The consultant’s deepest frustration is when
the recommendations are sound, but the client
chooses not to follow them.
The consultant’s job is to work with clients in
a way that increases the probability that they
will follow the advice and make the effort to
learn what they need to know.
The Consulting Framework
Consultancy Framework: The Flow of the Consultancy Process
Levels of Service Scales of Readiness Assessment Analysis Diagnosis and Design
Level 1: Requests Level 1 Level 1
Requests for a specific time and limited scope of work. Permission: What will the client allow you to Meet with principal/Leadership Team (or district team and principal) and Work is planned based on client outcomes and shaped through our
do? review API/AYP Data beliefs and principles
Examples: What are the client’s outcomes?
Step Up to Writing Workshops with no coaching/follow-up What does the data analysis suggest?
Data Teams Workshops with no coaching/follow-up 1 2 3 How will the work the client is requesting address the needs revealed
One-time Staff Development Meetings in the data?
Scope of Work: How much needs to be
accomplished? Summary of all data collected.
1 2 3
Level 2: Preparation for Systems Work Level 2 Level 2
Client wants to go deeper and there are foundational prerequisites that Level 1 plus request data profile, assess evidence of EPCs at district or Design strategies to put the first priorities in place as the foundation
must be in place to jump start the system. Timeframe: How long to complete the work? site level, and conduct walk-throughs, interviews, observations as for system-wide work
appropriate. Use the Principle Matrix, the Roles and Responsibilities First Priorities
Examples: Matrix, and identify tensions and barriers Start with leadership
Follow-up to DuFour Conference—school or district requests
1 2 3 Time for instruction and collaboration
assistance in developing as a professional learning community. Instructional materials are in place and staff is oriented to them
Transparency: How open and honest are the Summary of data collected Working knowledge of PLCs
lines of communication? Goals and monitoring
Level 3: Full System 1 2 3 Level 3 Level 3
Integrated work over broad period of time to build systems. Level 1 and Level 2 plus supplement information with LRE, ELSSA, and Co-interpret the current state of client’s system in order to design
APS for ELs and SWDs system-wide outcomes based on this Consulting Framework, the
Examples: Capacity: How prepared is the client to lead the Principle Matrix and the Roles and Responsibilities Matrix; identify
SAIT work? disconnects.
Summary of data collected
1 2 3
1= 2= 3=
Theory of Practice Guide to Develop an Appropriate, Ongoing Response
Beliefs about our work are contained in the Principle Matrix 1. Define the focus of the work (tasks, above the green line) by integrating:
Our focus from the Principle Matrix and Roles and Responsibilities Matrix (what we think their outcomes should be)
Beliefs about how we are as consultants: Client outcomes (what they think their outcomes should be)
1. We focus on real work with real people in real time making meaningful connections, striving for coherence, and What the data says about where they are.
2. Identify the cultural issues (relationships, below the green line) related to the work by working with the client to identify the tensions and
2. We build leadership capacity to lead the work. barriers.
3. We use professional learning communities as the vehicle for embedding our principles into our wor k. 3. Summarize the data collected
4. We model high expectations and high support with our clients in order for them to work with their staff and 4. Design the work:
students, putting no limitations on their abilities or willingness to do what is necessary to succeed. A. Reference beliefs in designing the work.
B. Based on the above information describe the current reality for
5. We focus on building a sense of possibility. this school or district.
C. Look for patterns in the information collected on the summary of data to determine reasonable outcomes for the school
6. We focus on having the right conversations with the right people, using crisis as strategic opportunity to move or district.
the system forward. D. Design the work. (Set specific, measurable goals.)
- Refer to the Roles and Responsibilities Matrix to identify who must
7. We foster deep learning and reflection, building a culture focused on alignment, adaptability, and resiliency. do what
- Refer to the Tool Kit for possible tools to address the issues.
8. We consider client principles in the work, integrating their desired outcomes and beliefs with our own as we - Consider potential client reaction as well as how to facilitate,
develop a working plan. implement, manage, and sustain change.
- Include coaching and consulting interventions.
9. We embed change theory models into our understanding of what is happening and what strategies will work. E. Implement the work: Identify who, what, where, and when.
F. Reflect on the effectiveness of the work after monitoring using
10. We approach our work with honesty and integrity, always providing more than is requested to maintain a artifacts and collected data.
positive collaborative relationship with our districts. G. Continue to refine the design of the work based on reflections 14
Consulting Framework: Theory of Practice
Problem solving requires valid data
Effective decision making requires free and open
Greater ownership happens when people have the
opportunity to influence decisions
Effective implementation requires internal
Compliance is never enough; there must be engagement
Peter Block, Flawless Consulting
RCOE Theory of Practice
We focus on real work with real people in real time making
meaningful connections, striving for coherence, and
We build leadership capacity to lead the work.
