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					                                 TABLE OF CONTENTS


CHAPTER IV: FINDINGS………………………………………………………………………3
       Overview…………………………………………………………………………………3
       Introduction to Case Studies……………………………………………………………..4
              School 1…………………………………………………………………………..4
              School 2…………………………………………………………………………..7
              School 3………………………………………………………………………......9
       Cross Comparison Analysis…………………………………………………………..…11
       Emergent Themes………………………………………………………………………..12
              Theme 1: Support………………………………………………………………...12
                     Learning Leader………………………………………………………….13
                     Accessible and Supportive………………………………………………15
              Theme 2: Infrastructure……………………………………………………….…22
                     Collegial Teaching and Learning………………………………………...23
                     Shared Leadership…………………………………………………….…32
              Theme 3: Re-Culturing Evolution…………………………………………….…39
                     Shared Professional Commitment…………………………………….…39
                     Shift in Purpose…………………….…………………………………….42
       Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………….45

Figures, Tables and Appendices


       Figure 5: Emergent Themes………………………………………………………….….12

       Figure 6: District‟s PLC Flow Chart……………………………………………………..21
       Figure 7: School 2 PLC Meeting Chart………………………………………………….27
       Figure 8: District‟s SMART Goals Overview…………………………………….……..31
       Figure 9: Relationship Between PLC‟s and School Based Change…………….………..45

                                         1
Table 9: School Interview Participants……………………………………………………6
Table 10: Emergent Themes………………………………..……………………………13
Table 11: Summative Questionnaire Findings………………………………………….28
Table 12: Shared Leadership Findings from the Questionnaire…………………………35
Table 13: Shared Professional Commitment Questionnaire Findings…………………..40
Table 14: School 3‟s Cultural Shifts in a PLC: A Shift in Fundamental Purpose……….43


Appendix C: An Overview of the Questionnaire……………………………...…………47

Appendix D: Questionnaire Results for School 1………………………………..………49
Appendix E: Questionnaire Results for School 2……………………………………..…52
Appendix F: Questionnaire Results for School 3…………………………………..……56
Appendix G: Summative Questionnaire Scores...............................................................59
Appendix H: District‟s PLC Framework………………………………………………...60
Appendix I: District‟s PLC Sample Agenda…………………………..…………………62
Appendix J: District‟s Intervention Schedule……………………………………………63
Appendix K: School 1 1st Grade PLC Agenda..................................................................64
Appendix L: School 1 Form for Analyzing Student Work Samples……….……………65
Appendix M: School 2 Student Schedule………………………………………………..66
Appendix N: School 3 Minutes from a Language Arts PLC Meeting……….…………..67
Appendix O: School 3 „How to Know if You‟re a PLC?”……………………….……..69
Appendix P: School 1 SMART Graphing…………………………………….…………70


Interview Transcriptions
         School 1.................................................................................................................71
         School 2………………………………………………………………………...141
         School 3………………………………………………………………………...187




                                                          2
                                     CHAPTER IV: Findings

    If schools want to enhance their organizational capacity…they should work on building a
      professional community that is characterized by shared purpose, collaborative activity,
                            and collective responsibility among staff"


                               -Newmann & Wehlage, 1995, p. 37


       As outlined in Chapter I, the purpose of this research was to explore the relationship

between professional learning communities and school based change. Through investigating how

each of the three schools managed these two processes this study was be able to explore how

PLCs, leadership,culure and change interfaced to influence this relationship focusing specifically

on the: 1) facilitating and inhibiting factors involved in implementing and sustaining the PLC

model, 2) the impact of leadership and culture on the process and 3) the model‟s influence on the

school‟s systemic renewal capability. Chapter II presented and critiqued related empirical studies

surrounding school change initiatives, leadership, culture, and professional learning

communities. And Chapter III provided an overview of the methodology for this study.

       Chapter IV is an analysis of the data collected from this multiple case study and will be

divided as follows: 1) overview of the purpose of this study, 2) introduction to the three case

study schools, 3) and a cross case comparison of the emergent themes from the data. The four

research questions incorporating various elements of DuFour and Eaker‟s (2008) theory of

professional learning communities that were used to guide this study were: 1) What is the

relationship between professional learning communities and school based change, 2) What role

does leadership play in influencing professional learning communities and school based change,

3) What role does school culture play in influencing professional learning communities and

school based change, and 4) What role do group dynamics play in influencing professional

learning communities and school based change and how are they managed?

                                                 3
                                    Introduction to Case Studies

       The following narrative is intended to provide the reader with a basic overview of each of

the three case studies involved in the study.


School 1

       Each of the three schools selected for this study are part of the same rural school district

in the southwestern region of the United States which spreads across more than 2,400 square

miles. The district offices and the majority of the district‟s 28 schools are located in a town of

approximately 70,000, about two hundred miles outside Las Vegas, Nevada, but the first site

selected for this study was an elementary school located approximately 15 miles north of city

central. Home to approximately 30,000 residents, the only access in or out of the small town are

a scenic two lane road which weaves through rugged mesas and valleys amidst one of the state‟s

many national forests. School 1 originally opened its doors in 1985 and has strong ties with the

local community and surrounding towns as it is the only elementary schools within a 25 mile

radius and students are bused in from towns all around the area. Akin to the rural, farming

community in which it is located, a common site for the students as they run and play at recess

on the playground or on the and large green field adjacent to the school building is the familiar

grazing of a horse, goat or even occasional the rooster milling in the resident‟s backyards. When

the researcher walked into the building, every bulletin board, all free wall spaces even hung from

pegs in the ceiling were various colorful examples of student work. Coming in from the main

hallway there are only two choices, if one heads left they enter the realm of melodic rhyming

songs wafting down the hall and dozens of small children enjoying story time on the carpet, and

a left brings one into the realm of Pueblo Indian 3-D models and collaborative groups of students




                                                  4
huddled together as they work through a statistics problem in math. For all accounts, wherever

you look teachers are teachings, students are engaged, and school 1 is officially „in session.‟

       As in the other two case study schools, eight participants were selected from each school

to participate in interviews for a total of 24 interview participants. The interview participants

were selected based on their: (a) length of teaching experience (i.e.: novice, 1-4 years vs.

seasoned, 5+), (b) exposure and experience with the PLC model (ex: 1-3+ years), (c) the

participants professional roles (i.e.: administrator, team leader, staff developer, curriculum

advisor, classroom teacher, counselors), and their (d) gender and content/grade. The documents

collected from school 1 included: eight, one hour semi-structured interviews with administrators

and staff (refer to Table 9), a 21 question school wide survey on culture, multiple observations of

school wide PLC meetings, and related documents which included: a copy of the 1st grade team‟s

PLC binder (Washington County‟s PLC team of the year for 2008), planning documents, PLC

minutes, intervention plans, and other related documents.

School Demographics

       At the time that this study was conducted school 1 served approximately 289 students in

grades Kindergarten through fifth grade with a teacher/pupil ratio of approximately 1 to 24. Of

the 289 students, 142 were boys and 147 were girls. With regards to ethnic diversity nearly all of

the students were demonstrative of the rural northwestern region that it represented which is

largely Caucasian, specifically: 93% are Caucasian, 4% Hispanic, 1% African American, 1%

Pacific Islander, and less than 1% qualified as “other.” Their academic diversity was comprised

of 10 ESL students, 20 special education students and 100 students that qualified for Free and

reduced lunch. The diversity of the faculty was largely similar to that of their students, in that all




                                                  5
19 were of Caucasian descent, 4 of which were men and 15 women. Of these 19 faculty

members, 6 had earned a Masters degree or higher and 14 had been teaching for five or more

years. Principal of School 1, a native to the area having attended the same school district as a

child, had been serving as the school‟s administrator for four years. Previous to this appointment

he had 19 years of classroom experience, 18 of which were in the same school serving as a 5th

grade teacher. The overall demographics of those selected to participate in the interviews are

outlined in Table 9.



Table 9: School #1-3 Interview Participant Summary Table

   School #1
  Participants         Position    Years at school     Length of Teaching
                                                          Experience
 Principal 1       Principal              4                    23
 Teacher 1A          Staff
                   Developer              5                      5
 Teacher 2A           1st                 4                     16
 Teacher 3A           2nd                 2                      2
 Teacher 4A           3rd                 3                      3
 Teacher 5A           4th                20                     20
 Teacher 6A           5th                 6                      6
 Teacher 7A           5th                 4                      7
 School #2
  Participants         Position    Years at school     Length of Teaching
                                                          Experience
 Principal 2       Principal              3                    29
 Teacher 1B        Assistant                                   15
                   Principal              3
 Teacher 2B          6th LA               1                      1
 Teacher 3B          7th LA               1                      1
 Teacher 4B         Science               3                     12
 Teacher 5B        Counselor              3                      7
 Teacher 6B         6th Math              3                     25
 Teacher 7B         7th Math              3                     12
 School #3
  Participant          Position    Years at school     Length of Teaching
                                                          Experience
 Principal #3       Principal             3                    14

                                                 6
 Teacher 1C         Assistant              3                     11
                    Principal
 Teacher 2C           Staff
                   Developer               3                     12
 Teacher 3C         Math TL                3                      9
 Teacher 4C         English                2                      4
 Teacher 5C         English                3                     25
 Teacher 6C           Math                 3                      3
 Teacher 7C        Science TL              3                      9
 Teacher 8C        History TL              3                     18
*Team Leader


School 2

       Nestled off to the side of yet another growing residential section of the city, school 2 was

actually specifically designed by the principal and district to facilitate the unique needs of its

student population. Another unique characteristic about this second and largest case study site

was that the first year this intermediate school opened in 2006 serving it‟s 6/7th grade

intermediate school students, they were in an entirely different school building on the opposite

of town from where they are now. In 2007, with the completion of their new co-constructed

building, nearly the entire faculty and staff moved to their current building and the school they

had vacated actually became an 8/9th middle school and site number 3 for my study; a fact I did

not know until nearly midway through my interviews. During this transition from building to

building, school 2 also changed from a traditional seven period day to the block schedule they

currently use where classes are actually in 86 minute block as opposed to the districts norm of 55

minutes (Appendix G). At the time of this study, school 2 was the only school in the county

following this unique block schedule, one they say that was contrived as a way to facilitate their

multiple PLC groups. Even though this was a new building and location for the faculty and staff

of school 2, the majority of this team had been together for well over ten years.




                                                  7
       When walking into the spacious building one can‟t help but appreciate its unique

southwestern motif and generous use of artistic brickwork and windows. Both schools 2 and 3

were clearly newly constructed with all the perks that come with such recent innovation.

Another unique characteristic about School 2 was the fact that it was one of 47 middle grade

schools across 16 states to be named, “A School to Watch” by the National Forum to Accelerate

Middle-Grades Reform. In an article in published by District Administration: Solutions for

School District Management, Parker-Burgard quoted districts‟ assistant superintendant as saying

that School 2 designed their entire curriculum around the needs of their individual students and

that they have a lot of innovative programming. According to the National Forum schools

selected for this honor are: academically excellent, developmentally responsive and socially

equitable. The article also said that when they evaluated School 2 they found school whose

curriculum and methods – even the building itself- has been designed specifically to enhance

their effectiveness.

School Demographics

       School 2 serves a student population of 732 students and a teacher/pupil ratio of

approximately 1 to 32. Of the 732 students, 385 are boys and 347 are girls and not only were it

the largest of the three it was also the most diverse, at least in comparison to the other

intermediate schools (grades 6/7) within the district. Of their students, 76% were Caucasian,

17% Hispanic, 1% African American, 2% Pacific Islander, 1% Asian (1%) and 3% qualified

as “other.”. With regards to academic diversity there are 84 ESL students, 43 special education

students and 356 qualify for Free and reduced lunch. School 2 has a total of 40 total faculty

members, 13 of which were men and 27 women. Of these 40 faculty members, a fourth had

earned a Masters degree or higher and 35 had been teaching for five or more years. Similar to



                                                  8
many other schools in the districts whose faculties don‟t necessarily share the same cultural

heritage as their students, a common national trend, 98% of their faculty is Caucasian, one

member is African American and one is from the Pacific Islands. The Principal of School 2 has

been serving an administrator for 15 years; 8 years as an assistant principal, and 7 years as a

principal. She also taught for 13 years before she went into administration, for a grand total of

29 years, the longest of the three administrators.

       The documents I collected from school 2 included: eight, one hour semi-structured

interviews with administrators and staff (Table 9), a 21 question school wide survey on culture,

multiple observations of school wide PLC faculty meetings and PLC grade level meetings, and

related documents which included: a copy of the report outlining the national recognition of

„Schools to Watch‟ award the school received for being an exceptional PLC, information

regarding their unique PLC/student schedule, PLC minutes and agendas, test scores, emails, and

other related documents.


School 3

       When school 3 was first constructed in 2006 it opened as a 6/7th grade intermediate

school. The following year (2007) it became an 8/9th grade middle school as it was during my

study (2009-2010). A characteristic unique to school 3 is its proximity to its feeder schools. As

one looks out one of its many windows, one will see both the adjacent elementary school situated

directly across the street as well as the high school directly across from the parking lot. As

mentioned earlier, both school 2 and 3 were constructed with a uniquely southwestern motif.

When one first walks into the rather vast building off to the right is the school‟s office and

invariable student workers and staff are diligently working on this project or that, pausing to

greet new comers and to chat amicably amongst themselves. As one wanders down either


                                                     9
hallway and they jet off in opposite directions from the main foyer there is the typical hustle and

bustle of teenagers making their way to class or the occasional stray who has yet to arrive

following the familiar ring that announces that classes have yet again begun their ritualistic

countdowns. On the second level, right in the middle of the building facing west there is a

spectacular window that runs the length of the room, floor to ceiling and provides a truly

remarkable view as far as the eye can see of dramatic valleys and peaks, pockets or residential

homes, even the occasional outcropping of trees and rivers. A true visual masterpiece awaits

those who seek a haven for their secular studies. As one continues to make their way down the

upstairs hallway there are often strains of foreign languages from the language department and or

unusual smells or fumes wafting from the science wing. But invariably one will see teachers

chatting with a student regarding a missing assignments, students working with a partner or in a

collaborative group discussing a book they‟re reading in English or a math problem their

struggling with in calculus. Except for the typical hustle and bustle of class changes, the other

moments carved from the day are awash with moments of collaborative teaching and learning.

School Demographics

       At the time of my research the school served a student population of 677 students with a

teacher/pupil ratio of 1:30. Of the 677 students, 340 are boys and 337 are girls. With regards to

ethnicity, 90% were Caucasian, 4% were Hispanic, 2% were African American, 2% were Pacific

Islander, 1% Asian and less than 1% qualified as “other.” With regards to their academic

diversity, there were 9 ESL students, 58 special education students and 200 students that

qualified for Free and reduced lunch. School 3 has a total of 36 faculty members, 20 of which

were men and 16 women, the only school of the three with a larger male faculty than female,

again, somewhat of an anomaly in the educational field. Of these 36 faculty members, 12 had



                                                 10
earned a Masters degree or higher and 24 had been teaching for five or more years. Similar to the

other two case study schools 87% their faculty members are Caucasian as well, 6% African

American and 5% Pacific Islands, 2% Asian. Principal of school 3 and been serving as the

school‟s lead administrator for four years, since the school was first opened as a middle school in

2007. Previous to this appointment he served as a biology teacher at Pine View Middle school

for 6 years during which time he went back for his Masters degree, and then he transitioned to an

assistant principal position at Snow Canyon High School for 5 years. The overall demographics

of those selected to participate in the interviews for school 3 are outlined in Table 9.

       The documents I collected from School 3 included: eight, one hour semi-structured

interviews with administrators and staff (Table 9), a 21 question school wide questionnaire on

culture, multiple observations of school wide PLC faculty meetings and PLC grade level

meetings, and related documents which included: a copy of the report outlining the national

recognition award the school received for being an exceptional PLC, PLC meeting agendas, the

principals faculty PowerPoint presentation, school SMART goals, assessment data, and other

relevant documents.



                                     Cross comparison analysis

           "One aim of multi-case analysis is to increase generalizability, reassuring yourself that
 the events and processes in one well-described setting are not wholly idiosyncratic. At a deeper
  level, the aim is to see processes and outcomes across many cases, to understand how they are
    qualified by local conditions, and thus to develop more sophisticated descriptions and more
                                       powerful explanations"

                                    Miles and Huberman, 1994, p. 172


       The central research question of this multiple case study is, “What role does leadership

play in influencing professional learning communities and school based change?” Three


                                                 11
significant themes emerged from an analysis of the data and each theme will be discussed with

specific examples from the study's three cases. The main themes that emerged from the data

were: support, infrastructure, and re-culturing.


Figure 5: Emergent Themes


          Professional Learning Communities
               and School Based Change

                                                   Support

                                                   Infrastructure

                                                   Re-Culturing




                             •Instructional Learning Leader
       Support               •Accessible and Supportive

                             •Collegial Teaching and Learning
   Infrastructure            •Shared Leadership

                             •Shared Professional Committment
    Re-Culturing             •Shift in Focus



                                         Emergent Themes


Theme #1: Support

       The first major theme that emerged from the data was the critical role administrative

support plays in influencing professional learning communities, both at the district level as well

as at the school level. Nearly every interview participant from each of the three school sites made


                                                   12
some reference to the important role administration plays in influencing PLC‟s. A fourth grade

teacher described her impressions of PLC‟s: “Through PLC‟s we have been able to discuss

research-based ideas that can benefit all of our students and thus our school. We have supported

each other and have built relationships that make the feel of our school a positive one.” Sub

themes that emerged from the data regarding supportive leadership included: 1) principals

serving as instructional ‘learning leaders’, and 2) principals who were accessible and supportive.


Table 10: Emergent Themes

Theme              Description                                   Sub-Themes

Support            Administrative support (both district and     -learning leader
                   school based)                                 -accessible & supportive

Infrastructure     Organizational transformations require        -shared leadership
                   creating a systemic infrastructure            -collegial teaching and learning

Re-culturing       Operating as a true PLC requires cultural     -shared professional commitment
                   change and a paradigm shift to ensure the     -shift in purpose
                   success and sustainment of PLCs.



                                         Learning Leaders


  The Principal is the „Learning Leader‟ of the school. He/she must make student learning the
  focus of their attention. This responsibility cannot be abdicated to anyone else. The principal
 must develop a passion for learning and a vision for what the school can achieve. He/She must
                          do „whatever it takes/ to get everyone on board.
                                 -Washington County PLC Chart


        Leadership was noted time and again as an important factor in creating a culture where

challenging personalities and differing philosophies could work together to achieve what was in

the best interest of both the students and the school. Clearly, from both the interview data as well

as the questionnaire findings, leadership set the tone as each of the schools worked to address the

                                                 13
ongoing demands of an ever evolving educational system, focusing on: increased students

diversity; academically, economically, emotionally, NCLB and its appendaged expectations,

limited funding, etc. The principal, leading with and through others provided ongoing

instructional support and modeling the important role of being available. The principal from

School 2 described her role as a learning leader, “My role is also to give professional feedback,

and critiques that will help [my teachers] become more astute and better in [their] profession. I

do a lot of walk-throughs…My primary thing is to help that teacher be successful. A language

arts teacher from school 2 remarked on her impression of her principals observations, “Our

principal is always willing to come in and observe. So if she'd asked that we use data to drive our

instruction she comes in and looks for data. She does little things like that that encourages us to

move forward. She's constantly looking for ways to better our school” The principal from school

1 shared a similar sentiment regarding his role of providing instructional feedback to his

teachers, “Anytime I walk into a classroom it's with feedback, so that they know what I've seen,

and what I like. Every time I give them feedback on something really good that I saw and

sometimes there aren't any suggestions.”


       Teachers from each school, but especially School 3 repeatedly referenced how

meaningful it was to them to have a principal who also served as a learning leader, visiting their

classrooms on a consistent basis, either formally or informally and providing meaningful, timely,

constructive feedback. A team leader from school 3 remarked on the value they placed on

administrative walk-throughs:


       Our principal, AP, and staff developer, are all very active about observing in the
       classroom. They come into my classroom four or five times a quarter…I think that really
       helps. They can see what we are working on and that kind of helps drive the curriculum
       for our faculty meetings. They know what's happening in their classrooms”


                                                 14
Another element that emerged within the learning leader theme was the value of having

administrators who lead by example. Effective principals [school administrators] establish

credibility by modeling behavior that is congruent with the vision and values of their school

(DuFour & Eaker, 1998). By communicating daily with staff and students, principals established

personal credibility and reinforced desired values and behaviors around them. The assistant

principal from School 3 talked about his perspective on his leadership role:


       I really like to lead by example; I mean I really feel like I need to be out with my sleeves
       rolled up and showing everyone in the schools that I‟m willing to do whatever it takes to
       get the job done; so I‟ll lead by example a lot…I‟ll guide, I‟ll help, I‟ll ask them
       questions about how things are going but really I like to let them learn for themselves and
       come to conclusions about what‟s best for themselves so very rarely will I say, “this is
       how it will be done.


The principal from School 3 shared a similar sentiment regarding the value of „walking the

walk”: I think I lead with my heart. I think I try to lead from the heart I care about my teachers, I

care about my students, I want all of us to be successful…and I show them through my words

and my actions.” The data from the interviews also spoke about how helpful it was to have a

principal and/or assistant principal who also had years of classroom teaching experience, provide

helpful ideas and suggestions for instructional modifications and interventions when they

attended the PLC meetings. A math team leader from School 3 shared, “Our assistant principal

attends most of our department meeting and he is phenomenal with his ideas because he's already

taught it so it's a huge help because sometimes he'll see things from a different perspective even

than we and he can share that and we can build from that, it's been a huge help.”


                                     Accessible and Supportive




                                                 15
       Teachers from both School 2 and 3 made multiple references to how important it was that

their administrators were so accessible; they didn‟t need to schedule appointments to visit with

them. In reverse, both principals and assistant principals were quoted in their interviews as

describing themselves as having open door policies with their staff where teachers are free to

come down and talk to them at any time. And interview data showed that teachers used this open

door policy to continually touch base with their principals regarding any questions, concerns that

might arise thorough the day. A science lead teacher from School 3 shared his thoughts on his

administrator‟s accessibility, “They are very open, I think that you can go to them and discuss

any problem. I could be in the Hall and discuss the problem with them, it's not like I have to

make an appointment with them; at lunch I could go and talk to them in or in the hall, or just in

passing time between classes. School 3 interview participants articulated repeatedly that they felt

they were supported by their administrators on a daily basis, which provided a sense of

togetherness. The principal and assistant principal were both viewed as open and responsive, as

if they were almost on the same level as their faculty. A math teacher from School 3 remarked on

how accessible her administrators were, “From day one our administrators said that they that

we‟re beginners just like us, and that they knew that some of us have more experience than they

had, and that they welcomed our question. They‟re really open, really willing to sit down and

discuss anything you want to discuss.” Teachers from School 2 and 3 also agreed that they felt

comfortable seeking help from administration if they had a student or parent issue.


       Along with being accessible, interview data from each of the three schools described how

visible each of their principals were, not only attending their PLC and related professional

meetings, but also being out in the hallways during transition times, on the playground at recess

and in other common areas interacting with the students and teachers which made it easy for the


                                                16
faculty members to approach them and run an idea by them or to ask for advice. Although it

wasn‟t mentioned specifically in interview data, observational data from School 1 showed a

principal who not only attended every PLC grade level meeting when he was on site, but during

each visit the researcher made to his school, he was out visiting with students, following up with

a teacher or parent and out supervising students at recess. A pattern also noted at both schools 2

and 3.


         School walkthroughs were made by each of the three school‟s administrators not only to

provide instructional support and feedback as outlined in the previous section but also as a way

to remain visible and easily available to answer questions or to lend a hand to school members,

faculty, staff and students on a regular basis. Principal visibility was referenced more than once

during the interviews and was noted during the researcher's tour of the building as well. For

example, while touring each of the schools, each of the various administrators encountered a

variety of students and staff, all of which they addressed by name typically providing a personal

comment and it was evident by their interactions that the recipients were accustomed to such

interactions. According to the data, these walkthroughs not only availed administrators to be

accessible it also allowed them to lead by example, modeling the value they placed on supporting

both their teachers and their students. An English teacher from School 3 shared her thoughts on

her school‟s walk-throughs:


          I feel like we try to get as many people involved in the learning as possible…„let's go on
         learning walks, and see what's happening classrooms.‟ They get a group together, usually
         it's fairly small, maybe 20 people, we use teachers from our school, maybe teachers from
         other schools that may want to see, and even community members… And usually once a
         quarter they go and they talk about observations, not critiquing, but observing, and we
         focus on different aspects, like what you observed that formative assessments, what you
         observed that shows student engagement, and then we take turns going to different


                                                 17
        classrooms for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time when they are able to quietly observe. I
        really like that because I feel like it has a more whole school approach.



A math team leader from School 3 shared her impressions, “I like the walk-throughs, and the

observations. To me that shows that PLCs are important to [our administrator]. They are in my

classroom, they aren't telling me what I have to do from the sidelines. They're in there with me,

they see what I'm doing, and then they instruct me on what I can do better. And that makes us a

better PLC. I'm more willing to do [what they ask] because they are more positive with me. Even

if I messed something up coming down on me, because they're in my classroom I'm a lot more

willing to listen to what they have to say.”


        The assistant principal from School 3 stated that, “As a principal you‟ve got to go out and

see what is it that the teachers really need to be successful and then you‟ve got to get it for them

and our principal has done very well with that, with technology with, you know, the way he sets

the schedule so there‟s time in the day, about everything he could get for them that they‟ve

needed he‟s got it for them.” The assistant principal from School 2 shared a similar sentiment

recalling times when faculty had caught him in the hall or visited with him in his office, stating

that, “I tried to listen to them, to console with them when things don't go right, try to figure out a

plan to facilitate a better outcome next time. I support them in any way I can.” The principal

from School 3 also referenced how important he felt his support for his teachers was and

remarked how the supportive infrastructure of PLC‟s actually makes teachers tasks easier, “They

know that I‟ll support them in any way I can in their challenges. Meeting together in groups and

sharing the workload, looking at student achievement together; different things like that, lesson

planning, seeing that it‟s not harder or a more difficult task, actually, if it's done right, it should

be a less stringent burden for a teacher.” A social studies teacher from School 3 remarked on the

                                                   18
support her principal provided stating that, “Our principal, comes into our meetings and will

knock ideas around with him and he‟s always receptive [to our ideas].”


       The principal from School 2 saw her role to support her staff through facilitating their

needs. She described it as, “I am there to help facilitate whatever they need to be successful in

the classroom; what can I do to help you be better, what can I do to help you in the classroom to

be more successful?” The assistant principal from School 3 had a similar perspective stating that,

„That's really what I feel my job is. I need to provide everything I can to help the teachers do

their jobs and help the students learn.” Another important element of support that emerged was

the role administrator‟s play in supporting teachers was their attendance at weekly PLC

meetings. The principal from School 2 stated that, “You have to be visible to be successful. It's

not for me to manage them [PLC meetings], they come up with the ideas, they come up with the

direction, they come up with the conversation. They come up with all the stuff that I really do

need. They're better than I am, I can't think up all this stuff. But research has shown that if the

principal isn't involved it's not going to happen. They can come up with the best ideas, but if

you're not visible, a part of those ideas, it [PLC meetings] folds.”


       A subtheme pertaining to administrative support was how much value the faculty placed

on having had the opportunity to attend a professional PLC conference with their administrators

and fellow teachers to make salient what PLC‟s were and how they were supposed to work.

Many remarked how confusing and seemingly disorganized the first few months and even years

for some participants had been as they had started working as PLCS and how much more

effective they felt the meetings became after attending a PLC conference. The assistant principal

from School 3 stated that, “I think we‟ve taken almost every department to a professional

development conference as a department … where they were able to go out sit down and listen to

                                                  19
what was being presented and then take time as a department to talk about oh we liked this, or

we liked this, or were going to do this, or we really liked these things. I think this is really lit a

fire in some of the department. It has really helped them to see exactly what we‟re talking about.

The comments from the interview data showed that the faculty felt like their attendance at these

conferences demonstrated how the value the administrators placed on the PLC system by

willingly taking money from their already strained budgets to send teams to these conferences,

but also the value they placed on the important role they knew the teachers played in the process

and thereby the importance of providing real-time, concrete examples of what working PLC‟s

look like.


        School based administrative accessibility and support was not the only element that

emerged along this same theme. So too was the important role the school district had played in

creating and sustaining school-wide PLC‟s. The assistant principal from school 3 shared his

experiences with PLC‟s and the role the school district has played,


        “This is our third year with PLCs but the district bought into it probably six or seven
        years ago. As a teacher I dealt with them for probably about four years. It was a muddled
        confusion. We had no idea what they wanted and we didn't see the vision we just knew
        that they were telling us we had to do this. And some people tried. Some people didn't.
        But the district has been rigid about what we‟re doing with PLCS‟s… They've continued
        to push, continued to drive, continued to demand that they be done, but they've also
        supported it. They've given money to let people go to conferences; they've found ways to
        get people out to learn about it and to develop it. The district‟s actually changed from
        doing a teacher of the year to doing a PLC team of the year every year.” The district has
        even taken their support a step further by using some of their funding to provide financial
        support to PLC teams in the county.


The AP from School 3went on to say that, “The district has put into place things that (school

based PLC teams) need to do for the quality teaching money, extra stipends where they have to

collaborate and they as departments have to keep track of who‟s at the meeting what‟s being


                                                   20
done by each teacher and that actually goes in the district as a report and that‟s been very helpful

to help everyone step it up.” The school district has paid to place a staff developer in every

school in the district to help support the school based PLC‟s. As the AP introduced, they‟ve also

provided financial support, creating a collaborative incentive pay model as opposed to the

typically individualized programs that have begun to appear across the country. They

established a framework that outlines for the teams what they need to do collaboratively and how

they need to track their progress (Appendix G), and then they‟ve provided ongoing support both

from district held PLC meetings (Appendix H) to the site based support of the staff developers


Figure 6: District‟s PLC Flow Chart




       The third tier in the support theme data (administrator support and district support) that

emerged from the transcripts and questionnaire results was the role of collegial support, which

emerged time and again as a medium that enabled the PLC teams to consistently address change.


                                                 21
Both administrators and teachers alike spoke of the important role that collegial support played

in the success of their PLCs. The assistant principal at School 3 described the value he placed on

collegial support: “I think working in departments has helped them cope with the changes a lot

better than if they were on the old traditional way, every teacher was in their own classroom

doing it themselves. Because we have a lot of new teachers I really feel like these new teachers

would've struggled a lot if they weren't on a regular basis sitting down with a little more

veteraned teacher who has some experience and saying let's do this. Let‟s look at this.”


       In each of the three school‟s transcriptions, there were two to three relatively new

teachers who were interviewed and each remarked in their own way how helpful the PLC‟s

collaboration had been in supporting them. According to 2nd grade teacher at school 1 who was

currently in her second year of teaching: “ It‟s just nice to know if I need help with anything I

don't feel alone, I can go ask anyone, and I can get help.” A similar sentiment was shared by a

first year English teacher from School 3 who said, “I feel like my position has changed because

I'm able to have a team. Not just my PLC team but with the counselors and the administration, I

feel like I have a lot of recourse, and extra help whereas before it was only me. It was what I

could do what I couldn‟t do. I believe that there is a definite relationship between our PLCs and

my ability to help my students.”



Theme #2 Infrastructure

    "Continuous, organized opportunities for collaboration and assessment that are part of an
  ongoing cycle of continuous improvement allow us to make the most of the best factors and
 strategies. These structures offer us our most practical and affordable opportunity to integrate,
               generate, and refine practices that influence teaching and learning"

                                      -Schmoker, 2006, p.178



                                                 22
       Schools capable of continues cycles of improvement require the creation of a

foundational infrastructure that is systemic throughout the organization and the value all three

principals placed on collaboration and the important role they believe it plays in addressing

change and school improvement was demonstrated by their systematic creation of school-wide

schedules whereby consistent collaborative practices were built into the teachers work day.

Teachers at all three schools had many opportunities to work collaboratively and establish

positive, supportive relationships because their administrators designed their schools schedule to

enable it. Such a collaborative infrastructure also enabled multiple ways to engage in shared

leadership opportunities which were built into the infrastructure of the school. Sub themes that

emerged from the data regarding school infrastructure included: 1) the importance of creative,

school-wide collaborative schedules which enabled collegial teaching and learning, and 2)

shared leadership amongst the teams/grades/content levels and the administration.


                                 Collegial Teaching and Learning


       The data clearly indicated that supportive conditions were in place both structurally and

relationally in all three schools to support collegial teaching and learning. Hord and Sommers

(2008) note that "One of the most challenging factors schools face in initiating and creating

PLCs is that of time" (p. 14). All 3 principals had provided scheduled opportunities for teachers

to engage in collective inquiry and learning, the work that characterizes the purpose of the PLC.

While procedural continuity was not the term used by interview participants what was relevant to

this analysis was the consistent reference that was made to the structures administration had put

into place school wide that facilitated the collaborative practices of the faculty. As part of the

infrastructure that supported collegial teaching and learning, the principals in all three schools



                                                 23
created a unique scheduling system that allowed PLC teams to meet regularly during school

hours.


         While nearly every interview participant mentioned how important it was that the

administration set aside specific blocks of time for teams to work collaborative as PLC‟s; - it

was surprising how vastly different each schools collaborative schedule was designed. All three

schools had consistent PLC meetings, faculty meetings, grade level team meetings leadership

meetings, even though each school defined their collaborative schedule quite differently These

weekly scheduled meetings were used to discuss a variety of topics including curriculum and

instruction, assessment and interventions, student learning, and related professional

development. In both School 2 and 3 the leadership team comprised of the principal, assistant

principal, staff developer, and team leaders/department heads worked collectively to create a

master schedule which allowed grade level PLC‟s at least on planning period a week.


         In School 1 teachers were provided approximately 45 minutes a week to collaborate in

their grade level PLC teams. Different grade levels met on different days of the week so that the

administration (principal and staff developer) could meet with them and they were typically held

in one of the team members classrooms. To be able to create a block of time in the school day

where all teachers could meet together at the same time, the principal hired a full-time PE

teacher to teach a combined PE course to the students while their teachers collaborated. While

not embedded in the teacher‟s work day (8 – 2:30 pm) the way that the grade level PLC meetings

were, both the weekly early morning faculty meetings on Fridays (7:30 – 8:15 am) and the

weekly grade level team meeting held that same afternoon (2:15 – 3:00 pm) were conducted

during the teacher‟s contract hours. The principal from School 1 described the important role of

their early morning PLC faculty meetings:

                                                24
        Every Friday its on-site training, how can you function without it...we get every week.
        We're unique in getting done. I've just said guys you‟ve got to think outside the box, and
        it really brings the staff together. Do the staff like wake up every morning at like seven in
        the morning, no they probably don't. And they would much rather teach the way they
        taught four years ago, and do the exact same thing last year, it's easy and you want to
        teach math, here you go, here's my lesson. But if there's something new and innovative
        and research-based and it's been tested and proven why not try it; why not at least tell
        them about it.”


As enthusiastic as the principal from School 1 was about these meetings his fervor was not

always equally shared by the other interview participants from his school. While a number

recognized the important role the weekly embedded grade level PLC meetings played for

allowing a common time for faculty to meet and discuss best practices, most were not terribly

enthused about the early morning Friday PLC meeting. Some of the comments included one

from a fourth grade teacher, “We are not getting what we need specific to our kids and our job. I

think it's hard to do a specific training that extends across all grade levels. There aren't a lot of

those Friday morning meetings that I can take and say I'm going to use that in my classroom

right now and it's going to help me in this way.


        School 2 had by far the most intricate collaborative schedule and had literally built the

entire school to facilitate the collaborative practices of the teams. Principal 2 explained that she

had worked closely with the school architects to design a building that would be enable her

vision for a school within a school, each hall becoming its own mini PLC community. When the

students enter School 2 they are assigned to Hall and they will remain in that same Hall for the

full two years. Principal 2 explained, “We have four different communities here broken down

into four manageable communities where they work together as a whole for the good of the

student.” School 2 has four different types of what they refer to as PLC meetings. The first thing

they did was to create a unique student schedule that would give the students about an hour and a


                                                   25
half of language arts and math and a half a year of science. A 7th grade language arts teacher

from School 2 stated, “We've got longer class periods than anyone in the district because of the

way it's set up. So we are taking that extra time to make sure that we review everything.”


        This schedule also allowed the teachers to meet together in a weekly PLC meeting

during school hours once a week just as School 1 had. Principal 2 described her rationale for

creating her school schedule as she did, “Our scheduling is the baseline whereby we create our

PLC‟s. You have to have structure.” They also have department meetings that meet the second

and fourth week of every month, x-group meetings that meet the first week of every month, and

large hall meetings that meet the 3rd week of every month and cross team groups that meet every

Thursday which are comprised of four teachers, two language arts, one from sixth and one from

seventh and two Math, one from sixth and one from seventh. And then they‟ll also be a science

teacher and CTE teachers those teachers that do shop and business and that's a six week course

so those teachers rotate in and out every six weeks (Figure 7).


       School 2 also made the decision to have their PLC groups meet in a neutral location

rather than one of the teacher‟s classrooms. The Principal said she found that it put them all on

equal ground thereby positively contributing to the non-hierchal nature of the meetings. She

explained that, “There's always dominant personalities and there are always passive

personalities. We always have them sitting at a round table like this and they meet on a neutral

turf, it's not in anyone's room so that they're all on the same level. This is a new thing that I came

with this year because I found when you go into someone's room there are people sleeping and

people not listening, put them in a new setting and make them all accountable for the process of

interacting.” Both School 1 and School 2, while vastly different in their scheduling structures,

they both conducted their PLC meetings in one of the teacher‟s classrooms. School 3 also has

                                                  26
their PLC meetings embedded in their school day, but unlike the other two schools the

scheduling is a bit more flexible. According to their Principal:


       We have very few full faculty meetings because the focus at our school is for
       departments to work together, for teachers to have the collaboration time, so simply in the
       way that they've set everything up, you know that collaboration is important…We are
       divided into departments so most of our PLC meetings are done in departments so we can
       focus on the same curriculum. We meet every Monday afternoon, but only two of the
       four Monday's our department meetings. In those meetings we discuss common
       assessments; we are responsible for getting our curriculum to the point where we‟re at the
       same point at the same time.
A math team leader from School 3 describes the value she places on how the PLC meeting time

is scheduled in her school: “We have very few full faculty meetings because the focus at our

school is for departments to work together, for teachers to have the collaboration time, and so

simply in the way that they've set everything up, you know that collaboration is important.”


Figure 7: School 2 PLC Meeting Schedule




                                                27
       Study findings showed that collegial teaching and learning emerged as a significant factor

in PLC‟s, both as a product and a process. Of the three areas focused on in the questionnaire

(Shared leadership, professional commitment and collegial teaching and learning) collegial

teaching and learning scored the highest with an overall approval rating of 87% from all three

schools (Table 11). Both school 1 and school 2‟s highest areas were in collegial teaching and

support stating that 92% of both schools felt that teachers professionally share and learn from

one another (question #11 – refer to Appendix C ). They also gave high marks to teachers

sharing classroom experiences with each other to improve understanding of student learning and

the willingness for teachers to help one another. Overall, School 3 concurred on the important

role collegial teaching and learning played in their school with an average endorsement of 85%,

with the caveat of also having their lowest area on the questionnaire findings being in this same

area stating that only 72% of the teaching faculty felt comfortable providing suggestions to

colleagues, an interesting dichotomy.


Table 11: Summative Findings from the Questionnaire

Areas of Focus                             School 1       School 2        School 3      Average

Shared Leadership                            72%             86%            89%           82%

Collegial Teaching and Learning              88%             88%            85%           87%

Professional Commitment                      88%             86%            84%           86%



       Another important aspect which fosters collegial teaching and learning is the act of

having teachers share classrooms experiences with each other to improve understanding of

teaching and learning, which is one of the foundational principals of PLC‟s and the

questionnaires data from School 1 showed that the school gave this collaborative action the

                                                28
highest ranking across the board. Questionnaire results from School 2 similarly concurred

stating the teachers are willing to share, help and learn from each other, placing both in the 90%

percentile. (Question # 2 and #11 on Appendix E).” A 4th grade teacher from School 2 said “I

think just our blend of faculty members; we want to better ourselves so that we can better our

kids. We really want to give them the best possible education.”


       Supporting data from the interviews demonstrated a similar commitment to the important

role of teachers professionally sharing and learning from one another, a commitment to ongoing

professional development and change. The Principal from School 2 explained her commitment to

improving collegial teaching and learning, “Continuous professional development, learning and

growth is very important and so my three department heads are down to leadership conference in

Austin Texas as we speak trying to glean some more stuff that we can keep moving down that

road and keeping our strategies up and keeping things going. We do a lot of peer coaching.” A

1st grade teacher from School 1 shared that, “Our school is very professional. Almost everyone is

working on an endorsement or a degree; everyone is very dedicated to learning themselves as

well as having the students [learn]. “A fifth grade teacher from School 1 explained , “I think that

adults, when they have a focused topic learn more from each other than from just one person

giving them all the information.” A language arts teaching from School 2 shared that, “PLC team

meetings have really helped us know about what each other is working on who is struggling with

what, and what we can do to help. And a science teacher at School 2 concurred with this belief,

exclaiming that, “There really is a community of learners here as teachers and basically everyone

is open to new ideas, suggestions, and improving their teaching.”


       Interview and observational data showed a consensus among the participants that their

PLC teams had also brought consistency to their school‟s content pacing but their work together

                                                29
in PLC‟s had evolved over the last few years from learning to be collaborative to becoming a

group that planned together and utilized common assessments to promote student learning.

Based on a review of documents, past agendas, PLC minutes, and supported through both

principal and teacher interviews, a range of professional development topics on common

assessments, curriculum pacing guides, effective intervention strategies, the school‟s

professional dialogue consistently centered on "what works, what doesn't work and what we

could do better.”According to a teacher in School 1, “PLC‟s create a support and an opportunity

to generate much better, more successful methods of intervention. Teams are created to support

individual progress for students and teachers. It also improves strategic methods for collecting

data on goals specific to student needs.” An English teacher from School 3 remarked on the

growth she had seen in the effectiveness of the PLC discussions stating that,” I think there are

aspects that we can work on more and I think that we are trying to address those, the difference

even from last year to this year has been impressive as far as what we're doing to come up with

creative ways, different ways to really try and bridge the achievement gap and to really help our

struggling learners.”


       School 1 kept detailed logs which they updated regularly based on the student‟s pre and

post tests scores (Appendix L). They also set weekly/bi-monthly goals and graphed the results of

their test scores, posting them outside their classroom (Appendix P) along with their SMART

goals. SMART goals are: specific/strategic, measurable, attainable, and results-oriented and

timely. The District‟s expectation is that each PLC group creates at least two SMART goals a

quarter. Of the three schools, School 1, the one selected for the districts PLC team of the year

award, was very consistent with this endeavor. Observational data showed a consistent display

of SMART goals posted outside teacher‟s classrooms and interview data confirmed this to be a


                                                30
major expectation of the PLC meetings. A 3rd grade teacher from School 1 explained the role of

setting goals: PLC‟s have given us a “formal” way to share/discuss our concerns about students

and thereby (hopefully) be more effective at helping those students. We now have “official”

goals and chart our progress toward meeting those goals – with student improvement being the

umbrella goal.”


Figure 8: District SMART Goals Overview




       Both School 1 and 2 also created PLC binders which provided a common storage

receptacle to keep track of the teams PLC meeting notes, intervention ideas, common

assessment, etc. Principal 2 had her department chairs conduct the meetings, which either she or

the assistant principal would always attend, and the department chair would be responsible for

taking notes and generating a agenda for the following week that would be distributed to the


                                               31
related team members (content teachers, counselors, special educators/ ESL specialist, etc)

before the following meeting. The expectation at all three schools was that all members of the

PLC would work collectively to review student work, discuss data, share instructional strategies

and interventions, and use this information to guide their future lessons/assessments. The

minutes from each of these meetings were also sent to the main office in both School 2 and

School 3 for review by administration whether or not a member of the leadership team was in

attendance (refer to Appendix N)


       Data from the administrative interviews showed that the purpose of collaboration time

was described relatively similarly, but observational data showed that the time was used

differently by each group of participants. It was evident that there were different levels of

involvement by the teachers during these meetings in regards to the purpose of them.

Additionally, the involvement of each principal varied in their participation, School 1 attended

nearly every grade level PLC, while the principal from School 2 attended every team on one

side of the school and then she and the assistant principal switched sides, and principal #3

attended a number of the science PLC meetings since his content background was also science,

but school #3 also had the AP. Ultimately, the communication between administration and team

leaders as well as the manner in which time was used during these scheduled meetings was found

significant to the success of the meetings. The commitment to this school-wide collaborative

schedule could also be seen in the educational goals each of the schools had created for the

district for the 2009-2010 academic school year.

                                        Shared Leadership

       From the data, schools where principals shared and distributed leadership displayed

greater evidence of PLC success with teachers taking ownership. Principals of PLCs understand


                                                 32
they cannot lead alone as the challenges of leading are too complex and serving as the school's

sole problem solver is unrealistic. Further, "they realize that change initiatives are likely to stall

unless staff members feel ownership in the decisions that drive them." (DuFour & Eaker, 1998,

p. 185) Part of fostering a distributed leadership infrastructure, principals from all three schools

offered faculty members multiple opportunities to take leadership roles in staff meetings,

advisory councils, team/grade level leadership positions and building-based student support

teams. Team leaders/department heads from all three schools in addition to engaging with their

own PLC teams during weekly collaboration time also had the opportunity to connect with other

team leaders across the district. Each month team leaders from every school in the

district also met together in content specific areas. This larger network of teacher

leaders was facilitated by the Assistant Superintendent in an effort to bridge the school to

a larger learning community.


        Supporting data from each of the schools agreed upon the importance of empowerment

on the part of the principal. While each of the three principals had distinctive leadership styles,

82% of the research participants surveyed felt that shared leadership was an important part of

their school culture. School 3 gave it the highest mark of the three with an overall average of

89% (refer to Table 12). All the other three data sources supported this finding as well. The

principal from School 3 did not provide a lot of top down direction; instead he viewed it as his

role to be flexible and work actively and collaboratively with his staff developer and department

heads who were in turn responsible for working with their respective departments. While they

did have a monthly faculty meeting, the majority of the time was spent in departmental PLC‟s.

According to the Principal: “Our school has changed our professional development schedule

from presentations to the entire faculty to departments getting together and learning from each


                                                  33
other. Whereas now it's more teachers, teaching teachers in their discipline. Removing that

direction my role has changed to be more supportive and encouraging and helping move along so

that they can really get in there and get the hard work done.” This perspective of shared

leadership was echoed by an English teacher in School 3 who reported that their PLCs evolved

without a lot of top-down directions: “I think that our administrators are the facilitators. I think

that they are the ones who have encouraged us to do the kind of things that were done and yet

they‟re on the same level as we are, they're learning along with us, there is no hierarchy.”

       The principal from school 1 described yet another perspective of his role as a shared

decision maker versus just an administrative evaluator, “My role as the principal has change

because of PLCs because now my role is to be part of the PLC. Whereas before I could just be an

evaluator or a quasi leader who has expectations but as a PLC member that puts me in their

problem hopefully as a solution or as another voice for a solution which is a different role for

principal to have.” But questionnaire findings from School 1 regarding shared leadership, with

the question regarding whether or not „leadership roles are equally shared by teachers and

administrators‟ (question #11) the faculty scored their school in the 60th percentile. Interview

and observational results varied, but it was clear from the principal‟s interview, while his initial

ascension to the position of administrative leader for the school had been somewhat rocky, his

long-term goals for distributed leadership and transforming his school into a professional

learning community were clearly evident in the transcripts. According to the staff developer at

School 1:

       [Our PLC‟s] have changed a bit. They‟ve been refined and tweaked as we‟ve gone along
       and found what really worked for us and what needed to happen. It came from
       something that was a little bit informal, but still effective, to something that‟s very formal
       where we have forms that we fill out every time we meet. We have a protocol, a certain
       agenda that we follow every time. So it‟s kind of evolved, but it‟s always been the same
       basic idea – that we meet with the students in mind, look at assessment, and look at

                                                 34
        where we need to go. And we make plans from there, either for interventions or
        extensions or re-teaching. So it‟s always been that same basic model, but has evolved
        into a more formal [framework].

For School 2, this same question shared leadership roles scored in the 79th percentile (refer to

Appendix E) while the overall scores for the entire theme of shared leadership scored in the 86th

percentile and for School 3 it was an 82%. (Table 11)


Table 12: Shared Leadership Findings from the Questionnaire

       School 1                  School 2                  School 3               Average Score

         72%                       86%                       89%                        82%


        According to both the teachers and principals at School 2 and School 3, the faculty was

encouraged to participate in shared decision making, to explore new ideas and take risks.

Interview and questionnaire data demonstrated that the majority of the teachers at School 3 felt

respected as professionals and attributed this to their principal's trust and leadership style. The

principal's flexible style was credited as allowing teachers the freedom to "make the right

choices." The principal from school 2 described her leadership role in supporting teacher

leadership state that:


        “I believe in autonomy and I believe in boundaries. I believe in setting expectations and
        then providing the autonomy to implement those expectations within the classroom. I
        also believe in trust. I trust that [my teachers] are doing that...Basically I give them the
        structure, but let them implement it; they're the experts in the classroom.


        Further illustrating this point of teacher empowerment and shared decision making was

the agenda that drove the various schools PLC meetings (Appendix I). A team leader from

school 2explained that rather was the agenda generated by the principal, but rather, the teams


                                                  35
were empowered to make such decisions based on the needs of their grade/department.

Additional instances of teachers' engagement in shared decision arose during the researcher's

observation of the various schools scheduled PLC time. Teachers were grouping students based

on the end of the block assessment that they had administered recently and making decisions as

to how those students who didn‟t pass the exam would receive remediation. During this

observation the teachers' dialogue was centered on the unique learning needs of the students

involved. Classroom teachers, special educators, staff developers and administrators worked

collaboratively to strategically discuss possible interventions to help these students, taking into

consideration each student's individual learning needs. As witnessed by the researcher, during

this observation teachers collectively came to consensus in deciding on a strategic way to

provide an intervention class to be offered the following day during the student‟s homerooms,

discussing who would facilitate the session and what material would be discussed. Although

teachers inquired as to the assistant principals thoughts, they made the final decisions.

       Further evidence of teachers' empowerment at School 2 was seen in the principal's

leadership committee which was made up of department chair representative from each of the

content areas as well as counselors, the staff developer, the assistant principal and herself. A

science teacher from School 2 described in part how their principal empowered shared decision

making in her school through their leadership team and departments, “I think we come together

as a leadership team talking about the things we need to do and the things we want to see. And

department leaders take that back to their PLCs and they talk about there, the decision is not

made in the leadership team, it goes back to the department team and it's really talked about there

and decided if it's useful.” Similarly, in School 3 a math/science teacher shared his thoughts

about the role of shared leadership at his school, stating, “Wherever we see an area that could be



                                                 36
improved we talk about it as a department, then make the change. We constantly asses our

effectiveness and obtain the necessary feedback to improve.”


       School 3 participants had a number of things in common with those at School 2.They also

felt empowered to make decisions and were trusted as professionals. Both the principal and

assistant principal talked about how often they had their teachers approach them, either in their

offices, in the hallway or even during the PLC meetings themselves asking questions about ideas

they‟d like to try in their classrooms, or new interventions strategies, or creative ways to address

different things they were struggling with and invariably both of them would turn it back to the

teachers, empowering them to explore their ideas saying things like, 'Okay how would that

work? How would you make that work and is that something that you want to make happen here

right now? Where does that fit in?' Teachers at School 3 confirmed these shared leadership

opportunities in their own interview. Teachers from School 1 also had multiple opportunities to

ask supporting questions of their principal as he and his staff developer attending nearly every

meeting. Observational data from a 3rd grade PLC meeting demonstrated consistent feedback

from both ranging in consistency in evaluating student work, suggestions for supporting

struggling writers, and possibilities for further interventions.

       Another caveat that emerged amongst the data regarding the important role that teacher

empowerment and shared decision making played was the important effect of communication on

the process. Daily communication between staff and administration provided an opportunity for

what was held important to be realized and reinforced on a continuous and ongoing basis. A 7th

grade Language Arts teacher from School 2 shared the following comment on her questionnaire,

“Communication has a powerful effect on change. Getting together with other teachers on our

teams has given us time to discuss issues that help us make the necessary changes. This time


                                                  37
affects our planning, teaching and success of our students. I really enjoy the PLC model!”

Similarly, an art teacher from School 2 shared how PLC had helped improve communication

practices in her school: [PLCs} Have helped us open our doors and share ideas to make the

whole school better for the students and to learn and improve. Sharing successes and failures

helps one to improve.”

       Supporting data showed that principals from school 2 and 3 met regularly with team

leaders, which they referred to as department chairs, either individually or as a group, to "share

ideas, to discuss issues or problems to try and figure out a positive direction to head”. Each

school's willingness to examine all professional goals and practices in light of their impact on

learning was evident throughout the data as participants from all three schools agreed on what

would be taught at each grade level and in each content area through their discussions in the

PLC‟s. These conversations ranged from issues regarding curriculum pacing guides, common

assessments and intervention strategies to make sure everybody was held accountable to essential

learning outcomes. According to a language arts teacher at School 2:

       Our PLC meetings are huge in making sure that everybody is on the same page. We have
       an agenda before we get to the meeting so that we know what we're talking about so that
       we can come prepared...Generally the department chair sends out the agenda, and they
       are really good at communicating changes to us. We get e-mails daily about anything
       that's happening, or needs to be changed. If there's something that comes up, we hear
       about it that day. It's never a week later; it's usually addressed right away.

An English teacher from School 3 talked about the important role communication played in her

ability to support her students, “The relationship that I have with the counselors that I know that

they know every kids background and I know that I can go to them and we can make something

work if it's not working. And secondly, I know that Brian our principal and Brad our AP are

aware of most things that are happening and I can go to them if something is not working for an

idea. And that very open communication I think is key.”

                                                 38
Theme #3: Re-culturing Evolution

       Culture is key to organizational functioning and that effective leaders design cultures that
     are self-sustaining by supporting individuals, teams, and departments to work together
                             effectively and learn to manage change.
                                           -Sashkin & Sashkin, 2002


       Operating as a true PLC requires a cultural changes; a paradigm shift to ensure the

success and sustainment of PLCs. Echoing throughout the data collected from all schools was

the idea that change is a process and it takes time to re-culture a school for the type of

infrastructure needed to build and support a collaborative culture capable of continuous

improvement. Both teachers and principals made reference to the necessary cultural changes that

had taken place since the implementation of professional learning communities in their schools.

They could innumerate what their schools had looked like „Pre-PLC‟s‟ and how they‟d evolved

over the last four plus years, but not one participant described their school as being „fully

evolved.” Sub themes that emerged from the data regarding the importance of time in the

evolutionary equation of re-culturing included: 1) a shared professional commitment to the

process, and 2) a shift in purpose from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning.



                                 Shared Professional Commitment


       Professional learning communities like any major systemic re-culturing model is an

evolutionary process which requires time. Based on a study of the collected data shared

professional commitments was found as a necessary condition to support professional learning

communities. Nearly every interview participant descried their school as being in the process of

becoming a PLC. The principal from School 3 explained his thoughts on his schools evolution of

re-culturing, exclaiming, “We are on the PLC journey.” Similarly, interview participants from all
                                                 39
three schools agreed that their PLC‟s we‟re continually and consistently improving their ability

to foster a shared commitment by administrators and staff, stating, “Our school is always looking

for ways to improve and become a better place. The PLC model has brought all members of the

school team (staff, admin, teachers) together. The PLC model makes our school function as

“one” in helping provide and create the best learning atmosphere. (Language Arts teacher,

School 2). This shared professional commitment was summarized by a fourth grade teacher at

School 1: Through PLC‟s we have been able to discuss research-based ideas that can benefit all

of our students and thus our school. We have supported each other and have built relationships

that make the feel of our school a positive one.” Findings from the questionnaire concurred in

that an average of 85% of the participants surveyed agreed that professional commitment

influenced the culture of their school (Table 13). School 1 also ranked professional commitment

in the 88th percentile, the highest of the three schools surveyed. A 4th grade teacher from School

1 described her experiences with professional commitment in her team, and how important a

personal relationship is in supporting a professional relationship:


       I think that you can't have a professional relationship, for me… unless I have a personal
       relationship and I know that the other people value my opinions. Maybe it's a respect
       issue, to boil it down to one word. I think that the team needs to be supportive on more
       than just one level…We care about each other, and that I think roles over into our PLC.
       We are all really different people too…but we‟ve worked at accepting what each other
       are good at.


Table 13: Shared Professional Commitment Questionnaire Findings

       School 1                 School 2                  School 3              Average Score

         88%                       85%                      84%                      86%




                                                 40
One of the comments from the questionnaire by a special education teacher at School 2 in

reference to the shared professional commitment: “We‟re meeting on a consistent basis to

discuss data and not just behaviors. That has made a huge difference. Every teacher “owns” the

students on their team. No longer do we have “they‟re under and IEP”…they‟re ours.


       Administrators and teachers from School 2 and 3 placed similar significance on the role

shared professional commitment played in their PLC‟s A math team leader from School 3

expressed a similar sentiment, “I think PLC‟s are a good thing. Are their drawbacks? Yes, but

there are drawbacks to any program. But overall it's a highly positive thing. I see more

involvement from our administrators, more collaboration between my colleagues; we‟re here for

students, were here to make it a positive learning experience for them and I think we're doing

that.” A math team leader from School 3 shared her thoughts on the important role of shared

commitment between teachers and administrators: “Our principal, and our assistant principal, ask

questions, they ask about our assessments, they ask about our interventions… it's just as

important to them as it is to us and you can tell that because they'll come up to us and ask… And

that makes a huge difference.” A team leader from School 3 expressed how shared commitment

in her school‟s PLC had benefited her and her students, “I have others I can go to and collaborate

with and come up with ideas who are dealing with the same issues that I'm dealing with it. “The

principal from School 3 explained the changes his school had experienced over the last several

years: “By [working together] and experiencing good things, people are more willing to change

because they see the benefits of those things happening; departments meeting together and

talking about things; how PLC things are going and they‟re witnessing dramatic increases in

student achievement on interventions that we are doing and that gets them excited…just making

that change makes it much easier because they understand the importance of it.” The principal


                                                41
from School 2 shared his experience with the evolution that‟s occurred with the collaborative

practices of his teachers with PLC‟s and their transformation of shared commitment: “It‟s been

an interesting evolution, but it wasn't without the pain. I had a lot of heartbreak for a long

time…I don't have to worry about managing people…because the teachers are managing

themselves. They see the results, the results are good. They see the support, they're getting

something from it, and they‟re not competing with each other anymore… It's a win-win system.

Our culture has changed.”



Shift in Purpose

     The professional learning community model flows from the assumption that the core
    mission of formal education is not simply to ensure that students are taught but to ensure
     that they learn. This simple shift, from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning, has
                               profound implications for schools.

                                          -DuFour (2004)


       Findings from the interview data showed that a focus on outcomes rather than inputs or

intentions is a characteristic of schools that operate as professional learning communities.

Principals of PLCs work with their faculty to identify and articulate clear measurable goals that

can be continually monitored. The evidence produced as well as the careful monitoring of the

evidence is then used to inform. PLCs are an evolutionary process requiring time and as the

assistant principal from School 3 described so precisely, “We‟re in our 3rd year [working with

PLCs]…and I think the philosophy and the culture of our school is very accommodating, very

helpful, you know, very, “do whatever we need to help the students learn. We‟re seeing a lot of

things taking place this year that are very student learning driven.” Having three previous school

experiences from which to draw upon, the science team leader from School 3, said:



                                                  42
       I think the direction that we're going is a lot better than what I've experienced in other
       schools. I have had team meeting before and I collaborate with them but it wouldn't be
       any of the stuff that we're doing now, looking at test scores, struggling students, mostly it
       was trying to integrate English with science or science with music. It wasn‟t, okay, these
       are the struggling students, here are their test scores, how are we going to get them to
       succeed.
Similarly, a science teacher from School 2 compared her experiences working with teachers from

other schools in the district stating that, “I've been going to PLC training for a while at the

district, and my opinion of PLC, a group of teachers that work well together, that while they may

disagree with something, their main objective is the student and how do we improve so that the

student is successful at school. The assistant principal from School 3 shared a similar

perspective, “One of the biggest things in our PLCs is we just don't let kids fail. We intervene

early on.” A review of the documents from School 3 provided the following example of their

school‟s transition from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. (Table 14)


       Principals from all three schools share a similar vision regarding the importance of this

shift in their school cultures from one teaching to one of learning. The principal from School 1

explained his school‟s shift, “We have a culture of learning here and were really serious about

what the kids are accomplishing about what they're learning. There are goals and missions

statements by every single teacher on the wall right as they walk in. The very next bulletin board

is the balanced literacy academics and once they turn the hall they are going to see academics,

academics, academics as they go down. Our culture is one of learning.” He went on to explain

that, “Kids that are the beneficiaries of the PLC because the whole idea is that they don't slip

through the cracks. That's the ultimate goal of the PLC. Nobody slips through the cracks.”


Table 14: School 3‟s Cultural Shifts in a PLC: A Shift in Fundamental Purpose

From a focus on teaching                            To a focus on learning



                                                  43
From emphasis on what was taught                   To a fixation on what students learned

From providing individual teachers with            To engaging collaborative teams in building
curriculum documents such as state standards       shared knowledge regarding essential
and curriculum guides                              curriculum.


        The assistant principal from School 2 shared a similar example in their school‟s shift,

“It‟s all about educating kids. [In our PLC] meetings, all we talk about are the kids…so

everybody's on the same page and everybody participated, and expresses their concerns about

that child or this child. It‟s great!” The principal from School 2 described her philosophy of

learning, explaining, “I guess my philosophy is student oriented and we do whatever we need to

do to help them be successful. I also believe we are the visitors here not the students. The

students are mandated to be so we are actually the adults here are the visitors, and we are here to

serve them as best he can and give them the skills and tools they need to have to be successful in

life, down the road.” The principal from School 3 shared his vision stating, “I think my staff

knows that and I think they share the same belief that the school is here for the students…we‟re

here to help the students be successful and whatever your strengths are, that's where you're going

to be utilized.


Conclusion



              “Effective change comes from a constant disquiet with the status quo.”

                                        Staff Developer. School 1


        In conclusion, the ancient Chinese philosopher Lae-tzu (604 BC - 531 BC) wisely

explained that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The aim of this multi




                                                 44
Figure 9: Relationship Between PLC‟s and School Based Change



                         School Based Change




                                                              Reculturing


                                                              Infrastructure


                                                              Support




                                                            Professional
                                                              Learning
                                                            Communities




case study was to explore the individual „journey‟ of three separate school‟s „processes and

outcomes,‟ a explore the individual „journey‟ of three separate school‟s „processes and

outcomes,‟ analyzing their thoughts and experiences regarding professional learning

communities and school based change (Miles and Huberman, 1994). The study finding showed

that support, infrastructure, and re-culturing all played significant roles in each their school‟s

PLC evolutionary journey and that these three themes interfaced and overlapped even as their

school‟s PLCs continued to developed and changed.

                                                  45
       Findings from the study‟s four data sources(interviews, observations, questionnaire and

documents) concurred that changes in the following areas had occurred since the inception of

PLC‟s: an improvement in the school‟s consistency regarding academic expectations for

students, an increase in the collaboration and communication amongst faculty, administration

and the district, more opportunities to engage in shared leadership opportunities, an improvement

in their professional commitment to each other, the students and their own teaching and learning,

and an increase in their ability to work together to create solutions to ongoing challenges in their

classrooms and in the school. As the staff developer from School 1 summarized so eloquently,

each of these three school‟s journey began with a „disquiet with the status quo‟ and while each

school‟s journey has been different, study participants concur that each has indeed experiences

effective change in their schools.




                                                 46
Appendix C: An Overview of the Questionnaire

#   Statements

1   Administrators provide visible, ongoing support for new school programs and ideas.

2   Teachers are willing to help each other when problems arise.

3   Teachers give priority to helping their students develop higher order thinking skills.

4   Administrators are sympathetic with problems and difficulties encountered by teachers in
    their work.

5   Teachers share classroom experiences with each other to improve their understanding of
    student learning.

6   Teachers incorporate the findings of educational research into their own teaching and
    learning practices.

7   Administrators work to ensure the cooperation of teachers.

8   Teachers openly share problems with one another.

9   Teachers believe that all students can learn.

10 Administrators visibly encourage teachers to be the best that they can be in the classroom.

11 Teachers professionally share and learn from one another.

12 Teachers are committed to professional growth to improve teaching and learning.

13 Teachers and administrators work cooperatively in developing new school programs and
   policies.

14 Teachers encourage each other to use professional judgment when making decisions.

15 Teachers adequately plan teaching and learning activities to accommodate individual
   differences among students.

16 Teachers receive the assistance they need from administrators and colleagues to enhance the
   quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms.

17 Teachers feel comfortable in providing suggestions to colleagues about ways in which to
   improve teaching and learning in their classrooms.

18 Teachers spend time in professional reflection about their work.


                                                47
19 Leadership roles are equally shared by teachers and administrators.

20 Teachers spend time together to informally discuss ways to improve the school.




                                              48
Appendix D:     School #1 Questionnaire Results

(14 surveys returned / 19 total staff – 74 % return rate)




School #1 (Key: grade level, degree, years teaching, years at TI)

    1      2        3     4      5     6     7      8       9       10    11    12    13    14
#   K      K        1     1      2     3     4      4       4       5     5     SD    RR    ?
    BS     MA       MA    BA     BA    BA    BA     BA      MA      BA    MA    BA    BA    BA
    10/9   31/12    9/7   15/5   3/3   3/3   1/1    13/12   20/11   4/4   7/4   5/4   3/1   5/2

1   3      3        3     4      4     3     4      3       2       2     3     3     3     3
2   4      4        4     4      3     4     4      4       4       3     3     3     -     3
3   4      4        4     4      4     3     4      4       3       3     3     3     3     3
4   3      4        2     2      2     2.5   4      2       2       2     3     3     3     3
5   4      3        4     4      4     4     4      4       4       3     3     4     3     4
6   3      3        4     3      4     3     4      4       3       3     2     3     3     3
7   3      3        4     3      2     2     4      2       1       2     3     3     3     3

                                                   49
8    4      4       4      4     3     4     4     4       4       3    3      3    3     2
9    4      4       4      3     4     4     4     4       4       3    3      3    3     3
10   3      3       4      4     4     3     4     3       2       1    3      3    3     4
11   -      4       4      4     4     -     4     4       4       3    3      3    3     4
12   4      4       4      4     4     3     4     4       3       3    3      3    3     3
13   3      3       3      3     4     3     4     2.5     1       2    3      3    3     3
14   4      4       4      4     4     3     4     4       3       3    3      3    3     4
15   4      4       4      4     4     4     4     4       3       3    3      3    3     3
16   4      3       4      4     3     3     4     2.5     3       2    3      3    3     3
17   4      3       4      3     3     3     4     4       3       3    3      3    3     3
18   4      3       4      4     4     3     3     4       3       3    3      3    3     3
19   3      2       4      2     3     2     4     1       3       1    1      2    3     2
20   3      4       4      3     4     4     3     4       4       3    2      4    3     3


Direct Quotes

Has the professional learning communities (PLC) model had an effect on your school‟s
capacity to address change? If so, in what ways?

#1       Yes, many of our teachers seemed to be stuck in their ways when we started doing PLC.
         They were more willing to change and better benefit their students.

#2       Open forum, a lot of professional resources. No fear when requesting help. Can work
         through glitches together.

#3       Yes, we work together to solve issues with students and to meet the needs of the students.

#4       Our grade level teams are very interactive and supportive. We are not as involved in
         cross-grade academic discourses except in class and conferences; we talk a lot then. We
         just don‟t see and interact as much during school time. We are totally involved in
         making changes on a grade level basis.

#5       Professional learning communities have been in effect since my very first year of
         teaching and I don‟t know any other way of doing things. Our PLC‟s have addressed and
         given the chance to address many struggles with particular students.

#6       Yes, it has given us a “formal” way to share/discuss our concerns about students and
         thereby (hopefully) be more effective at helping those students. We now have “official”
         goals and chart our progress toward meeting those goals – with student improvement
         being the umbrella goal.

#7       I think the PLC meetings have been more focused on certain individual students, on what
         their needs are and interventions on what to do to help. I would like to see more about
         the units were teaching and school resources. I feel we do these things all the time, not

                                                 50
      just in PLC meetings. Our PLC meetings have only touched on one part of the PLC
      model. As a 4th grade team we meet every day and plan, organize, communicate and
      discuss issues. That is our PLC and I am very thankful for our team!!

#8    No, some people don‟t want input about the way things should/could be changed. It is
      their way only. Yes, we are able to talk about problems in the classroom with other
      teachers/grade levels and get ideas about changing approaches to teacher concepts or
      student behavior.

#9    We have been able to discuss research-based ideas that can benefit all of our students and
      thus our school. We have supported each other and have built relationships that make the
      feel of our school a positive one.

#10   Yes, it‟s assessment driven instruction.

#12   Yes, time is scheduled in to address/implement/reflect on programs/strategies/etc. It is an
      expectation that all teachers will be an active/involved member of both their grade level
      team and the school community. I believe we could be more effective, communicate
      better, and be more responsive. We could demonstrate more ownership of the collective
      student body. I also believe we could have higher expectations for our students. Also –
      we could have a little more personal understanding and therefore “buy-in” of the idea of
      PLC.

#14   Yes, it creates a support and opportunity to generate much better, more successful
      methods of intervention. Teams are created to support individual progress for students
      and teachers. It also improves strategic methods for collecting data on goals specific to
      student needs.




                                                 51
Appendix E: School #2 Questionnaire Results

(16 surveys returned / 38 total staff - 42% return rate)




School #2 (Key: content, degree, years teaching, years at TI)

    1     2    3    4     5     6     7     8      9       10    11   12    13     14    15    16
    L     L    L    M     M     M     M     S      LD      LD    PE   CT    Coun   Art   ?     ?
#   A     A    A    B     BS    B     BA    M      BS      BA    B    E     s      M     M     MA
    B     B    B    S     20/   A     13/   A      10/     25/   A    BA    MS     A     A     28/2
    S     A    S    3/    8     9/    9     30/    3       3     9/   23/   27/3   32/   6/4   6
    1/    2/   7/   3           9           9                    3    2            2
    1     2    7

1   4     3    3    3     4     4     4     4      3       4     3    4     4      4     3     4
2   4     4    4    4     4     3     4     4      3       3     4    4     4      4     4     4
3   4     3    3    3     4     3     3     4      3       3     4    3     3      4     3     3
4   4     3    4    2     3     2.    4     3      3       2     3    3     4      4     4     4
                                5
5   4     3    3    3     3     3     3     3      4       4     4    4     4      4     4     4

                                                  52
6    4   0      3   0   3     3     3     4     4     3     3    3     3       4     3     4
7    4   4      2   3   3     2.    4     4     3     4     3    4     4       4     4     4
                              5
8    4   3      3   4   4     3     4     3     3     4     3    3     4       4     4     4
9    4   3      3   3   4     3     3     3     3     4     4    3     3       4     3     4
1    4   3      3   3   3     3     4     4     4     4     4    4     4       4     3     4
0
1    4   4      3   4   3     3     4     4     4     4     4    4     3       4     3     4
1
1    4   4      2   3   4     3     3     4     3     3     4    4     3       4     3     4
2
1    4   3      2   3   4     3     3     4     3     4     3    4     4       4     4     4
3
1    4   3      2   3   4     4     3     4     3     4     3    3     3       4     3     4
4
1    4   3      3   3   4     3     3     4     3     4     3    3     3       4     4     4
5
1    4   3      3   2   3     3     3     4     3     3     3    3     4       4     3     4
6
1    4   3      3   4   3     3     4     3     3     3     4    3     3       3     4     4
7
1    4   3      2   3   3     3     3     4     3     3     4    3     3       4     3     4
8
1    4   3      3   3   3     2.    3     4     2     3     3    3     3       4     3     4
9                             5
2    4   3      3   4   3     3     3     3     4     4     4    3     3       3     4     4
0


Direct Quotes

Has the professional learning communities (PLC) model had an effect on your school‟s
capacity to address change? If so, in what ways?

#1

Our school is always looking for ways to improve and become a better place. The PLC model
has brought all members of the school team (staff, admin, teachers) together. The PLC model
makes our school function as “one” in helping provide and create the best learning atmosphere.

#3

Communication has a powerful effect on change. Getting together with other teachers on our
teams has given us time to discuss issues that help us make the necessary changes. This time
affects our planning, teaching and success of our students. I really enjoy the PLC model!


                                              53
#6

Yes. I feel that we work more as a team. We talk and discuss common kids and how we can
help them. We also use our department time to create common assessments and talk about our
results.

#7

Yes. Many teachers have had to get out of their comfort zones and use more effective teaching
strategies due to the PLC model. No longer will traditional only methods be accepted. As a
community we have had to come together more. We have also had to implement bench mark
tests and common assessments for all departments/classes. All teachers are now forces to teach
the curriculum and follow the curriculum map. PLC‟s have forced many changes, mostly
positive.

#8

We are changing all over the place. Every year and even mid-year, which has frustrated me in
the past. But with PLC we have a direction and we are now going to the same place! Huge
difference! And it is wonderfully, district wide – so we have district support and even initiation
in the changes.

#9

Yes, meeting on a consistent basis to discuss data and not just behaviors has made a huge
difference. Every teacher “owns” the students on their team. No longer do we have “they‟re
under and IEP”…they‟re ours.

#10

Yes, there is more consistency of expectations for students learning and behaviors. Teachers
work together to identify at risk students and provide remediation. There is more cross-
curricular instruction provided. Teachers communicate professionally about students. We have
strategies that are effective. The parents are part of the team.

#12

Yes. PLC‟s have improved our school in many ways. We meet weekly with other teachers who
share our students, discuss projects, events, student‟s needs, etc. We also meet monthly with
departments planning lessons and experiences that will benefit students. We also meet monthly
with others teachers in the district where we make sure we‟re following the curriculum and
discuss new activities and ideas, along with common assessments.

#14


                                                54
Helps us open our doors and share ideas to make the whole school better for the students and to
learn and improve. Sharing successes and failures helps one to improve.

#15

The PLC model effects our school to change with ever-changing requirements placed on school
districts by legislation decisions. Our school strives to be advanced in teaching students to learn
and spend quality PLC hours brainstorming how to implement “best strategies.” Although PLC
addresses “no child left behind” and the general core, it has some short comings for students on
an individualized education plan and ESL students in the area of common assessments.
Improvements are needed to address all students making sure the common assessments will fit
all groups.




                                                55
Appendix F: School #3 Questionnaire Results

(21 surveys returned / 34 total staff – 62% return rate)




School #3 (Key: content, degree, years teaching, years at TI)

    1   2    3    4   5   6   7    8    9 1     1        1    13   14   151      1   18 19      20 2
                                          0     1        2                6      7                 1
# M     M    M    S   S   S   E    E    H H     L        L    L   Co Co C        P   S    FA    Co ?
  B     M    /S   B   B   B   B    B    B B     D        D    D/ un un T         E   pa   CS    m B
  S     S    B    A   A   A   A    S    S A     B        B    M s     s   E      B   n    BS    p  S
  3     2    S    4   5   9   1    2    3 1     S        S    BS M M M           S   B    9/2   BS 7
  /     4/   1/   /   /   /   4/   5/   / 8/    6        1    10/ A A     S      3   A          15 /
  3     9    1    3   2   2   2    2    3 3     /        0/   2   3/2 30/ 1/     /   7/         /2 2
                                                3        2            2   1      3   2

1   3   3    4    4   3   4   4    3    4   3   4        4    4    4    4    4   3   4    4     4    4
2   4   4    4    4   3   4   4    3    3   4   4        3    4    3    4    4   3   4    4     3    3
3   3   3    4    4   2   3   3    2    4   2   3        3    4    3    3    3   4   4    4     3    3
4   3   4    4    4   3   4   3    3    4   3   4        3    4    4    4    4   4   4    4     4    4
5   4   4    4    4   3   3   3    4    4   3   4        3    4    3    3    3   3   4    4     4    3
6   3   3    4    4   3   3   3    3    3   3   4        3    3    2    3    3   2   4    4     3    4
7   4   4    4    3   4   3   3    3    4   2   4        3    4    4    4    4   4   4    4     3    3

                                                    56
8    4   4   4   3   2   3   4    3   4   4    3        4   4   2   3   4   2   4    4    3      3
9    4   4   4   3   3   4   3    3   4   2    4        4   3   4   3   4   4   4    4    3      3
1    4   4   4   4   3   4   4    3   4   3    4        4   4   4   4   4   4   4    4    4      3
0
1    4   4   4   4   3   3   3    2   3   3    4        4   4   3   3   4   3   4    4    3      3
1
1    3   4   4   4   3   3   3    3   4   3    4        4   4   3   3   4   4   4    4    3      4
2
1    3   4   4   3   2   3   4    2   3   3    4        3   4   3   4   4   4   4    4    3      3
3
1    4   3   4   4   3   3   3    3   4   3    -        4   4   3   3   4   4   4    4    3      3
4
1    3   3   4   4   2   3   2    3   4   3    4        3   3   3   3   4   4   4    4    3      4
5
1    3   3   4   4   2   3   4    3   4   3    3        4   4   4   3   4   4   4    4    3      4
6
1    3   4   4   4   2   3   3    2   4   2    3        1   4   2   2   4   2   4    4    3      2
7
1    3   3   4   4   3   3   2    3   4   2    4        1   4   3   3   4   3   4    4    3      3
8
1    3   4   4   4   3   3   3    3   3   3    4        1   3   3   3   4   4   4    4    3      3
9
2    4   4   4   4   4   3   4    3   4   4    4        1   4   3   3   4   2   4    4    3      2
0


Direct Quotes

Has the professional learning communities (PLC) model had an effect on your school‟s
capacity to address change? If so, in what ways?

#1      Yes, we are more open to learn from each other and thus more willing to change teaching
practices to become more effective.

#3       Yes, wherever we see an area that could be improved we talk about it as a department,
         then make the change. We constantly asses our effectiveness and obtain the necessary
         feedback to improve.

#4      Yes, it works because it‟s the whole school, not just one person and everybody is open to
trying new things.

#5      Yes, we are all teaching using common assessments, strategies and similar lesson. We are
on the same timetable.




                                                   57
#6     Yes, teachers are working together more as a team rather than as individuals. They share
       the same goals. We believe the PLC model provides students learning environment and
       that it will help them succeed.

#7     The PLC model has encouraged greater collaboration and a strong emphasis on doing
everything we can to help students learn.

#10 We are a new school and have had a PLC model since the start. Many teachers are brand
new so are open to change.

#11    It has not really to do with SPED but it has helped others work better together.

#12 I think it has improved ways to teach on “the same page” Also,, it has increased ways to
know your colleagues. We have shared ideas!

#13 Provided a time for us to collaborate and share ideas – student learning has definitely
increased.

#14    Yes, we are starting to see huge improvements in our department learning policy! Things
       are getting better. It is hard to bring about change in older teachers, but it is slowly
       taking place.

#15    The weekly collaboration provides an opportunity for collegiality – it gives teachers time.
       Interventions are discussed and teachers help one another with struggling students.

#16    Yes, we now use more frequent assessments to determine if there is a problem and review
       areas that may be misunderstood.

#18    Not sure about the question, but the PLC‟s have helped our department get on the same
       page.

#19    I think so. Being the only FACS teacher in the school, PLC‟s have been especially
       important for me. My administration has been very supportive in my efforts to
       collaborate with peers who teach the same content across the district. The FACS PLC
       has improved standard based learning, teaching strategies and overall student success in
       the classroom. I know I am a better teacher due to PLC‟s. Our school keeps with the
       current and best teaching strategies through constant evaluation and reflection of the data
       that is collected based on student success.




                                               58
Appendix G: Summative Scores: School 1, School 2 and School 3



51 questionnaires returned = 57% total response rate

School #1 (14 surveys/ 18 total staff – 78%)

School #2 (16 surveys/ 38 total staff - 42%)

School #3 (21 surveys/ 34 total staff – 62%)



Findings from the questionnaire                       #1      #2       #3                  Total

Shared Leadership                                    2.86   3.42     3.57               3.283333
Collegial Teaching &
Learning                                             3.52   3.52      3.4                   3.48
Professional Commitment                              3.51   3.41     3.34                   3.42


Questionnaire Key

       The Revised School Culture Elements Questionnaire utilized in this research study

identified three factors: Leadership and Vision, Collegial Teaching and Learning, and

Professional Commitment. (Davis, et al., 1999).




Questions that Pertained to Shared leadership (khaki color)

#1     #4      #7     #10     #13    #16       #19



Questions that Pertained to Collegial teaching and learning (purple color)

#2     #5      #8     #14     #17    #20



Questions that Pertained to Professional commitment (orange color)

#3     #6      #9     #11     #12    #15       #18

                                                 59
Appendix H:   District‟s Professional Learning Community Rubric




                                                              60
61
Appendix I: District‟s PLC Agenda Format




                                           62
Appendix J: District-wide Intervention Schedule




                                              63
Appendix K: School 1: 1st Grade PLC Agenda




                                             64
Appendix L: School 1: PLC form for Analyzing Student Work Samples (1st grade)




                                            65
Appendix M: School 2 Student Schedule




                                        66
Appendix N: School 3: Minutes from a PLC Language Arts Meetings




                                           67
68
Appendix O: School 3: Three Ways to Know if You‟re a PLC - Faculty Meeting Power Point
Presentation on PLC‟s




                                           69
Appendix P: School 1 SMART Graphing




                                      70
Principal of School #1

Could you begin by giving me a brief overview of your professional/educational
background.

I've been teaching for 24 years, 23 of them at the same school, almost the same classroom. And
after about six or eight of those years I saw that I could easily get into a rut just doing the same
thing over and over again. So after about six or so years I decided to do something new every
year. So different programs going from whole language, open Court, phonics only. But 5th grade
didn‟t get into it too much because its an older grade. So as the years progressed I was
introduced to the six traits of writing and I introduced that to my class and it‟s still great. Guided
reading was a new thing for me. When this district went in all different directions for reading we
didn‟t have anything coherent, it was total autonomy. Then we finally came together with this
guided reading and balanced literacy approach so I jumped on that as a teacher and I learned how
to do those, how to take the running records and everything, and when new things came down
the pike I tried them in the classroom.

As a teacher I wanted to do everything; to be the best. When I finally reached the top of my
game I decided maybe I can go into administration. But I didn't want to leave teaching until I
was at the top of my game. It took me that long. See some guys are ready after five years,
because they're at the top of their game already. But I didn't feel like that. It was 18 years before
I decided I would go back to school. I had my Masters already and so I started looking into
administrative endorsements and it took me a couple of years. I didn‟t do it during the school
year because I didn't want my focus to be off the kids in the classroom. So I took classes during
the summer. So it took me little while. After about 20 years or so years I started to apply. I had
my endorsements and it took me about four years before I finally got a job. There weren't that
many openings really. And every single time there was one, I would apply. After 23 years there
was an opportunity to teach 6th grade math, so I took it. It was different, it was new, and I
thought a change would be good. And after about four dumpsters of 5th grade materials I moved
to another school and taught for about eight months and during that interim I got the job here. I
didn't even finish the first full year sixth. I graduated from BYU with my teaching certificate and
got my masters degree from Utah State and I went through Southern Utah University for my
administrative endorsement.

Given your role as principal, what experiences have helped prepare you for this position?

The teaching. Actually it does help a lot, but believe it or not when I stand up in front of the
teachers and tell them something I have found success in, it doesn't go very far. I think I could've
come up here with three years of experience and still had the same success. My teaching
background helps because at least I know where they're coming from. And when they say they're
having a problem with certain things I know what to tell them to do. But usually unless they
discover what to do, ah, its just another mandate from the principal. I don't know that it's really

                                                 71
that big of a help to have all those years of teaching experience although it does give me the
confidence. I know what I'm looking for going into their classrooms. I'm know what good
teaching looks like. I know if they're doing something wrong, if the kids are going all over the
place, I know because I went through that as a teacher. Sometimes I can guide them into
changing but one way or the other it‟s about going around the back door, so it's their idea. That‟s
the real trick.

Can you describe the philosophies and beliefs that guide you and your leadership?

The basic philosophy I run on is that kids are the reason why we're here. And its their progress in
academics that drive us and what we do. So when there are student concerns that come forward
and teachers concerns come forward its a real tough balance because I know how important
those kids are and how important the teachers are and how important the teachers feelings, and
psyche, and stress, and how it affects that student. But when it comes right down to it, it's the
kids, it's the students that drive us, and that's where the foundation lies. I hate to stand up in front
and dictate. I won‟t tell teachers to do anything I wouldn't do or haven't done myself. That's kind
of what drives me. I would like to be the example, but I don't always get the chance.

How would you describe your leadership style?

In my view, a leaders job is to lead by example. I can't be in the classroom teaching for them.
I've been there and done that. Just for example, at the staff meetings you'll notice I'm not up there
giving them. Shauna and I talk about what we do each week with them but Shauna is the one
presenting. If there's something to do with red ribbon week I usually just have another teacher
introduce it. And I just kind of sit in the background, I want to be there, I don't have to be, I‟m
not really required to be, but those early-morning meetings are good for me to attend. And I
attend all of them. I would've been in their classrooms all the time observing, giving them
feedback. It was funny to have a second grade student talking to her teacher in a reading group
and they were talking about occupations and she said, “I want to be what Mr. Mitchell is.” And
the teacher said, “ah that's interesting why, because he doesn't do anything. He wanders the
around talking to us and that's it. He doesn't do anything.” And the teachers that ah well….. that
was funny. Anyways, that's good. I'm glad that they think that I'm not the one that has to do
everything because I've been with principals who do everything. I was replacing principals who
were retiring and/or had retired and then I came here. My hat goes off to those older principals,
in those days they didn't really do a lot of observations. I know my own principal and I just had
two principals in all of those 23 years in elementary school, I never saw one of them in my
classroom. Never. And when I came up here and jump into their classrooms they were very taken
back because they hadn't seen a principal either. When I walked in there they felt very, almost
offended to think that I wouldn't trust them to teach. Now those teachers are not here, in fact only
three of them are left because the rest of them transferred out. That's by design and that's just fine
with me.


                                                  72
Can you tell me a little bit about that experience?

When a principal opens up a new school he usually takes staff with him. But this one retired. The
other principle who was hired at the first of the year knew he would be gone mid-year because he
was going to open up a bilingual school. All year long he knew, my months are numbered, he
wasn't concerned that much, he did his job here, but he wasn't that concerned about the
underlying culture of everything that was going on here. The first question I got in faculty
meeting was, “Are you going to make changes?” “No I'm not planning on it, do you need
changing?” You know? I came here from the top of my game. I got awards for teaching and
everything; they didn't respect that at all, they didn't care. They just know that you're coming in
here now and we had a good gig going. And when I came in I started to notice some things; 40
minute recesses of the morning, 40 minute recess of the afternoon, and let's hook that on the PE,
and that we have computer labs. And I just looked at them and ask them what are you teaching?
So I started asking them. So I offended him many of them to. This was a little retirement for
teacher community here. I looked around and there were no reading tables to do a reading group
on so I asked them when you do your reading groups. And my answer was, we read all the time.
With your reading all the time. But what do you instruct reading. W well the first and second
grade teachers knew when they instructed reading, they had their tables they had their books at
third or fifth set and instruct reading, when he talking about. When you teach writing. Ah what
they write a lot. But when is it that you sit down and go through the traits, I was just wondering?
Well they felt real a lot of pressure from that. So after those first two months, April and May, I
was discussing questions. Well, they got the message that, then by going to be a mess to work
with. And so, most of the ones that moved out to a school across the street or down the road or
cross a neighbor or. The teachers that lived here stayed here. Most of them I thought, they're
probably thinking, if I have to toe the line anyway I might as well teach at the school close by
because all the other principals were doing the same thing, I just came and started doing it up
here. And they didn't like that. And I was glad to see him go. To tell you the truth. They just
weren't teaching. Right now I still have a couple, that lived here in the valley, those are the ones
that stayed. And I really didn't come across to them as it this way or else. It took a couple of
years for some of them to lead. The district has adopted the six traits writing. When do you teach
it. I want to see it. Some of the people would come running out of the staff developer's a quick,
easy coming in on Thursday to see a six traits writing lesson, I taught six trait writing for 10
years, I these teachers have been teaching for 10 years, so what's been going on up here.
Anyway, in the meantime, they would come by and complain to a secretary. The secretary
started a little campaign to get me out. And the secretary got fired. It wasn't me of the school
board did it. Of course she still has feelings and lives up here in the Valley and doesn't stop
talking about that to this close-knit community. So, that didn't help much. The only thing that
saved me that first year where the kids. Because I went in the classroom and was fun and went
outside and I was always outside with them, and they went home and said we've got a 25-year-
old principal because all the other principals were gray and bald. The parents wanted to come
and see this through this new young principal was, and done that geez he's not young. So the kids

                                                73
can't have saved me because they loved having me around. And I knew how to interact with
students because I've done it all my life. Anyways, that saved me. It was a tough because I would
take the teachers down to see another school, and we spent a lot of money and put it towards
professional development, and I said, next month or they go down and see her in elementary, it is
the East elementary, so they would walk through these classrooms and Kelly get the idea, holy
cow, this is what's going on the district, this is what we're doing, they‟re teaching writing.

I didn't know how to be a brand new principal. And I didn't know how to be a brand new
principal. I came across maybe a little too fast, too quick. It worked out phenomenally well. I
was pleased with the outcome. It may have happened a year quicker than it should have. Another
principle may have come in and say hey maybe I would've laid low that first year. But all I was
throwing at them was what the district had been doing for years. But they hadn't been doing it up
here. It's playtime, that's what I saw. I had parent volunteers coming in after the secretary was let
go and saying I feel a lot more comfortable coming into the school now. Because she was kind of
a harsh person and that PTA ladies quit and took their kids to another school or home school
them. They had master keys to the school. This is the only show in town so everybody in this
community feels like this is their home to. Yah, they go up on the roof where to put your razor
wire around the back because they would go up on the roof and hit golf balls off of it. Just
recently. And so I found out when I got here that people were just helping themselves to this
building. And I think you'll find the same thing in many rural school I got the same comment
from La Verakin and Hurricane. They just kind of thrown the school because they're allowing it
to come into the community they feel like it's part of ours too. Well, we're not going to open up
the building to whoever to sponsor wanted to go to the time. When I first got here they have a lot
of aides and helpers. They have a large class sizes that they have a lot of aides with them. And
teachers would sit here in the lounge and and just talk and laugh until the bell rang. No copying
machines were being used, crickets were chirping in the work room. And then about 910, after
about morning announcements, here came all the aides and to make photocopies and
preparations for the day swipe all the aides aside and said this is wonderful to have all these
teacher aides I need to get you in the classroom reading with the kids and helping out, though we
don't do that. We do the copies, we correct the tests for them, we enter their scores in the
gradebook. Right now I'm dying to have aides in the lower grade to help with the reading, I can
afford them. The way he afforded them was he would buy a myriad of teacher aides at each
class size would be almost 38. Two or three aides in each classroom. And I'm saying let's get
each of the classes to 20, and if I can get a teacher aide, and of course now I can't afford them,
so I pulled all the teacher aides aside and like half of them quit. And then the teachers got upset
that I fired all of the teacher aides. And I said I did not. They are reading aides and I got them
reading. The day were defending the teacher that was their friend their pal that they were
teaching, that they had been hoping for years probably. Through for years they've been in Mrs.
so-and-so or Mr. sos and so‟s class, helping them out, you will do are very loyal, not to leave it
to them. So when I pulled them aisde and said that's the teachers job and, he can make the
copies, he can put his scorers in the rulebook, he can do his own planning. It would be really

                                                 74
beneficial if you guys want me with a student. If you actually get in and listen to some kids
during. I'll show you how here are some prompts you can use, here are some things to look for. It
took about for five months before I lost them all. Then all a sudden they got the idea, boy, he‟s
a slave driver. I never really had a come to Jesus meeting , I just thought, this is what first year
principals go through. Will this all happened really quick that first year. That PTA started
accusing me of all kinds of thing. they would, stand behind me on the playground and take
pictures of the kids, and then they brought them to the school board comments have seen no
supervision. They were standing next to the supervisor taking a picture. it finally culminated in
me and brought before the board with a whole hall of parents who were angry and I sat in the
front row of the couple were members of the front page of the board members and agents said
what's the problem and diamond Valley and then boom boom boom will people started standing
up,he‟s this, he‟s that, never once did they turn to me and say Kelly, if that was true, is that
what's going on. I never got one word in. They just sat there and blasted me in front of the
school board. One teacher came down to this Board meeting and said it the first time we have a
principal, a real principle, for the first time. And she was from this area. And it shut them all up.
And then the school word really did think a lot of her anyway. She was a second grade teacher. I
had been waiting for the third and fourth and fifth grade teachers to finally start working in the
school. She had it written down. And I thought thank God that they're somebody who recognized
what a school is supposed to look like. She had been taught up here all her life, shed taught in
other schools, so she knew. It was a great. There were a couple of parents who came, but were
quiet, and sat in the background that finally stood up and said I've noticed this, I've noticed that.
And then the board took me aside and said what the heck is going on. And I explained these
things to them. And they said okay, that secretaries gone. They backed me up. But to bring it be
forth in front of that group, and in front of them all not support me, or ask me for some rebuttal,
it was hurtful. It was nice to have them come to my aid, to stand behind me in, and to let some
people go that were instigators, that was good. And then we reorganize the PTA, I got back a
master keys. And that was before the big meeting, one of the things that made them mad. So it
was quite an experience that first year. And after that it's been a lot better. That culture changed
when a secretary changed the attitude and feel changed once I got another staff developer. The
first person that I had was brand-new to the district and she's now a staff developer and another
school. She and I had tried to focus the teachers in on literacy and we tried to do what we could
to help them out. To help him catch the vision of what literacy is that what guided reading is and
what teaching writing is and what words their Way is. These things are brand-new to everybody
here, but not everybody, the lower grade teachers knew what to do with it. So another principal
lost their staff developer so they came to me and said we really need fewer staff developer
because she's getting some good focus, and you taught her, so she knows now what to do, and I
really need her and in this bigger school downtown. And it was right next door to where she
lived, so she asked me should be okay. Well, I went to one of these younger, lower grade
teachers, and asked her if she would be willing to be the staff developer in this teacher that I
picked would not be a staff developer before because she didnt feel the support from the


                                                 75
principal. Every time she would want to do something that principle would say, oh, let's not
ruffle any feathers. So once she saw that I was going to get us focused in and going somewhere
she became my staff developer for a And and then she moved on to reading recovery and she's
one of the district reading recovery trainers now. So I had a year with her and then Dr. Truman
came on board. So what Dr. Truman, she was new to the district and to the leveled library guided
reading approach because she came from or where there is a basal reader, but she had never seen
this particular approach to literacy and before and she was really excited about it. So we began
researching schools that were low income, low social economic, five minorities, and still scoring
90% of their kids proficient. So we looked at that article and started looking at what those
schools were doing. And that's the 90/90/90 school article that we talked about. We went through
it as a school and picked up the points and everything that we could do. Then Dr. Truman started
initiating it little by little with the things we could do. What can we incorporate here to be a step
up from where we were going anyways. The first couple of years before she got here, we were
able to make pretty good strides in literacy. I don't know about test scores. Then Dr. Truman just
took it a little bit further and we, I don't know if I can take too much credit, and that's what we
got to the first year Dr. Truman was here. It was pretty tough for the faculty to because she held
their feet to the fire a little more than I would.

I had Dr. Truman for two years, so Shauna will be my fifth staff developer. I go through staff
developers like crazy. I don't know what it is. I trained him really well, let's put it that way. Right
now, I'm really enjoying the principal. Our focus is on literacy because our scores are low and
writing. So I applied to be part of this State literacy conference. Every month I go. It's run by the
state office is overseeing it and we go visit a school on one day and then we get a lecture on the
next date on literacy and how to make it better

How would you describe the culture of your school?

That culture that I've been trying to put cultivate as they come in here is number one, they get
greeted by someone who shows that we are open and willing to have parents involved. It's a nice
person to greet them at the front. But once they start walking down the hall if they're really
paying attention to what the school is all about, there's goals and missions statements by every
single teacher on the wall right as they walk in. The very next bulletin board is the balanced
literacy academics and once they turned the hall are going to see academics, academics,
academics as they go down. Our culture is one of learning, we are not playing games here, our
purpose is and to do a lot of frilly things; we focused on writing. We have a culture of learning
here and were really serious about what the kids are accomplishing about what they're learning.
Not exactly what they're singing or drawing or whatever and I know there're going to be those
who are in music who say that kids who are involved in music score better on tests but we don't
have violin lessons here. I guess it's also the welcoming teacher who is advertising for parent
volunteers were encouraging parents to be involved. I try to put up a note every week or every 10
days at least that just communicates with the parents what direction were going, how our kids are


                                                  76
performing, do note that goes home and let them know what's happening. Actually the last little
while and then, there's the flu update for like the last month. We actually had three teachers who
have swine flu in their own kids.

How would you describe the culture of your staff?

Today's classrooms and to show interest in what they're doing is and what the climate will and
kind of like the culture. But the climate here is to know that I support them and what they're
doing so long as they're doing and are supposed to be doing.

How do they know you support them?

the feedback I give them when I go in their classrooms. Anytime I walk into a classroom it's with
the feed back, so that they know what I've seen, and what I like. Every time I give them feedback
on something really good that I saw. And sometimes there aren't any suggestions. But there is a
young teacher, and I have a couple of suggestions, or put something down the paper like have
you tried this.

How often are you in their classrooms?

Every week I go in their classrooms, informally. I had some formal evaluations I had to do this
month. So it's been a while as I've been distracting in their classrooms. These last couple weeks
have been doing a formal evaluations.

How do you encourage the culture that exists among the staff?

The teachers do fun things together. Like Shauna said today, it's the close knit. I think it's the
PLCs themselves, we meet together. It's almost like a forced, you've got to get along or you don't
succeed kind of thing. And you're going to meeting with them for 45 minutes every week plus
another half an hour 45 minutes at the end of the week plus another half an hour or 45 minutes at
the end of the week. Like today at one o'clock 130, they usually meet together and plan. But we
do a PLC we don't plan, PLC isn't for planning time, its first students. I think the whole, bringing
the faculty together in a larger group even in the larger school 85 staff members and 45 of them
are teachers you still got to have a meeting with all teachers not just departments. I mean I would
bring them all together at least one is and do something. And that's what we do here, and we're
unique in that, not every school can do that. And a lot of times I bring that up in the principal
meaning and the supervisor, Richard Holmes or the assistant superintendent will say Kelly,
you're just unique. Not everybody's got what you got so clam up because we can give that to
everybody. But what we have is a PE teacher that can take their class out for PE for 45 minutes
while we PLC. Not everybody else gets that. The weekly staff meetings, it's not for me to tell
them anything, it's for the staff developer to stand up there and teach them new. Right now we're
not getting too many new things, but it's a good exercise. When we get into the real teaching
things she's got guided reading ready to go and I'll have a few things from the principal literacy


                                                 77
conference to tell them that her guided reading lessons usually bring a teacher and to model a
lesson to talk about what we saw and actually teach them how to teach the methodologies. Every
Friday its on-site training, how can you function without it. I don't know how they do it, without
some on-site training, and we get every week. We're unique in getting done. I've just said guys
you‟ve got to think outside the box, and it really brings the staff together. Do the staff would
wake up every morning at like seven in the morning, no they probably don't. And they would
much rather teach the way they taught four years ago, and do the exact same thing last year, it's
easy and you want to teach math, here you go, here's my lesson. But if there's something new and
innovative and research-based and it's been tested and proven why not try it, why not at least tell
them about it. The reason we decided to do guided reading is because two and teachers came
Shauna and said, look we are a little rusty in guided reading. The feedback comes to Shauna as
the staff developer, it doesn't come to me because they don't feel comfortable coming to me
because I'm the evaluator. The reason that it handled this way is that when I came up here I had
all the answers. I knew it all. I was all knowledgeable and I was right on everything. And when I
would say, hey, this always worked for me, and they would say, well it doesn't work for me, and
I know it because I just never saw it in practice. And I got accused of coming across as really
heavy and, being the dictator, and all he's got to do was stand up. And all I could see when I
stood up was been tuning me off. And now I've been watching kids for 23 years tune me off or
tune me in, and I know what it looks like. So when I stand up and I can see it in their eyes, it's
over. When I figured out I could just tell us staff developer, here's some things bring this up,
bring this up, bring this up. It's the same thing that I brought up three weeks ago and they were
receptive to her why, because she's a peer. She's walking my walk, she talking my talk, you
understand, I'm not be evaluated by her, she's not turning anything in. I've told the teachers too,
and that the staff developer walks into your classroom and do anything and she sees something
wrong, she‟s not going to tell me. I've got to discover that on my own. I‟m bound by law, and I
have to turn in an evaluation on these guys. I'm their judge and jury, and Shauna is not. She's
been in the classroom they seen her class, she was the reading recovery teacher. They know that.
They haven't seen me in the classroom, they don't know if I was successful. Like right now, if
they have a question with the curriculum map they‟re not going to come to me, they're going to
go to Shauna. They're going to go to the person who presented it. They go to Shauna if they have
a question about instruction and they come to me if they have a problem, how are we going to
fund this, well you help me get that. Lot of the teacher concerns come out during PLC meeting,
that's why I attend all of them. A laudable come walking down the hall from that, or they may
come in later in afterwards and say, you know, we were talking about this. Usually it's more
confident teacher who isn't intimidated by me not just me. We sit d a table, and we have five
people in a PLC, and one person is completely silent, always, is this person intimidated?
Absolutely. Does she dare say anything? Is she intimidated by teacher A over here can't shut up.
We set up group norms and I'll bet right now not one teacher can name them. They are in their
PLC binders. They're on the first page. They set them. And they can't name them.

How do you manage group norms?

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If we have a team that's struggling, usually I will say something in that PLC meeting and its
usually the first or second year teachers; they‟re intimidated, they don't dare say a thing. They are
not going to say, hey, that doesn't work. And here's a 15 year veteran who says, and what are you
basing that on. There are just some of those in there, it's just their core personality, they just
won't speak up. And to draw that out of their personality, it's going to take some counseling.

Do you see PLCs as being systemic throughout your school?

There are a few that would hold a PLC anyway. There are some that would just as soon have me
gone so they wouldn't have to hold them, because they think they can do things without them. I
would like to see it more and instilled. We can motivate them, we can show them, but the real
true test is when we're gone. Or when Shaun is gone, and they sit down and hold a real Plc. If
Shauna and I show up 20 minutes late and just walked in, kind of like a test will they be in the
middle of a PLC or will they be dinking around, and when we show up will they open up their
binders and say, okay let's get started. Someone who will, no dispute going. Of course you know
we do have the team of the year.

Do the other teams know what this team is doing?

unfortunately they don't get a chance to go down and look at the PLC in action, I wish they
would, I wish they could, but their teachings at one o'clock, who‟s going to cover their class? It
isn't going to be indeed and it isn't going to be Shauna because were both down in the PLC
meeting.. It would really be a great thing if we would use money to hire based or subs to come
up and take a class every week and let them come down and watch with a first-rate team. As all
the first grade team is doing is following the very agenda we set a year ago that we taught them
how to do. They've bought into the philosophy that were meeting to find out what is that little
guy struggling with? What did we teach him, what do we really want him to know, how do we
know if he learned it, and what are we going to do with him if he didn't learn it? What's the big
deal? Not all of them do it. They just sit down and say how we going to do this writing
assignment? And sometimes there's been just once this year I have to say that PLC is frustrating
the heck out of me. And they turned to me and said, why? And I said, because we haven't
mentioned kids and one. So we got to go back to the basics of what this thing is, we're here for
the kids. You guys can plan this next Friday. But what's the reason why we're here? Where's
some evidence that the kids have been doing anything? Who is it that low? what are we doing for
those kids that are low? What about the kids that are really high than they are to do this going in?
Let's talk about the kids. Sometimes I had to reel them back in. But I come across pretty heavy.
And then I have to write them a little note, that says, you know I really appreciate all that you
guys are doing, I understand that you are under constraints, let's just get this thing done right.
Then the next couple of weeks we were fine. They were a lot better. We have the kids on
magnets. We were moving them around. And we were talking about who we are moving in what
they were doing what we did for an intervention. How the intervention when. But we're going to


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do next. It was just a lot better. But every once in a while I have to reel them back in, but that's
not why I'm there.

I am the only one here who's been to a Dufour conference. I loved it. And I sent Michelle
Truman when she first came because she didn't have any idea what a PLC was. And I sent her to
Atlanta. I used the whole entire 2000 to send her to a PLC conference. It was the only one
offered in the fall. And I needed her to go with PLCs were. And she was from Vegas where they
hold the conferences every summer. So here she was going to spend the whole entire year as the
staff developer and I didn't want the year to be wasted if she didn't get the vision of what a PLC
is. And we started to discuss it as a group of principals -- and that first year and what there's no
way teachers aren't even close, I don't even understand it. That was three years ago. And then
Michelle got on board, I sent her to the training and we started during that first year doing PLC's,
we didn't know exactly what we were doing. Anyways, then Michelle got on board, we had an
idea of what PLCs were, we were getting together and planning, and I was all the time telling the
staff developer don't let them plan. You've got to help me out here. So when we get through with
one we'd walk down the hallway and sit in her office and say howd that PLC go? Here's what
we'd like it to do. Here‟s what it's designed to do. She had never been to a PLC conference either
so they were only going by what I was teaching them. So it was a rough road that first couple of
years so when Michelle came I said I've got to send them to a PLC conference so they'll know
what they are at least, what a PLC stands for. We had kind of the idea. We were meeting and we
were trying to some cases it was successful in some cases it was. And then Michelle just kind of
tweaked it after going to the conference. I think it's effective now. I like the idea. I don't know if
everybody buys into it like I said before.

How are you measuring its effectiveness?

What's effective is how the kids are getting taught now. We set our two-week goals, a short term
goal and then in our PLC meeting we discussed that goal. Sometimes it's a math goal or writing
goal. Next we meet in the PLCs will set up another one. For a focus on your writing traits or
particular writing strategy or reading strategy. Usually its language arts related. And maybe they
want the kids to come out 90% of the kids be proficient in a rubric they designed with a very
specific skills. Whether its convention, like capitalization or periods, and younger grades, or so
many sentences in a paragraph that actually relate to the topic. Anyway you get the idea. Without
the PLC what do we do with the kids that didn't get it? Go on to the next unit. That's exactly
what you do? It's what we all did. What do we do with the kids and got it already? What about
pretest didn't mean anything no, it didn't mean anything. Even for the kid that got hundred
percent of the pretext was he going to do all of these? Yes every one of them. Why? In the PLC
we designed with the interventions going to be a smart kids too and what the interventions going
to be for the kid who didn't even come close. Is that going to be frontloading? Do you want to
pre-teach some things to this kid? I mean, after all. If the average kid got 60 and this kid got 10%
is going to have to be some frontloading here. What we can do for him? Would we take him
aside and do a little intervention with him? And who's going to do it? And what's their
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assignment going to be? That's all part of the PLC. That's why I say it's kids that are the
beneficiaries of the PLC because the whole idea is that they don't slip through the cracks. That's
the ultimate goal of the PLC. Nobody slips through the cracks. Not the high kid and not the low
kid, so we do interventions that they don't.

In first grade their intervention is the kids who got it already goes to the computer lab. That frees
up either one or two teachers to take the other kids and give them specific strategies that they
need to learn that they did. So they teach them over in a different and they have a group of eight
kids maybe it's 20 and their going through the intervention with them, re-teaching it once or
twice a week so they're always getting extra time or support in that one area that they set their
goal. So for those kids even after the post test that didn't understand it they can pull them aside
about 45 minutes while the other kids are in computer lab being watched by the computer lab
aide. Sometimes another teacher is in there too and that usually during three o'clock time to
divide the kids that are really struggling and each of them will take one specific area of that
rubric for that half an hour. The very next day it can happen again because there's another
computer lab time time and because the classes are relatively small, there's not quite 50 kids in
all of first-grade and there's 35 computers so we can get almost all of them on a computer and the
others can be divided up.

They also set both long and short-term goals sometimes you'll see up on their boards there's two
different goals one that's due in three weeks, and one that's due next week.

If we could just intervene once a day. That would be wonderful most the time to really get up
twice a week. The ones that are doing it twice a week are way up there and are doing so well.
Third through fifth is getting together. So one person will take all the kids and do music and the
other two will divide up the other kid. So there's one third-grade teacher is one fourth grade
teacher and there's one fifth grade teacher who will take the intervention kids and each one of
them has a different goal. The fourth grade teacher isn't going to take 5th and 3rd graders in her
class because she's not working on the same thing. I have to get it clear in my mind how they
rotate through all that but it seems like the third-grade teachers teaching singing is also going to
teach the fourth and fifth graders singing and the fifth grade is also going to teach, I don't know
what else, maybe it's art, maybe it's singing too, maybe they're all three singing, who knows. Or
they're doing some art project or some craft or some drama and Its always the same teacher
because not all teachers want to teach singing, but one teacher that that's Mr. Marshant. He says
I'll call it the school choir.

I don't know if it's unique, it‟s a goal that they bought into because they set the goal. And the
intervention deals with the very goals that they set. It's not just a standard intervention. I've been
in schools and I've seen some standard interventions it's like a math camp. We‟re going to divide
up so these guys are going to study this, and these guys are going to study this and everybody
goes to a different teacher for a math activity And they called that their interventions. But it
doesn't match the goal doesn't correlate with the tests you gave to see if the goal was met. And

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kids who didn't meet the goal or didn't rise to the occasion and may need more support, and their
different each time, and we track what we did with that student and after about a month or two
we start looking at our interventions and what students names repeatedly shows up on the
interventions. If it's the same students name that continually shows up were going to hold a TAT
meeting for that kid can say hey there may be something going on with this student. So we end
up with all of these kids lists, their names and interventions, it's a great documentation system.
Every team keeps a list such as this in their binders that they discuss each week discussing what
the intervention was and who was supposed to do it. As I look at the team's binders I would like
to be able to say when come to this point what did you do how did it go.

They set a year-long goal and then every two to three weeks they set a new goal but realistically
I don't know that most teachers can even remember the grade level year long goal. My
experiences has found that short-term goals are the most effective. They mean the most, that's
why we put them out there on the wall. I want them to revisit them. That's the whole purpose for
us posted from the door so as they walk by, there's their goal they should do to tell you what their
goal is and what do because it's right up there on the door.

Is there someone who manages data for them?

Digital CSIP is a place where all of the teachers can go to look at their data and from there they
set a goal. For example 85% of all students will be proficient in language arts. It's on the
computer now they fulfilled that responsibility and now they're done. That's all they see; that we
did it. And the other guys look at it and say, yes, they did it. I would say that we‟re in the 80%
for upper grades and in the 90% for lower grade. We also use AJAX to help up to compile our
data. All the data goes through AJAX like the Iowa tests and then we can use it in a variety of
different ways.

How would you describe the relationship between PLC‟s and your school's adaptability to
change?

It would have a lot to do with the culture of the school. This is what would have to happen. The
others at the school would have to have access to the others PLC meetings in order for it to make
a difference. Teachers would have to have an avenue or a venue where they could interact with
one another on a professional basis not just over lunch. We tried having bigger PLC‟s like once a
month and it served the purpose of the time. And in those staff meeting we‟d cross team bringing
two teams of six or seven people with the objective to go through a study like jigsawing. I wish
Michelle was here because she was the one that orchestrated that. It was for a specific reason
could've been 90/90/90 article. It was to go through some research, some article so we could get
very different grade levels, and perspectives. We‟ve also done this type of splitting up PLC
groups in our current meetings, they come in to staff meeting with the seating assignment and
they could do that to effect some change that I started in one PLC and if I broke that PLC up to
discuss what they'd had done differently in their tables. We could do it in our weekly Friday

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meetings. Or if I wanted to say, I've seen something in our PLC binders that is lacking, so I split
up the team or two that's had success in logging and their interventions like we had in mind they
could show that to other groups and you could affect change that way. Because now it's not
coming from top down it's coming from peers so while it actually is coming from top down.

That's a hypothetical situation if I have something going well and I want to share it with others.
Let's let's just say we want them to start something, but using a PLC to do it. So that the whole
entire group. This is going to be tricky because not anybody in the group is doing it yet and they
all know that they're supposed to or maybe they don't know that they're supposed to and this is
just a new thing. So now you've got to sell this group on it. So the first thing that I would do is
try to establish the fact that I have confidence in who they are and I've seen a lot of good things
so I'm going to tell them that I respect them as a professional and here is something we need to
look at. Let's just take a look at it together. Here's some research I just got and I'm wondering
what you guys think about the direct instruction of it. Lets just take a look at it, id like your
opinion. Or coming to them and saying what are your struggle in language arts, what are some of
the areas the kids are really low in? Part of the problem is some people generally don't think that
they need to change. They‟ve been doing the same thing for the last 10 years and they‟re going
to keep doing it for the next 20. Schools are full of them. You create a need by taking them out
of their comfort zone and let them see what real teaching looks like they look at somebody else's
teaching and they say, oh, there is another way. So this is what Kelly is expecting, what I'm
seeing right here? I went with them when we sat in those classrooms and talked about what we
saw. My goals after coming here four years ago are just starting to happen. Schools dont change
overnight but we‟re coming along.

How would your staff describe your role in leading, initiating, and supporting a
professional learning community?

I don't know how they would describe it. I'd like to know. He's been there and I can't stand the
fact that he has to think he has to come in and to every one of our meetings in some cases. For
me, I do how I would answer it but I don't know how they're going to answer it. I used to give
out little surveys leadership surveys that I've gotten out of different books and staff can fill in
anonymously if they did not exist or would it create partially agree a different leadership styles.
It's really helpful actually, it was really good. The EYE teachers get a survey and in that survey
they have questions about leadership and their principals ever come into the classroom give-and-
take that, if they ever have on-site training. We actually got dinged by a teacher who says we
never have on-site training and were holding every week. And only one person to filled in the
survey so we were 100% in that area. I would hope that through my rose-colored glasses that
they would actually see be as helpful to the PLC process. And that is actually there to assist to
keep them either on task or that they are a part of the PLC team that's going to help decide what's
best for kids. I would hope, I'm not there to evaluate them to get after them for not being on task.
I had to once this year but normally that's not my role in their just another one is going to throw
at the suggestion for intervention. I just one more voice and do more voices you get PLC the
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more effective it is. I mean two people meeting togejhter wont have as many ideas as four. But
that's what I hope to see, that's what I'm trying to establish. I hope they see it as he must see it as
important or he would spend his time someplace else.

Can you provide some specific examples of how your role has changed since the first
initiation of PLC‟s?

my role as the principal has change because of PLCs because now my role is to be part of the
PLC. Whereas before I could just be an evaluator or a quaisi leader who has expectations but as
the PLC member that puts me in their problem hopefully as a solution or as another voice for a
solution which is a different role for principal to be. Now the principal has direct knowledge of
students so when I see little Damion on the playground then I know where he's at and what his
needs are, succeeding or not. Yeah my role now is a little more where the rubber meets the road.
It's different, as an administrator are not always there where the rubber meets the road so to
speak but as a member of the PLC you are. It gives a little more time to the different grade levels
as a team they're the ones that set the goals the ones that come up with the interventions the ones
that decide how the interventions will take place. A lot of times they'll come by with their papers
to grade which is a perfect activity to do with the PLC to find out if kids mastered the concept or
if they did. It fits well with my leadership style. Most of the things that then superimposed by the
district I had to get sold on myself and surprisingly the more I looked into it studied it, read about
it went to conferences about it, maybe im easily swayed. If they come and say how bout we do
this and I say no, we‟re not going to do that and not be easily persuaded. But if they come in and
say hey you know what we want to grow box out in the playground then start growing corn. I'll
say okay, tell me more about it, it's a good idea. I can be persuaded.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with me regarding your leadership role
and professional learning communities?

the really hasn't been anything about the kids and we do a lot with them. We do a little assembly
every month we give them awards so every single student gets an award during the year at its
parent is invited because this may be the only time he gets an award in anything or ever feel like
he was successful in anything. We're really trying to build the students up and built up their self-
esteem. It's a big thing we do a character at assembly every month where the teachers and
sometimes even I take a role in a readers theater it's called a Marvin and Jessie and they have the
interacting readers Theatre where they get into trouble and they figure out how to get out of
trouble by using a life skill. The teachers are part of the readers theater tickets of a lot of fun with
it after that we give out awards. That's part of our culture. Our kids feel Appreciated. When I go
into a classroom if I see a problem with the teacher and the way that they treat the students have
to put that directly talk to the teacher. If I walk into a classroom teachers is being sarcastic with
the student in front of others be belittling someone, yelling and are not yelling. Normally they
don't yet know because it's too easily detected. So that's an example of what I would take
teachers aside and say that that is stop. But kids will tell you that this is a good school not based

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on the cook's or the principles of the custodians it's based on the one teacher that they've got that
year. And their parents is going to go out and say that the great school because of the teacher.
Not because the principles on the playground, it's teacher.




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Staff Director School #1

Could you begin by giving me an overview of your professional educational background?

Professional in regards to education . . . I started out a kindergarten teacher, and taught for one
year doing full day kindergarten – which I loved. I really at first thought that it would be too
much for the five year olds to stay all day, but when I went back into the kindergarten classroom
– after a break with third grade, I went to third grade and then went back into the kindergarten
classroom – I found that the full day schedule was so much nicer because I wasn‟t, I didn‟t feel
like I was shoving information down their throat quickly, like I do in the half day kindergarten.
So I felt like it was a more relaxed atmosphere – we had more time for the floppy stuff. You
know, the fun finger painting sort of things, and the kids weren‟t quite as rushed. And, I don‟t
feel like I taught them any more, but I feel like what I taught them stuck better. They were able
to assimilate it a little better because it was at a slower pace – and so I felt like it stuck a little
better, I really liked that. So, kindergarten, third grade, back to kindergarten, and now in my
current role as staff developer.

Has the whole plan been here at ?????

No, I started out in King County, which is Lake Powell basically – Kanab, Lake Powell area.

Given your role as staff developer, what experiences have helped prepare you for this
position?

I don‟t think anything prepares you to be a staff developer. But, the one thing that I did have
really going for me going into this position was that I already have really good relationships with
all the teachers here. It would be . . . I think there would pros and cons to going into a school
where you didn‟t know anyone, and going in as a lead teacher and staff developer. I think that . .
. this might be too personal, but I think some of the teachers might – they know me on a personal
level because I‟ve taught here for so many years. And so then as I come into this role, I think
they – I don‟t know if the perception changed at all – I‟m still one of the teachers. Which is
good and bad. It can be good, it can be bad, because they accept me. I can go into their room
and they don‟t stiffen up and clam up, they just go about their business like they would, and I
think that is a good thing. But on the other hand I don‟t think that they always take me seriously
because they know me as one of them. And so it‟s good and bad, but I think just – part of the
thing that prepared me for staff developer, probably the most, was that I had two really good
staff developers before me, that I worked with, that I model what I do after. And they were
opposite ends of the spectrum. The one was very easy going, very student driven, very – she did
small groups in her office and was just very relaxed. And the other one was very driven, and
very much curriculum oriented. And so I‟ve drawn from both of the those staff developers that
kind of mentored me, and I model after them.

How long has Washington School District had staff developers

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I believe six years at least. Perry was the SD here I think when it opened, at least six years.

So how long has Kelley been principle?

He‟s been principle for . . . six years I think. I know that he‟s had an SD the entire time he‟s
been here, I don‟t know about previously, because I didn‟t teach at the school previous to that.

When did they make this PLC component associate with an SD?

As long as I‟ve been here it‟s been the same type of protocol. There‟s been the principle, the SD,
and then the team members on the grade level team that have met as the PLC.

So for all six years you guys have been doing PLCs?

Yes. Now they‟ve changed a bit. They‟ve been refined and tweaked a bit as we‟ve gone along
and found what really worked for us and what needed to happen. It came from something that
was a little bit informal, but still effective, but more informal to something that‟s very formal
where we have forms that we fill out every time we meet. We have a protocol, a certain agenda
that we follow every time. So it‟s kind of evolved, but it‟s always been the same basic idea –
that we meet with the students in mind, look at assessment, look at where we need to go. And
we make plans from there, either for interventions or extensions or re-teaching. So it‟s always
been that same basic model, but has evolved into a more formal . . .

Did they train him?(Kelley) Have you had a chance to go the DuFours?

I haven‟t, but I would love to, and we‟re actually looking at sending myself and several team
leaders from here, going to a PLC boot camp or something like that – that‟s what I‟ve heard it
referred to as. But I read a lot of the books, I‟m learning by doing, and some of the other things
that are associated with it.

Where does the impetus for PLCs come from?

I think that several years ago they did send a group from the district to a DuFour training, but I
wouldn‟t have been involved, I was a classroom teacher at the time.

Is there anything else?

Yeah, just basically I modeled what I do after what my other staff developers previously have
done. Also, when I knew that the opening was coming up, I did a lot of research, a lot of
studying on what effective SDs do, or lead teachers (that‟s what they‟re referred to as in some
areas – lead teachers, staff developers, literacy coaches). So I really looked more at research
than at antictodal kind of papers, trying to see what I could do that would really be an impetus
for change. And a lot of what I came back to was the ????????????. And I‟ve written down
quotes, and I‟ve posted them up randomly, but one of the things out of ??? that they said was that
“Effective change comes from a constant disquiet with the status quo.” And I think that kind

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of embodies what I feel. It might be working, but could it work better? Can we be more
effective? So yes . . . from my mentors, and then from my own research. And then I just wing it
after that.

Do you enjoy it? Are you glad you made the transition?

I really enjoy it. I feel like I have . . . the chance, the opportunity, to make a lot of difference in
my school. Sometimes I feel like I‟m running into brick walls at times. In fact I just watched a
movie last night that a friend recommended – it‟s from PBS, it‟s called “Tale of two schools,
reading rockets”. And it kind of delineated for me the difference between an effective coach and
an effective coach – they were referred to as the teachers known at school. But the one was all
about the teachers, all about the students, and the other one was prioritizing according to funding
and, just two different takes one it. But I do have an opportunity to make a big difference in my
school, but there‟s so many politics involved, and so many personalities involved that sometimes
you have to go about it in a different way – and I‟m not very political sometimes. So I‟ve had to
really be thoughtful and be considerate about how we‟re going to go about something. We can‟t
just go in and say, “This is what we‟re doing,” because that‟s, you‟re going to just get a lot of
resistance if you do it that way. So I‟ve had to learn a lot about politicking in my position. And
I do miss the kids a lot – so I‟ve found ways to worm my way back into the classroom all the
time. Yes, I enjoy my position very much, it‟s just been a big change from the classroom. …
The meetings get tedious, and the paperwork gets on my sometimes. But then I go in and I do
reading groups, or I go model something in a classroom, and I get to interact with the kids and
then I‟m refreshed, and I come back in and start again. It might be my niche, I don‟t know. I
think I might end up back in the classroom in a few years – I just think that‟s where I‟ll end up.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

Tough . . . I can start by telling you kind of demographically, and that affects the culture of our
school a bit. But we‟re predominantly Caucasian – and until recently we were definitely
upper/middle class, with very few low SES. Very few ethnic minorities, very few ELL students.
So, really if you look at it from the outside looking in, we really have it good as far as our
demographics of our students. However, we have some of the same barriers, obstacles that any
school would face. We have kids that are neglected, kids whose parents work all the time, kids
that don‟t get read to at home, kids that are emotionally in need. But we just don‟t have, I think,
the percentage, that other schools would have to deal with. But still, it‟s funny, because we will
appeal to the district, “Oh, we need help because we have this student and their so low,” and then
the district comes in and says, “Low?” If you went and looked at another school, this student
would be the highest one in the class. And so we have kind of a skewed perception of what high,
middle, and low is in our classrooms – but, what I try and bring to the teachers is . . . the district
is going to come in and tell you that you‟re kids aren‟t low, but you just have to look back at the
district/whoever is telling you and say „we have higher expectations here. They are low, and if
they are lower than the rest of our students, then it‟s our job to bring them up regardless of how

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they compare to the rest of the district. Their focus is there are lower students. So that‟s been
one of the problems that we‟ve faced – comparing ourselves to the rest of the district doesn‟t
always work, because we‟re just a different kind of a school. We have fairly low student
population. A lot of our teachers live in this area. We have quite a few that live in the valley,
and some that live not very far away. And so their part of the community, which is good and bad
sometimes, because we are very secluded – we live 15 minutes outside of town. It‟s only 15
minutes, but it seems like miles away because when you get here you don‟t see any of the city,
because we have the mountains around us. I‟m not sure if I‟m answering your question right, but
the culture works . . .it‟s kind of like anything – you get the teachers together and their like a
classroom of students with different learning styles, needs, strengths, focuses and challenges.
And they do, not necessarily within their grade level teams, but they do form alliances, they do
have/there are teachers who can‟t stand other teachers. But . . . for the most part, our school has
a unified feeling, for the most part. There‟s very little gossiping, backbiting, there‟s very little of
that. There‟s only a couple of personality disagreements. But he culture of our school,
collectively, we focus on reading, writing and math – we don‟t do a lot with the arts, we don‟t do
a lot with music, drama and things, except in the individual classrooms – and our focus is on
those three basic things. High expectations – we might not have low students compared to the
rest of the district, but if I had to tell somebody, “this is what‟s really good about our school,”
our teachers are really passionate about their students and constantly going to classes, constantly
learning new things – such a large percentage of our school, the teachers have a masters degree,
maybe half of our teachers/6 or 8 of the 15/16 teachers have or are working on it right now,
which is amazing. So constant learning, not just with the students but with the teachers too, and
the teachers portray that. But there is some resistance to some things that we ask the teachers to
do or to focus on, and they have their own agendas – but for the most part it‟s a culture of high
expectations, excellence, no excuses, that sort of thing. I picture in my head my different PLCs,
the ones that worked very effectively, and the ones that are just right now emerging into
something that is more effective, and how the culture, beliefs and the attitudes of the team
members affect so much that element of their teaching, that PLCs. … And how the present their
vision – and what they expect – how they present it is so important.

What role do principles play in designing cultures?

Kelley goes through me to implement change a lot of the time – and he went through Michelle to
implement change a lot of the time (previous staff developer).

What does that mean – he goes through . . .?

If he – sometimes he will address the staff and say, “We need to do this, we are going to do that,”
and he‟ll just present it in a way that says how it‟s going and this is what we‟re going to do.
And sometimes he‟ll present it in a way that will elicit some buy-in – he‟ll say this is why, this is
how, this is when, that sort of thing, so that he can get the staff to understand that it‟s necessary,
or that it‟s just district policy and just how we have to do it, so there are times when he‟ll do that.

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But there are times when he‟ll go about it differently, when he‟ll say, “I really need the teachers
to do . . .” such as put writing up on their bulletin boards, it has to be writing, it can‟t be art
work. And he says, “If I go in and say no, no art work,” then some of the teachers might be
oppositional/defiant – a little passive aggressive, and just put artwork with a little bit of writing
by it, just to . . . Why? Because there are some there that are a little passive aggressive, and
they‟ll just do things. They‟ll say, “Oh, yeah I‟ll do that,” and then they‟ll do it in a very . . .

Do they feel disempowered?

There are some teachers who have the feeling that no matter what they do, it‟s going to be
wrong. And I‟m not sure where that‟s come from – I don‟t if it‟s from the previous principles
that they‟ve worked with, I don‟t know. And different personalities work different together, and
Kelley can say one thing to the entire group, and three or four of them will take it as he‟s talking
directly to them, and that it means they‟re not doing a good job, when it wasn‟t ever intended
that way, it was just, “Hey, I read about this, this was a good idea, why don‟t you try it.” But
they‟ll take it very personally, so we have a few of those personalities on board.

How do you know that? Do they come and tell you?

Sometimes they come and tell me – and so I‟m the mediator a lot of times. So, Kelley will come
through and say, “I need this done, can you enable that for me?” And I‟ll think about it, and
think about how I can approach that teacher in a very unthreatening - not evaluative, not
administrative - sort of way, and I‟ll present it so then the goal is reached, feelings are not hurt.
It‟s just one of the ways that, not all of the time, but sometimes that‟s how he‟ll approach certain
teachers, policies or directives – certain things that need to be implemented. So I‟m kind of a
liason, that‟s one of my job descriptions.

You‟re dealing with a relatively new program with seasoned teachers who may not want to
do something different. What have been the challenges?

Exactly right. The teachers who are coming in and are very new, I 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s – we say, “Oh,
this is what we do,” and they say „okay then‟ and just go with it. The teachers that have been
around for a long time and their used to doing things a certain way, and they might be used to the
closed year doors and doing things your way, it‟s a little tougher for them, but – just as an
example – Mrs. Clarke, been teaching for 30 years, she does PLC very well. She‟s very student
focused, she makes her own agendas and has them printed out and on my desk and Kelley‟s desk
before we even get to the PLC – so she does very well, and she‟s been teaching for a very long
time. But it took her a couple of years to figure out how it fit with her personality, but she‟s very
accepting of it – she could see the value of it. And like I said with the passive aggressive, some
of the teachers are just resisting it because they felt like it was an order.

From Kelley or the district?


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Either – both. So, and some of it‟s just personality conflicts – they just don‟t like how he
approaches things, or they don‟t like how he walks – there‟s some of that. And it goes both
ways, because sometimes he‟s a little – he‟s a man – and sometimes he comes at it with a little
bit of an ego, “this is my school, this is my vision, this is how we‟re going to get it . . .” this is it,
cut and dry, just do it. Which is fine because it is his school, he is the boss, and if he says we‟re
going to walk down the hall backwards on Tuesdays then we should just do it – however some of
the teachers respond, „why? tell my why? why are we going to do that?‟ And I can understand
where they‟re coming from, because some of these teachers have been in teaching for 20, 30
years – they‟ve seen the pendulum. They‟ve seen phonics to whole language and back to
phonics and back to the middle – they‟ve seen it – so they‟re kind of waiting for the pendulum to
swing back the other way. So they want someone to explain to them why, why is this good, how
is this better than what we have been doing – they want proof and evidence before they‟ll just
jump into something with both feet because they‟ve seen programs just come and go.

And after six years they don‟t see their ability to just . . . it regulates kids that nobody
knows what to do . . .

They do see that, but part of this goes back to this boot camp. Some of these teachers were never
trained in what and effective PLC looks like, how it functions. And so as we‟ve come on our
own path, they‟ve had to slowly acclimate to it – and trust me, from where they were four or five
years ago, it‟s a night and day, it‟s a big change, and they are very effective at what they do. But
what sometimes is an issue is different shading between what planning time is – planning for
students – and what PLC time is. PLC time is looking at students, looking at assessment,
gauging who needs interventions, who needs extensions, if the whole thing needs to be re-taught
„cause nobody got it – all those things.

Is the problem „cause there aren‟t that many interventions? You don‟t have that many
little kids . . . hence there‟s . . .

No, because there are district bench marks, and there are some things that are bench marked –
and they‟re above, on, approaching, or below according to the district – and so we will do
interventions according to that, such as the reading, the spelling, the math benchmarks, we‟ll
definitely do interventions on any student that‟s low or approaching according to the district.
But then we have our own common assessments that we do throughout the year on content areas,
and we have topic tests in the math, not just periodic assessments – periodic assessments are
benchmarked, but the topic tests are not. So we have to come up with our own benchmarks,
what‟s below? And we have kids that look like they‟re not getting that topic, then later being…

Would you say 10%, 20% . . . ?

 It depends on the grade level. In kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, the intervention numbers are lower – and
once they reach that 3rd grade pivot where they stop learning how to read, and now they‟re
needing to learn, when they‟ve reached that – 3rd, 4th, and 5th their curriculum is more

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conceptual, more abstract, where in K, 1, 2 it‟s very concrete for the most part. So as you get
into the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades the numbers of students in an intervention are a little higher, but
every grade level does their interventions a little different. First grade has a student intern, and
so they have a little bit more help, where they can have her take the students that have already
got the concept and do an extensions activity with them, while the teachers take the kids that
need and intervention. That‟s 1st grade, and they might have six students out of the whole first
grade that are doing interventions while the rest are doing something else – now in 4th grade they
might have twelve that are doing interventions. And the 3rd, 4th and 5th worked it out to do two
times a week, Wed and Fri they do rotations, and they do it for 45 minutes with the entire 3, 4,
and 5, and they rotate between art, music and science, science extensions. And each grade level
has an opportunity to take their kids that are struggling into interventions. Now 5th grade
generally does it on writing interventions, 3rd grade usually does it on content, and 4th grade
usually does it on math – and then they do their other interventions at other times. The 4th grade
keeps their own 4th grade students for interventions – they send the kids who already have the
concept to music, and they keep their 12 for interventions. So then 3rd grade would keep their six
or eight kids that need interventions in the classroom, and send their other kids to art – so they‟re
going around. So 3rd grade might go to a 5th grade class for singing, but not for anything content,
reading or writing, or anything like that. The “specials” are taught through the rotations in their
own classroom.

When is social studies taught?

Throughout the day – it‟s content area literacy, so anything that the content area has to be
interspersed with reading and writing. So guided reading is done a majority of the time with
nonfiction, informative text. No, no issues with that. A: They still teach poetry, narrative
fiction, fantasy . . . it‟s just that if – I‟ll show you what I tried to do the other day. They‟re
supposed to have three hours of literacy instruction, and an hour to hour and a half of math. So
this was just anybody‟s schedule that I did – so here‟s bellwork?, math chat, and daily oral
language – here‟s morning business and your message – here‟s your content them and focus for
the day – guided reading with the daily thyroid??? there – literacy activities that you do during
guided reading – recess – math – lunch recess – there‟s content area activity with the literary
connection. And then here‟s literacy which is writing, shared reading, interactive. So you do
have your other things interspersed like guided reading, TSI (transactional strategy to your
instruction), silo? assisting, reading, writing with writer‟s workshop, and reader‟s workshop,
shared reading, interactive read-alouds, vocabulary, and spelling has to be in here somewhere –
so as far as science and social studies go, it has to be somehow integrated, or you don‟t have
your three hours of literacy. You see how it doesn‟t really fit in there? So I have about half and
hour of content here, and fifteen minutes of content here, which is science and social studies – so
there‟s no other way to get around it. This literacy down here – shared reading, interactive read-
alouds, reader‟s workshop – definitely a novel, poetry, different things like that – but the only
way to do it is to integrate it if you want to get your full three hours of literacy every day.

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………. A lot of times, and we‟ve gone back and forth with it, how do we fit in what we need to
with content, and pass those … local tests in science and social studies? And science, we were
kind of low in 4th/5th grade, but how do we teach those and still get our full three hours? So that‟s
why we‟ve integrated so much of our guided reading and made it informational text. . . .
Everything that we learn about plants, rocks, weathering, erosion, you‟re going to get again in
the upper grades. So we just have to – art has to be integrated into something that‟s content
related, same with music, so that we‟re constantly reviewing teaching, exploring those content
areas, but we have to do it with our art, reading, writing. If you look in our halls, the writing
that‟s on the board is generally content related – they‟ve written about rocks or growing a
garden. The 5th grade right now has brochures on a battle of the civil war – they‟ve taken what
they‟ve learned about it and in a 5 paragraph essay, and put it into a brochure. It‟s a balancing
act, and there‟s no good, warm fuzzy answer about any of it – we have to really balance the
demands that we‟re given for literacy, and what we‟re expected to teach for content. For the
most part they do test well, and we have those students that lag behind and don‟t make a lot of
progress, like any school, but our test scores are generally okay. I look at research and papers
etc., especially the 90/90 schools, and I think – it says repeatedly that it wasn‟t any particular
program or demographics that really affected being a 90/90 school, it was just effective,
persistent, consistent teaching. It was just the effectiveness of the teachers that made them a
90% school. So I look at what we have here demographically, we‟re blessed. I look at our small
class sizes, and I look at the degrees that our teachers have and that they‟re constantly going to
school, and I just scratch my head, “Why are we not 90% across the board? We should off the
charts, exactly.” And so it‟s a little discouraging to me when we get our test scores back and
we‟re 68%, 72%, 82% . . . it‟s a little discouraging and I don‟t know – not that I think that CRTs
are the end all be all, but they are a base line. I just think that if they can do it, then we should be
able to, so it‟s discouraging to look at the test scores and know how much effort we‟re putting
into putting literacy and content into our day, and we don‟t score as well as I think we should and
I don‟t know why. . . . . . that comes back to PLC right there, because if you can be doing all of
it, but if you‟re not reaching your students, doing it effectively, it‟s not the strategy the students
need, then we need to have data, we need to analyze our student work and analyze their
assessments and see if we need to go a different direction. If we need, not necessarily even an
intervention, if we need to change what we‟re doing a little bit. And sometimes, especially for
teacher‟s who‟ve taught for a long time, that‟s hard to say you need to change what you‟re doing
– it‟s almost like it‟s a personal attack, instead of that we‟re looking at the students, not the
teachers. We‟re looking at the students need and what the students is this, and so they have to
change what they‟re doing – and sometimes that‟s tough for a teacher to hear, that they need to
change what‟s worked for so long, just because their student doesn‟t change. And just being in
the classroom and talking to different teachers, there are some teachers who are very elastic and
flexible, who can see in the middle of a lesson, „this is not going like I thought it would. Time
out, we‟re going to do 5 minute of SSR, I‟m going to regroup, and we‟re going to do it
differently.‟ There are some teachers who are very rigid, „this is the way I planned, this is the


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way I‟m going to teach it, even if . . .‟ Some of the teachers, even if they pretest and 90% of the
students have got the concept, they still teach the unit – instead of saying, „we‟re going to
quickly go over these things, review them, I‟m going to pull back that group of students who
didn‟t get it, and we‟re going to move on.‟ They still teach the unit, even if not needed – some
teachers are just very rigid that way. Now where we‟re on teams and they plan and PLC
together, that . . . sometimes it helps, but often the rest of the team, if it‟s the grade level chair
who‟s that way, then the rest of the younger teachers will say, „Oh, okay, well then we‟ll just do
this activity and . . .‟ I think sometimes if we could just put everybody‟s name in a hat and say,
„Jill, you‟re teaching 4th grade this year. Pack up your kindergarten room cause you‟re moving,‟
and just make them get outside their comfort zone a little bit so they can‟t say they‟ve always
taught it that way – like I‟ve always taught this in January. Because most people get into
teaching for the autonomy, they‟re the king of their classroom, their world, and . . . And that‟s
one of the strengths of PLCs – it forces them to come in and articulate, „this is what I‟ve done,
this is why I did it, this is what happened,‟ and it at least gives them a window into what‟s
happening a lot of the time, and it has affected some change in the way that teachers have done
it. It‟s not just status quo anymore – my big thing on my “norms” is student focused – we‟re not
talking about you, about how you felt about this, we‟re talking about how the students did.
That‟s been a big shift in a lot of our PLCs. . . . . I think that it should be, “this is my vision for
the school. This is how we‟re going to do reading, writing, this is our focus, how we‟re going to
do PLCs, this is what it‟s about. And if you don‟t like it, that‟s fine, it‟s nothing personal – and
maybe I‟ll see you at Walmart.” … out of the 16, 17, 18 people that work here – maybe three or
four that have maybe a more rigid approach to it, or the one is extremely argumentative just to be
argumentative. So you have those personalities that you have to deal with – the trouble we is
that a couple of those that like to just do things in a certain way, and want to use PLC time as
planning time and don‟t really get PLCs are on the same grade level team – and so we have, most
of our PLCs, the majority, go very smoothly and work effectively, and one or two we are still
tweaking and working with them, so they can understand how much power is in working
collectively in student effort and student work.

Issues with the educational system. If that were a real job, they‟d get fired. You don‟t
want to do what I hired you to do, you‟re fired.

I have issues with it as well . . .

What factors of the infrastructure (scheduling, team meetings, when school starts etc.) of
the school influence your schools professional learning communities?

We have something here that I don‟t think any of the other schools in the district have, not that
I‟ve ever heard of. We have a PE teacher that takes our individual classes – she would just take
one 3rd grade, one 4th grade class – and give them their PE time, and that gives their teacher some
prep time. But, once a week, she takes the entire grade level – all of 1st, or 4th, or kindergarten –
once a week she takes all of them, and that‟s our PLC time. So, we don‟t have to give up a

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morning or an afternoon, or come in early or stay late to go to PLCs. We do it every week, every
grade level, except this week – cause of CPs, and … in the afternoon, and it starts at 1:15 – so
unless there is a huge thing like that, it‟s every week, every grade level. She just has it worked
out, so then I can take Friday mornings, our on site training, and do professional development on
that, where other schools are taking (anything that‟s bolded is PLC time – three on Wed . . .
discussed shown schedule) … Our specials include PE, library, computers, that‟s it – no art,
music, no instruments. A couple of years we‟ve had parents volunteer before school to do
strings, or recorders, or some kind of music, or a choir that‟s met before or after school.

So we have the PLC planning time. A lot of our scheduling and things goes back to
transportation – to buses. With budget cuts we only two buses that run up the mountain here, so
if we want to do anything like field trip it takes juggling. But the transportation determines when
we start school and when we end school. In Diamond Valley, we have Winchester down the
mountain a bit, then up further Damron, then Veyo, then Brookside – so all these different
communities coming into Diamond to go to school. Brookside is maybe 17 minutes away and
all highway, and theirs no city transit, so it‟s all school district bussing that we have to rely on to
get our students here. During the winter months, last year there were a couple days when the
busses couldn‟t make it to our school, so there were two snow days. Majority are from Diamond
Valley, but there . . . from these communities further out. A lot of them drive into St. George to
work. Tiger Woods has a house in The Ledges.

So we use our grade level PE time to do our PLCs, and then we get to do Friday morning as
professional development. And I get to choose, it‟s my prerogative – I get to choose which
direction I want to take. And I just, at the beginning of the year I ask, “Kelley, what‟s your
vision, what should our focus be? What does the data tell us that we need to focus on?” And we
looked at the data, and our science and writing scores were a little low. Writing was a district
push anyway, so it made sense to go along with writing. Last year it was content area literacy –
we did curriculum maps the last two years, and we‟ve mapped out entire curriculum and laced it
with literacy throughout the content areas – so we were big into the curriculum maps, and did
some writing, a lot of that. And this year I‟ve taken from that and just kept going with the
writing, and tried to make a little more intensive. My emphasis is reading, I‟m reading recovery
certified, and that‟s kind of been my push through last year we did a little with guided reading
and running records and how important writing records are. We went through the whole
rigmarole of running records and I still have teachers who won't do them. It's not mandated that
we running records but I can just see the power behind analyzing a running record and how far
you can go with that short little informal observational assessment and so to me it's huge. The
lower grade do it but what I push to the upper grades is even if you don't do a running records on
all your cares the least do it on your lower end kids every week.

Do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?



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Absolutely. We‟ve got some groups that work together congenially and have a shared vision,
shared goals, and then you have some that get together, and it's the only time they talk to each
other. And then we have another group that plans together constantly and then when we get
together for PLC meetings they don't know what to do, to analyze and reflect, instead of plan
what they're going to do next. So there's definitely a range in the PLCs. If you're just starting out
first of all I would highly suggest that they do their scheduling like we have, build it and so that
there is no excuses, they couldn't get here in the morning, they cant stay after school because
they have sports, build it into the day somehow that's number one. Number two, I would
probably give them some sort of training before I asked them to implement it and I would
probably do it, if I could, with an outside source so that it didn't look like a directive... like a
principal coming in and saying, I have this great idea and this is how we are going to do it.
Instead say, this is a good idea and we have people coming in to show you. Or maybe even send
them to the Dufour's or even if they just had someone come in a few times and just model it and
show them the data and why it's effective so that there‟s some buy in them so that the agenda, the
process of the PLC, is correct from the beginning so you're not trying to fix bad habits after they
formed themselves. I think it's critical that the principal and the staff director the at every PLC
because they become a sounding board, they‟re objective to the students, meaning that they are
not so involved with a student that they are emotionally involved, that they can't see beyond that
kids characteristics




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1st Grade School #1



Could you begin by getting beat up brief overview of your professional educational
background?

I started teaching in 1987 and I taught first grade that same school in first grade for four years
and then my husband and I moved to Idaho and I taught Kindergarden and then I had my first
daughter and I went to part-time. Then we moved again and I took some time off and I stayed
home full-time as a mom and then when my youngest went into this first grade I went back to
school part time again for three years. Then we moved again to here at that‟s when I came back
full time, this is my fifth year back full-time. It's about 15 years total but about half of them were
part-time, which is great, it worked out really well for me.



Given your role as classroom teacher what experiences have prepared you for this
position?

I think probably the fact that I've been in different schools has really given me a good
understanding of the culture of different schools and the culture of different teams and the way
that teams have worked together has varied and I think that helped a lot.



How would you describe the culture of this school?

Our school is very professional. Almost everyone is working on an endorsement or a degree
everyone is very dedicated to learning themselves as well as having the students, like we are on
task, that culture is that we do what we are supposed to be doing. Everyone is very friendly and
helpful with each other, like April is going to be moving so we all said we're going to help, so
there is that feeling. The culture here in this community is very conservative and parents are very
interested and involved and want to know what's going on and making sure that it's going as they
want, you know, as they perceive that it should be. It's wonderful as far as my class, everyone
does their homework, everybody brings back their stuff, every parent came to parent teacher
conferences and I have 16 families.



What role do you principals play in designing cultures of improved change?

Kelly, our principal, will generally introduce things through our staff developer but he'll be very
supportive of it and he'll do learning walks to see how it's been implemented and he'll discuss it
in our PLCs because he comes to our PLCs to see if they are being implemented. Most of our

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staff development comes through Shauna; he did do one from his principles training that he just
had so he did go ahead and training us on that and so he has done some generally it's through
Shauna.



Can you explain what makes your school a professional learning community?

Well, we are very as you look at this school can see the graphs in the goals posted and the fact
that Kelly has worked the scheduled so that we can have that time of the three of us working
together while the kids are at PE rather than doing it before school or after school this I think it's
a very unique, there's not a lot of schools that do it that way and so you can see that there is a
professional learning community there. Even as we interact in the lunchroom or whatever there's
just a feeling that what can I do with this child and everyone is willing to throw in ideas, what
can I do about this particular curriculum, how can I teach this better, just as you're talking in the
lunchroom so it's not just our PLCs, there's very much a feeling that everyone contributes. But in
our PLCs, I think ours have been really successful because all three of us have a little bit of a
different background at the same... April came from second back to first, and I came from
kindergarten up to first and Tanya‟s done first for like 15 years and so I can say this is where
we're coming from kindergarten, April consensuses were coming from in second grade and then
we also have the differences in our endorsements, April and Tanya had their reading
endorsements but I have my ESL and my gifted and so we can each contribute different things to
it so it's really nice that way.



What factors of the infrastructure of this school influence their schools PLC?

I think, like I said, Kelly, the principal, set aside that time for our PLCs. We have the training
and then we had the chance to use it and we saw the advantages, and for me that's kind of what
the shift came, after which haven't tested it a little bit, so I appreciate that it was set up like that's
what gave us a chance to test it than to try it out. And we have our binders, and their binders are
really good I guess those are kind of infrastructures, things like, this is what your agenda should
be, here is your papers to feel out your interventions, and this is what fill out at the end of the
intervention, it helped us get started this, now we could do without the binders, but the binders
were really helpful in getting us going letting us know this is what it's supposed to feel like and
be like, so that was really helpful. We started doing the binders last year or actually, the end of
2007. We had already been doing it, and working on it for a couple of years, but the binders, at
least for me, because I'm kind of a structured type person, so I liked the data structure; its
altogether because that could be a big thing, who took that paper, or was that paper, and the fact
that we know this person is in charge of this, and this person is in charge of this, it makes it a lot
easier.


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Do group dynamics influence the process and how are they managed?

Truly, we get along really, really well. Before it was April, and Tonya and I, there was a
different member of the team who was a little more interested in projecting herself. So it did, it
played into it. I kind of felt like some of the decisions we are making, she wasn't always thinking
about what the best decision would be for the group she was thinking about what looks good for
her. And that was difficult. We just kind of had to really work on it, I don't know that there was
any specific thing. I guess I had to be understanding and say okay, that's just how she is and not
let that bother me because I'm a real, oh, I'll share anything whenever you want, and hers was
just like, this was hers, this is mine, and I want it this. You know. That year Tonya was the team
leader and I don't know if she said anything to her or not but it got better as time went on and she
started seeing that it works better if we all work together rather than keeping it all to herself. I
think just the experience of seeing the synergy happen and, look how much more we can
accomplish when we work together.

How would you this characterize your role in supporting PLCs?

Well, you need to be prepared when it's your time to be there, you need to be a team player,
you'd need to be on task while you're there, again, a very structured so these are the things that
come up to me. While you're there, making sure they don't get side tracked off onto this little
field trip or some other thing. I think my role is bringing what I have to it so that I can share my
background and I can benefit from their background. I think your attitude about it makes a huge
difference and if you come in with the attitude that, this is helpful, this is great for my children,
this and you come in with that attitude if there are some that are reluctant hopefully your attitude
to improve. Like I said, on our team were all really committed to it and it works really well but I
can see if you‟re on a team with someone who isn't, their attitude would make a huge difference.

Do you believe that your school utilizes PLCs effectively?

I think so. Like I said, I think there are some great levels more than others. And I think that Kelly
our principal, and Shauna too, our staff developer, are both doing all they can for those that are
struggling, but I think most of the great levels are very effective in PLCs. I like the fact that the
administrators were in our PLC meetings at the beginning when we started the process we
needed to learn how to do it. I don't think our grade level needs to have them at every meeting
anymore, we would still be on task either way. We have so many meetings and in part it's
because the state has given us money and we have to spend a certain amount of hours doing it
and Kelly, our principal, is very much, to the minute. If we have 39 hours and 30 minutes and
they said 40, we're going to have another meeting for 30 minutes. You actually need to sign in
for each of the meetings and after more than 10 minutes late you don't get credit for the time. It's
like, I'm a professional, I'll get things done, but I'm really glad that they trained us on what to do
and I feel like we do know what to do now and I don't feel like we need to be watched over as

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much now as he, our principal, does like we need to be. Like I said, but we were just learning
how to use the process it was very helpful to have him here but I like to see a little bit of the
release of responsibility. With some of the great levels that are struggling with this, they still
need it, and I totally get that, we didn't need it in the beginning, but a little bit of trust and
professionalism at this point, it's just what it feels like, I think he really does, and he'll tell us, you
guys are just the best, every time we go to the district they tell us we are supposed to be doing
this, and you guys are all doing that, and you guys are wonderful, he is just very letter of the law.



How would you describe the relationship between professional learning communities and
their schools adaptability to change?

What we really like to spend our time with is answering things like, what do we do with this
child? Okay, our goal for this year is, content area, and having pretested post tests for content
areas so thats when we talk about that, and it's really helped with that because in the past every
school I've been in, we've always met together in a grade level but it was usually more about this
cute page that were going to be doing, this or that, but this truly is the first school where it's
about the child and improving the teaching, so it's been very good. One of the things that's hard
is that we have our PLC time, and they have there‟s, we used to have it in the morning all the
same time sometimes we would have cross grade meetings and that was one advantage because
we could do more things together. One way maybe we could fix that is in our staff meetings if
we spent some time working together, or if they can in and observed, somebody covers their
class for I don‟t know, a half an hour or whatever, to come and see what we do in ours. It's true,
you don't see what they're doing until afterwards.



Describe the ways in which you think leadership can have an effect in supporting successful
PLC‟s?

It's fun to have Shauna and it goes for us in the lower grades she has this understanding of the
lower grades and the things that we have coming in that's fun for us because it's the first time
we've had anyone without that background. So that's really fun for us but I'm sure she's also
effective with the older grades to the kids who are struggling. I feel like our PLCs are going
really well for doing what we need to, I don't have a lot of complaints about our time, I think it's
really well spent. For me, the biggest thing is when I understood the difference between meeting
together to talk about curriculum which is important and needs to be done and meeting together
in PLCs to talk about kids. That was really clicked for me, to see the difference for me, and we
do meet together to talk about curriculum on our own on Fridays, and they did set that up for us
so that Friday after school is supposed to be grade level meetings and curriculum. And PLC is
supposed to be kid centered and results centered. We didn't pick Friday it was picked for us part
of its is because you're supposed to be here this long as part of contract hours and we know you'll

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stay this long if you have a meeting. It's a way for them to come and see how the meetings are
going and so they knew if we were all going to be here at this time... and I think another vital
thing has been our posting our goals and having that accountability that the parents know, okay
this is what you're working on, this is what it needs to be done and we do it to them saying okay,
we're not going to get it done by then, we'll move it back, it's not set in stone but it's good just to
know, okay, this is what working on everybody knows it so that parents can help. I send it home
in my note home and say hey this is our goal for this month, were working on paragraphs, so the
parents know that‟s what we‟re working on. So that's very helpful I think to have it posted to
help them see the pre test and the post tests. When I was a parent teacher conferences recently I
was showing them the pre-test of the post tests and there's no doubt what their children have
learned, A., and B., where it is that they still need some help? And you could show them, this is
the interventions that were doing, to me it just feels really good because I know where your child
came from, where they are, do what we need to do next. I‟ve really liked that, for me, it's very
structured, and I like that. And I think for people who aren't structured, they may resist it, but I
think it's really good for them to see the structure, so I would say, in the beginning, give them the
structure, the help, what they need, and then pull back, release the responsibility and let them
take over. Releasing their responsibility is as important because they need to do to do it and I
think once they see the benefits, at least that's how it was with us; once we saw all the benefits it
was like, okay, now that we see the benefits will do it, because it helps. We keep track of all of
our interventions in our binder which is in April's room, she's our team leader this year. It tells us
who is having interventions, who's teaching the interventions, and for how long, and then at the
end of the intervention it shows how many students are now proficient with whatever concept
was being taught. And generally our interventions have been a math, but our smart goals have
been in writing, that's what we have posted out here that are writing we haven't done specific
interventions yet, but we will have time goes on.



How has your role changed since the beginning of PLCs?

Back in 2006 when we first started, again, I thought, okay, we're already meeting together... and
when we first started PLCs they felt a bit like pre-tests and post tests to me because we didn't
have any interventions at that point. And so, I could see it a little bit, but I wasn't really using it
in my classroom and I think that's probably the biggest change. Now, as we've gone on and
worked on it, I can see how I'm using it in my classroom, how were actually having the
interventions. Like at the beginning we didn't have the time to talk about so and so and so, but
now we have that time were we could talk about, okay this child needs help with this, how can
we help him. In 2006 PLCs were more of an abstract thing, I did back during PLC time and it
didn't affect my classroom, and now I see it's totally integrated with what I do in the classroom.
Last year I had a friend who was teaching in another school in the district in first grade and she
came from an upper grade to first grade and was totally nervous about it and her team was like
five other teachers and she went to them and said, okay, when‟s our PLC and they said oh, we
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meet at this time in the morning, bring treats, and then they just talked about curriculum and she
asked, where do we have a curriculum map for our school, that was before this year when the
district created a curriculum, and the teacher said, oh I do this and this and this and another one
said oh I do it this order another one... so she was just like I totally don't know what to do so I
gave her our curriculum map and said of course you don't have to follow it but here‟s one to
follow if you want to. They just seem to be back where I was 2006, I just don't think they have
the training or the understanding of the difference between what a PLC is and what meeting
together as a grade level is. We actually went for training this summer, we actually presented,
and they asked us questions, and that was one of the main things that we told them, that it takes a
lot of time to have a separate meeting for curriculum and a separate meeting for PLCs, but it's
worth it because the outcome is so much larger than just the synergy of I've got this idea and
April can build on it, and then Tonya can build on it and between all three of us we've got
something wonderful. Which goes back to what we said was that one person who thinks, oh this
is my stuff, I think that that‟s a huge obstacle. The training we received usually came in our
weekly staff meetings.



Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Probably the only other thing I would say is that it does have to be a team level thing it can't be
I'm thinking of what we did for our interventions, it worked for us, and I go for the PLC
meetings that were having for our gifted students, and the interventions are different, and that's
okay because it works for them and I think sometime people will say, oh, these guys are the best,
so you have to do it their way and fans they feel, the other people feel put down like oh I have to
do it their way and I think that's probably one of the things that we struggled with this year
because all the things we do for our curriculum maps, we did them for ourselves and then when
the district came and said all first graders have to follow the same curriculum itself like they
were looking down on us, and we just thought we'd do it for you, we did it for us. So that's,
hopefully that one of the things that I wish we could say, we have a small school with three
teachers and this is what worked for us as us three teachers that you have your own school, your
own culture, do it the way that works for you as long as it effective in working for you. That
would be my biggest thing to go back to, don't enforce all things, just because it's working on
school work or other schools, changes like that really do need to come from the PLC.




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2nd Grade School #1

Did you begin by giving me an overview of your professional educational background?

This is my second year teaching and I did an apprenticeship for a year before so I‟ve been here
for three years. To me just thinking back to when I went to elementary school, maybe you don't
catch on because you're younger, and you don't really pick up on those things, but I don't ever
remember being that stressed out but now there are so many things that you do, chunk everything
and pack every day full and sometimes they're worn out and the restless, and they're stressed
because there's so much testing, and I don't remember that. I remember spelling test and that kind
of stuff that seems a lot more stressful now. I graduated from Dixie State College. I did one year
up at Salt Lake community college and then I came down here and finished up at Dixie and the
elementary education program here the one thing I really liked about the program was the
apprenticeship I did it the year-long apprenticeship your senior year. And so for my practicum
and nystudent teaching I came up here half a day all year long and I was with April Mundt, she
teaches first grade, so I was able to come and see how the first half of the day, and we also had
practicums so I was here Monday through Friday, the first half of the day and I think Wednesday
or Thursday I was here the entire day. And that was all year long while I was still taking my
classes and so when student teaching came along it was awesome because I redeem you
everything there was to know about the students, their little works, the things I struggle in so it
was really easy for me to take over which I really liked and I don't know how many schools have
that type of a program. So that was really helpful to me even the other girls in my class who
didn't do it, so they weren't in the classroom, and then them 13 weeks of teaching and they didn't
know anything about the kids, background or anything and they really struggled with it. So that's
one thing I really did like the Dixie. I was also able to get used to this school and the teachers so
it was really helpful to me.

Given your role as classroom teacher what experiences have helped prepare you for this
position?

When I was in elementary school even throughout high school there were certain teachers who
just didn't do much for me and I'm sure maybe there are even kids of my own room but don't get
what they need although I hope I'm offering that to them but my second grade teacher, and I
don't know why some hidden thing why I love second-grade but I remember my second grade
teacher just been horrible. She mean to us, I remember crying, and not so much because I didn't
want to go, but she was just not very nice, kind of rough around the edges, and so second-grade
was really hard for me. And as I went to junior high and high school actually I had a lot of
teachers, and I don't know what it was, if it was just the people I was hanging out with or what, I
just kind of had that disconnect from school and I started missing a lot of days and that was kind
of struggling with my grades and I didn't feel any connection, but the teacher saying, Audrey,
you are lacking, we really need to kick this into gear, towards the end of much in your year and
so by that time I had missed enough credits that I wasn't going to be able to graduate. So I

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actually ended up dropping out of high school my senior year and then I got a full-time job at the
age of 17 and I did that for about a year and I what the heck am I doing with my life because it
would be so easy to just follow the track, I was working at the mall. And so I said this is a joke,
this isn't what I want to do, and I had always had an interest in children and in teaching when I
was younger, so I started taking night classes at the high school in the area and I took my GED
and I walked two years after I should've graduated. And after that it was like if I can do this I
might as well keep going so two months after that I started at Salt Lake community college. I
knew what I wanted to do straight into the elementary program in four years later I was done. So
I think that was my motivation, since I never really felt connected to any of my teachers I think I
feel like I need to provide that for my students.

How would you describe the culture of the school?

Well when I very first came for my internship since it's a smaller school than most in St. George
it was very, everyone was connected. I noticed when I did my internship, and I am kind of a
loudmouth, out going person anyways so I feel the need to introduce myself to people, but even
with that everyone was very welcoming and within a couple weeks I felt like I was part of the
staff even though I was only doing the internship. So very welcoming very close, I feel really
close to the people here more so than any other job I've worked at. And I guess maybe it's
because of the small setting, I've been to other schools and am practicums that they may not even
know who teaches first grade, because there's five fifth-grade teachers and five first grade
teachers, but with such a small school everyone knows everybody and they know what they
teach and I think it's kind of like our own little family up here. As far as working together with
the grade level teams I think that goes really well for the most part. It's nice, especially with me
being the new teacher, I can remember the first day I came in I said, what am I going to do? I
was freaking out. I felt like saying you're actually going to leave me alone in here without
someone watching me? Because I was so used to being observed throughout college and April
being my mentor teacher, but no these are your kids. It's nice because anytime I have a question
or concern or what the heck do I do I can go to anyone in this school, that's what I like, I don't
just have to go next door to second-grade. First grade, or fourth grade, I can go to anyone and ask
them how would you go about this, or how can I handle that, and anyone is willing to help me,
it's really nice as far as Shawna, our staff developer, I wanted to come up with something for my
writer's workshop because I felt pretty good with it but there was something lacking, they are
something that I need to do more, always had a lot of kids that we get down a lot faster than the
others, so I was telling Shawna I need to go see someone, and you can see that basically as much
as you want to, since I am an eye teacher, I'm in my first three years, so we went down and I saw
a class and it was perfect, I had all of my questions answered. So it's just nice to know if I need
help with anything I don't feel alone, I can go ask anyone, and I can get help.

What role do you think principals play in designing self-sustaining cultures of improved
change?


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In our PLCs, Kelly, our principal, comes in, so does Shawna, our staff developer, Kelly has been
going to be these literacy trainings and he'll come back and give us ideas they‟ve suggested and I
have noticed what he does is he'll give it to us and say here's a suggestion, you don't necessarily
need to do it right now, but it might be able to help the. And so it's kind of nice, it's already
incredibly intense during these first couple of years and to constantly have someone, oh try this,
try this, because I remember last year it was the right source, a new writing program, and they
said tried this, try this, and I was feeling really overwhelmed, and about midyear last year I had
my first meltdown and I was just, I can't do this. For the most part I felt pretty good that if Kelly
our principal has a suggestion he'll tell me, he doesn't say you have to do this! I've never felt like
I've had to do something. For the most part, they'll say, okay, were working on writing, and to
make suggestions and I wonder sometimes okay, am I supposed to do these, am I not, and I
personally choose to weed some of them out. I say, okay I'm working on writing this year, and
I'm trying to perfect that, and some of them, I probably shouldn't say this, but I just choose to
ignore because, me personally as a teacher, I just can't do all of that stuff. It's never, you have to
do this stuff or you're going to get docked or anything like that. They are mostly suggestions and
so I said okay that one fits what I'm working on this year so deftly tried the suggestion. The most
part I try to be compliant, but the days are short, give a lot of stuff this stuff in, and you still want
to show the kids a good time. Some things I just say, okay, maybe will try that next year. The
suggestions come from both Kelly our principal and Shawna staff developer. A lot of it is also
passed down from the district. We want you to try this.

Can you explain what makes your school a PLC?

Well I think definitely we have them on a weekly basis. Just talking to Kelly, our principal, in
our early morning meetings he said a lot as schools just don't have them. They have the time for
them, the slots, but they choose to do their own prep or they just don't meet with their team
members. And I don't know how it is in junior high or high school as how there's work. But with
ours, in second grade, ours is every Tuesday at 1245 and we have to be here. We have
assessments and goals that we set that we put in our binder. So we'll have the goals that we set
for that week. So this is our school section of the binder. This is the goal we set, the date when its
due by so we know okay this next PLC to me to have my rock stories, the grading rubric, and we
are going to grade them during PLC. Or they have to be graded by PLC and then we're going to
discuss them, where were going to place students for intervention after that. So I guess just the
fact that it's mandatory that you can't just get out of it here. Kelly our principal and Shawna our
staff developer are very there's never one where they've just said, ah, let‟s not do it today. They
always both come unless one or the other is at a meeting. There is only one other teacher in
second grade. Her name is Trisha, but they are here, and we are here, and you just know that you
have to do it. But it is beneficial. It gives you the time to stop and reflect on the work that you've
done. Okay, wow, this kid is really low compared to other second graders, and we've done this a
lot whether it's math or whatever the lesson is and I've noticed Trish‟s kids may have gotten it
really well but some of my kids may have struggled so forth interventions, Trisha why don't you

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teach it because maybe they're something that you did differently than I did. So will alternate
interventions, who will teach it is typically based on how the kids scored or sometimes based on
who really wants to do it like I love the social studies so… and that's nice. We do have our early
morning meetings every Friday and you see a couple of those. There's a lot of information, and a
lot of work that we're doing but it is nice because just like the assignment were doing today we
get to make that a book, and make a map of the different content areas that we are doing, and
those are going to be posted in the hall and obviously we should know what were doing so it's
not really for us. Last year we had a web that had all the different content areas so I guess this is
just Shawna's way of doing it differently this year. Sometimes I do feel like the early morning
meetings are just, blah, and I'm sure part of it is just because it's early, and I'm not a morning
person by any means but it's kind of, you know, it would be nice, one time, this day, okay come
in today at 730 and work on something you need to work on. I think that would be fabulous
because I have tons of things to do, reorganizing my files, getting copies made, something like
that. Because at the end of the day you know, you've taught before, you're exhausted or there's
things you need to do, and my preps are only half an hour long and you barely get to go the
bathroom and grab a drink or something and the kids are back. I notice that I come in a lot on the
weekends and I don't think it's just because I am new. A lot of us come in. And maybe it's
because were overachievers, we really want everything to be in place, but there are a lot of us
and it's kind of the hang out on Saturday or Sundays. A lot of our early morning PLC meetings at
the beginning of the year were on guided reading and I guess the lower grades are just more into
that because the younger kids can't read as well and so there was a lot of that and to me I kind of
felt like I learned it in college, my internship, it was guided reading, guided reading, guided
reading. When I was doing my internship that's what I did when I was here those half days was
to go to all the first grade classes and second grade classes and I would have guided reading
groups so to me I know that it, I'm fairly good at it, one of the things I feel very comfortable with
is guided reading, and so to go and attend these meetings in the morning and discuss okay, this is
how you do a running record, I mean, I can do a running record with my eyes closed. And this is
probably how my gifted students feel, and taking a gifted class right now, irony know-how to do
this, you're boring me to death, and what we're trying to do is compacting the curriculum and
offering them something else. And I know that they're not going to give the teachers quiz to see
if we can test out, but just something like that. Shawna even asked me to demonstrate a guided
reading lesson for the faculty so if I'm comfortable with it and I'm doing fine I would like to have
done something else rather than to just sit and practice. So that kind of stuff I sometimes wonder
about, and I guess it just depends on what they think staff needs personally as a focus but as far
as the PLCs I think they are effective. It's nice to reflect on the work and feel so good when you
enter grade level team member have set a goal and to make it and it's awesome. And it's actually
a time for my teammate and I where we can sit down and talk about something we need to work
on, something that's coming up that we need to plan, or just look at the grades and say, you know
what, were doing an awesome job because, you know, I don't think teachers hear it enough, if
you are doing amazing, what you do is fabulous. So it's a time when we can talk to each other


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about concerns or anything. So these type of PLC meetings I don't mind, but the early-morning
meeting sometimes, you know, are tough for me, but that's just me.

Are there ways that you can communicate with your administrator on topics you would
like more information on?

Like that writing things talked about before. I would love to go and observe to do writing, that is
something that would benefit me, but would that benefit the whole staff, they may feel about
writing how I feel about running records. And I guess that's kind of where you have to take into
consideration what is something that will benefit everyone what is something that they can learn
that they don't all already know? No one wants to sit, because they seem more like classes to be
me than meetings. Once a month Kelly goes to his principal meetings and comes back and tells
us about things that are going to district, but the other morning meetings it's usually more of a
lesson so I don't really know as a staff developer how Shauna decides what we're going to talk
about in those early morning meetings. Maybe other people have gone to her and said you know,
I need to get on this running record thing. She goes to staff development meetings all the time
and I'm sure they say, OK, you need to discuss these things with them, the big push is writing, I
don't know where she gets all her information from. I'm not staff developer, I just go because I'm
supposed to and I just basically do whatever they tell me to do that day. I don't really know how
much feedback or how much the next meeting could be based on what we want to learn. Until
someone really asks you, I guess, what do you really get out of it and what do you think about it
I mean you kind of think about it but not at the same time. So this is helpful to me so maybe now
I can say can I give you suggestions on things to work on in the morning meeting. It's ironic
because we're constantly being told diamond Valley is amazing, you're awesome, your PLCs are
amazing everyone wants to come and see your PLCs everyone wants to come see your mapping,
and you're graphing in the hall. But if we are this amazing why do we keep making charts of
what we need to do to be amazing? And I guess you have to come up with something to do with
us in the morning. I haven't been teaching long enough to be stuck in a rat, I'm doing how I
started out so far, but yeah, those duhs, ah, you do it that way, why didn't I think about that? And
that's what it's nice to have those team PLCs, and we do do that in our early morning meetings
too. Like last week, we've been doing a lot of stuff with writing and content areas, so Shauna
wanted to know different ideas other than just having the students write a paper, other ways we
can teach writing in the content, and what we do in second grade is that we make a foldable for
rocks and whether and it's not just write down what she knew about rocks. And so each teacher
had to pick a topic that they either just done are working on currently and bring that writing
sample in. And that was really nice because we displayed them all out on tables and we got to
walk around with a little sheet giving feedback. So that was something that was very beneficial
to me. So people probably get in the right and just do a foldable for everything for example it
was so nice to see, you know, I don't have time to go down to fourth grade to see what they're
doing, because I'm working in my own classroom, and then Shauna made a copy of all the
examples and now we have a little graphic organizer thing for writing, and you can pull it out for

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anything you could even do things in math with half of those things. It was nice to get ideas that
I wouldn't have got it, everyone is already doing different things so why not just show each other

do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how and I think kind of keeping her on
track are they managed?

What I've been doing is after PLCs will set a goal and I will type them up, I'll post them, and I've
kind of been keeping her on track. She's fairly new, this is her third year, and this is her second
year, and last year we had another teacher who had been teaching for like 10 years or so she was
kind of in charge showing us what to do, but since it's down to two it's kind of up to us to run the
show it's kind of hard in second grade with only two teachers. Especially with this cluster
grouping that were trying to do because if I had kids that make I would like to be able to send
them to my teammates class because she is the designated gifted teacher and say is it okay if
some of my kids joined in on some of your math activities or extension activities? But it's not
really happening in that way unfortunately. Apparently this is what's happening in other grade
levels, this exchanging of kids based on academic levels, first grade definitely but they were also
doing it last year so it's to be expected that kids are basically divided into three groups for
students who are receiving extensions because they've tested out of the subject, the students are
receiving interventions because there still struggling with the concept and students in the middle
who basically can go to the computer lab or the like and work on a project. But it's hard to do
this type of program with only two teachers. One of the things that I struggle with the most is my
team member is high stress, very high stress, and she has a lot of personal things going on in her
life right now. So one day she's perfectly fine with you in the next day she's not so that in that
itself affects whether I want to send kids over into her classroom or not. She's just really hard to
get along with, and I'm not saying that I'm the perfect person, but I'm definitely a team player. I
want to know what your doing in your class to see if I can apply it to mine, I want to give you
ideas that I think are awesome for you to try in yours. Last year we had the 3 second grade
teachers and myself and the other one got along really well we were on task in our PLC meetings
we had our goals done this, we had our assessments done and we needed to, our graphs up when
we needed to, and the other team mate kind of fell behind and so we were trying to keep her up
and it's kind of one of those personalities where, do you dare say anything? And so Ive been in
second grade ever since I've been here so I've kind of figured out her moods, that days to back
off, that days it's okay to say things, but trying to plan and get together with her, because we're
supposed to plan every Friday, and most of the time she just can't do it. I'm only a second year
teacher and I really like someone to bounce ideas off of so it's been really difficult. So losing that
other teacher this year was hard because I don't have that companionship anymore. Now that it's
only the two of us I don't think we've met more than twice this year. During our formal PLC
meetings it's okay, there's the assessment we did, our scoring, but even then I come with mine
scored because it's in our book and she won't have hers done. So it's like, okay, we can't move on
with a new goal yet, because were waiting on that. It's just really tricky to plan and get on the
same page... if you were to come in to my classroom and watch a lesson I guarantee it's

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completely different. And that's fine to a certain extent, you want to have your own atmosphere
and your own personality in your class, but like with writing, he shouldn't just be writing about
whatever you feel like because he didn't feel like doing a lesson, or centers, or stuff like that,
there's just no cohesiveness. I would love to plan with her, I would love to get ideas, I would like
it to be somewhat on the same page not exactly, because I don't want to do everything she's
doing but the flow basically everyone is getting the same experience in second grade. And just
the mood swings, if it's a bad day I feel like I can't even approach her. So basically this whole
year I've just felt like it was me. I know were both teaching second grade and I know that they're
working with atlases and continents over there but I honestly have no idea what she is doing. I
mentioned these challenges to the staff developer last year. I know that our principal and our
staff developer edition or know there's a problem but it seems like no one wants to approach the
situation. Which is hard for me because even though I know she's bipolar because she's told me,
and maybe the administration can't say anything to her because of that, so it's been really tough
for me. If something isn't done or turned in nothing is ever said to her, at least to my knowledge,
and me I'm always scared to death to say, you are not doing what you need to do so see you later
next year this. So I'm just very concerned about that. I want to do the best that I can while I'm
here so it's an effective classroom for the kids. So I'm learning how to assess them, and benefit
them from those assessments, and that's what I need to be doing. And it's kind of just a hush-
hush thing throughout the school, everyone know she has her days even Shawna, our staff
developer, has told me, you're extremely patient and she doesn't think she could be matched up
with anyone else.

How would you describe the relationship between PLCs and your schools adaptability to
change?

Most of the time it depends on the day. Usually I'm generating the conversation. Shauna, the
staff developer and I and even Kelly and I. But lots of times she's just really really quiet, but it
just depends on the day. If she feels like talking as shall give an input if she's pissed off she'll just
sit there and the rest of us are kind of like okay. And we usually take turns recording and at this
point I've just taken over and I just keep the book in my room. And in PLC meetings I'll just get
it out and just start jotting down, okay, let's do a goal, let's get going. I'll ask her, okay what do
you want to do, oh, I don't know, it's like pulling teeth so I ask for Shauna to give me feedback,
what do you think would be helpful to reach this goal? So as far as that, it depends on the day. I
enjoy PLC meetings because it's a time to stop and just reflect. You go go go, you're doing this
test, you're giving that, you're trying this new thing, and you may not even be thinking about it.
You just kind of do it because that's what you need to do this. But it gives me that time to say,
that didn't really work so well, scratch that off the list. Or if that was awesome, I'm so excited. I
can't wait to try it again or try and new addition to it. And sometimes my teammate is on and
she'll be in on it, but yes I've definitely had a chance to stop and reflect and decide if whether
what I'm doing and what I'm trying to change is effective or not. And then I can stop what I'm
doing but don't think it's working or continue what I'm doing. What is the reason I think our

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school is doing so well with PLCs because it's so small go to a school that has a 5 second grade
classrooms and a lot more to it, but I guess if it's all the same grade level whether its two or five
you'd all be meeting at the same time that the more things going on in the more classroom I just
might make it more difficult, I don't really know.

How can leadership have an effect on supporting effective PLCs?

I think that just having them come and showing us that they want us to this do good to make
goals and see our progress. Anytime the kids, even for math the goals that we do, the grass that
we put up from the pre-and post tests, when were going over the results and we just freak out
together, oh my gosh, that's so good, I can't believe you did that, way to go. And that effective
for me because my administration is actually excited that we met our goal. They are proud of
what's going on in my classroom. And like I said our staff developer and I have a pretty good
relationship, and it's nice to know that I do have some that I could talk to and go over the goals
were the scorers are what we need to work on and our PLCs are usually very positive. I know
other people I talk to and they hate them, they'd rather do whatever they go to that because it's
not as positive, it's probably just the dynamics of the group, the people, but I'm a fairly laid back
person and I'm fine with most things. But Little Miss puts a damper on things but as far as me
I'm like yeah, let's get going, let's find out what's going on, let's get those scores... it's just nice to
know that they are concerned. I know that their over all of us and they have to make sure that
were doing well were supposed to be doing anyways but the fact that I get to sit down with them
and tell them my concern once a week is fabulous. It's really good.

From your experiences what are the obstacles to creating and sustaining effective
professional learning communities?

An obstacle would definitely be having someone that doesn't want to meet with you, but it's
required, thank goodness, because it kind of forces her to open up and work with me because she
will meet with me and any other time. So that's nice and you just kind of have to work with it.
There's nothing I can do. She is that she is, but it is nice because it is scheduled, you have to be
here. And in the morning loop all have to be here so we get that time to reflect and work
together. So there's always going to be obstacles I think, whether or not you agree on something,
or how you should do it, whether you want to do it, but that's when you kind of have to break
down and your own classroom, I'm going to tweak it this way, you're going to tweak that way,
but were in the same general area on it. So, you know, like I said, last year I really enjoyed PLCs
because I had that third person to help and kind of looked, and think awesome, we are doing the
same thing, were making progress, second grade is doing good. But it is kind of depressing to
come sometimes, but I just try to ignore it, and to set goals, and do what I need to do.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I definitely think they benefit the teams because when things are going good it makes me want to
work harder. It makes me want to step up and say we're doing awesome, we‟re on it together, we

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are both where we need to be as far as content and were getting our math notes home, we getting
everything taken care of, it makes me feel better about what I do during the day and knowing
that I have someone to turn to and reflect upon with. Even if I just need to go there and vent and
say today was the worst day this that it's helpful to me. You need that. I could get to a fourth-
grade teacher but they may not have any idea because in the fourth grade its not about forgetting
to put your punctuation, so it's nice as far as that. Someone who is doing the same thing as you
day in and day out and on the same level to get feedback parts or vent or just reflect upon what
you're doing and have that companionship it's beneficial, like last year it was great for me. I
definitely think if anyone is trying, try it out just meeting may be just after school because they
don't have time during the day, start meeting sporadically as you can with your team members,
and getting ideas, and then go from there because I think the idea of it is really good. You don't
want every classroom to the same because that would be boring some people are good at other
things, some people handle management better, and that's fine but just to kind of have a flow
across the board. You don't want some teachers just teaching packets of something and another
teacher really hands-on, so take your ideas and kind of miss them together and think about what
would be best for the children because at the end of the day the reason that we have to PLCs is to
provide information and feedback for the students about what we know and what we can do
better to help the kids, you know, that's what it's about. It's not about her having a bad day or me
doing whatever it is a fact that we can come together and feel comfortable discussing the
children and what we can do to make sure that their own grave and enjoying their school spirit so
it's really beneficial.




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3rd grade – School #1



Did you begin by giving me a brief overview of your professional educational experiences?

I have a BS in