We use professional learning communities as the vehicle for
embedding our principles into our work.
We model high expectations and high support with our
clients in order for them to work with their staff and
students, putting no limitations on their abilities or
willingness to do what is necessary to succeed.
RCOE Theory of Practice
We focus on building a sense of possibility.
We focus on having the right conversations with the right
people, using crisis as strategic opportunity to move the
We foster deep learning and reflection, building a culture
focused on alignment, adaptability, and resiliency.
We consider client principles in the work, integrating their
desired outcomes and beliefs with our own as we develop a
RCOE Theory of Practice
We embed change theory models into our understanding of
what is happening and what strategies will work.
We approach our work with honesty and integrity, always
providing more than is requested to maintain a positive
collaborative relationship with our districts.
Consulting Framework: Levels of Service
Level 1: Requests
Requests for a specific time and limited scope of work
Level 2: Preparation for Systems Work
Getting fundamentals in place (e.g., core curriculum,
collaborative time, interventions) to prepare to reform the
Level 3: Full Systems Work
Might include work related to state and federal sanctions.
Consulting Framework: Scales of Readiness
What will the client allow you to do?
Scope of Work:
How much needs to be accomplished?
How long to complete the work?
How open and honest are the lines of communication?
How prepared is the client to lead the work? 20
Consulting Framework: Assessment Analysis
What data must be collected to determine how
to proceed with the work at the school or
Data about the System
Roles and Responsibilities Matrix
Six RCOE Principles
Tool: Principle Matrix
Principle Matrix: Key Behaviors Linked to RCOE Principles
Directions: Assess the school’s implementation of the six principles. Identify areas of strength, areas of refinement, and areas of growth.
1- Pre-Initiation Stage 2- Initiation Stage 3-Developing Stage 4- Sustaining Stage
District: _______________________________________________ School: ___________________________________________________
Leadership Data-Driven Decision Embedded Research-based System-wide Improvement Sustainability of Culture Change thru
Focused on Learning Making Collaboration Pedagogy through Monitoring and Systems of Support
Leadership Communicates a strong vision Provides easy access to data for Provides and monitors time, support and Knowledgeable and assists teaches Communicates and monitors research- Ensures that all systems of support address the priorities
for improving student learning teachers resources for collaboration with curriculum, instruction, and based practice, collaborative of the school
Focused on assessment processes, and student learning
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
Learning 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
Holds high expectations for Teaches and models use of data. Thinks and acts collaboratively to
implementing changes (e.g. data conferences) identify problems and develop solutions Holds teachers accountable for Purposefully connects people and programs to assure
embedded within the vision with 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 fidelity to core curriculum Reflects on leadership practices and cohesiveness
high level of support in terms of 1 2 3 4 the implementation of expectations at 1 2 3 4
time, money, and other Holds teachers accountable for Builds team leadership to facilitate every level
resources using data effective collaboration and fulfill school Regularly walks through 1 2 3 4 Supports and develops layers of leadership.
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 vision and goals. classrooms to inspect what is 1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4 expected and provides regular and Regularly reflects on the school’s
Intentionally influences both Uses data to inform leadership timely feedback progress toward short and long term Creates connections across collaborative teams within the
the formal and informal priorities and decisions and to Monitors, celebrates, and rewards 1 2 3 4 goals and modifies the approach as site, the district, and outside the district
organization toward fulfillment monitor progress products of collaboration needed 1 2 3 4
of school vision and goals 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 Assists teachers with selecting 1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4 effective instructional practices Actively involves parent and develops community
Intentionally develops positive 1 2 3 4 Creates systems that ensure student relationships
Demonstrates integrity through relationships among staff members learning including strategic and 1 2 3 4
alignment between the 1 2 3 4 Participates in professional intensive intervention systems for
communicated vision and day- development with teachers students The culture of the system is founded on three big ideas:
to-day behaviors All staff members are collaboratively 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 A focus on learning for every student
1 2 3 4 engaged in solving the challenges of A commitment to a collaborative culture
student learning Assists teachers with reflection on Prioritizes budget to reallocate A focus on results to drive responses to the
Fosters respect through skills 1 2 3 4 instructional practices based on resources to address real-time needs challenges of student learning
with tasks and people student learning 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
Develops a positive behavior The vision, values, principles, and priorities of the system
Builds teacher and student intervention system for the school have been collaboratively developed and articulated
leaders 1 2 3 4 across the system
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
Uses the nine EPCs as the foundation
for determining systems of support Systems of support connect programs, other schools, the
needed district office, the county office, exemplary sites, and
1 2 3 4 colleagues.
1 2 3 4
Tool: Roles/Responsibilities Matrix
Roles and Responsibilities
Leadership Focused Data-Driven Decision Embedded Research-Based System-Wide Sustainability of
on Learning Making Collaboration Pedagogy Improvement Culture Change
through Monitoring Through Systems of
and Response Support
District Articulates a viable Provides access to Negotiates collective Develops Clearly Uses the nine EPCs
Leaders vision and collaboratively bargaining administrators communicates district and the DAS as the
collaboratively developed standards agreements that knowledge of policies and foundation for
develops a LEA plan aligned assessments provide time for curriculum, expectations to determining systems of
for improving student and an electronic data embedded instruction, and relevant stakeholders support needed
learning management system for collaboration assessment
all schools Establish common Ensures that all
Holds high expectations Provides training, Holds schools systems across the systems of support
for district goals with Reviews district and coaching, and support accountable for district address the priorities of
high level of support in site level data on a for collaboration at fidelity to core the district
terms of time, money, regular basis with the school site curriculum Monitor the fidelity
and other resources district leaders to of program Creates systems that
determine priorities and Holds sites Regularly walks implementation and ensure student learning
Intentionally influences support needed at accountable for through classrooms effectiveness including strategic and
the governing board, all school sites. embedded to monitor intensive intervention
departments in the collaboration and expectations and Monitor district and systems for students
organization, Reviews site level data products of provides regular school-wide progress that are consistent
community, and with principals on a collaboration feedback on district priorities across the district
schools toward regular basis and use
fulfillment of district the information to assist Provides time and Assists schools with Engages in analysis Prioritizes budget to
vision and goals and the principal with opportunities for selecting effective about leadership reallocate resources to
program coherence selecting leadership principal and inter- instructional practices practices and the address real-time needs
priorities school collaboration and provides needed implementation of
Develops the capacity support expectations at every Purposefully connects
of district and site and Holds principals and District level of the system people and programs
student leadership schools accountable for administrators Intentionally to assure cohesiveness
using data collaboratively develops instructional Monitors student
Models expected monitor data, assess coherence across the placement, programs, Creates connections
behaviors and Provides training, district progress district. and achievement across collaborative
collaboratively engages coaching, and support toward goals, and results for all sub- teams within the
in problem solving with for data driven decision discuss strategies for Provided SBE groups. district, and outside the
schools. making at the school improving student approved district
site achievement instructional
materials for all Strategically manages
Guide schools to set students change across the
clear, attainable goals district
based on data
Consulting Framework: Diagnosis and Design
Use the collection of data (achievement,
interview/observational, Principle Matrix and Roles
and Responsibilities Matrix) to identify and
prioritize areas of focus.
Involve the client in the diagnosis and design of the
work to be done to create ownership.
Create a plan collaboratively.
Implement the plan collaboratively.
Reflect on and refine the work collaboratively.
Quality Assurance Process Contract
Originally called RCAT Plus
Quality Assurance Process Contract
The contract with CDE began in 2002 with 8 schools
in districts across California.
4 in southern California
4 in northern California
We took the process to each of these schools to assist
them with their student achievement.
An emphasis on Special Education students was
added to RCOE’s process.
Quality Assurance schools performed higher
than the state (California) and similar schools
over a five-year period, 2002-2007.
Students with disabilities improved
Success Begets Success
Because the process was as successful outside of
Riverside County as in it, CDE decided to scale-up
Now we are building the capacity of six county
offices of education and two large unified school
districts to engage in this process in their own
regions—through the ScaleUP Project.
Los Angeles COE Each team has
Madera COE selected three
schools to work with
Mt. Diablo Unified on this project. One
is documented as a
San Diego COE case study.
Understand consultation and develop a consultation
framework of their own.
Implement the six RCOE principles in the work with
schools/districts in their regions.
Collaborate with other ScaleUp participants to
How is this accomplished?
Six days of training per year in Riverside.
Documentation of progress in case study
Regular on-site coaching visits from ScaleUP
Monitoring visits by project managers.
Attendance at DuFour Conferences sponsored
by RCOE—plus targeted time with the
Scale-UP Day with the DuFours—
November 21, 2008
Team from Vicentia Elementary School in Corona-Norco USD.
The job of developing professional learning
communities involves more than installing,
managing, and engineering a plan. While we
do need to work with tangible methods and
structures, we must also learn to enhance our
efforts with the thinking of the social
We must learn the skills of the consultant!
Greatness is not where we stand, but in
what direction we are moving. We must
sail sometimes with the wind and
sometimes against it but sail we must, and
not drift, nor lie at anchor.
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell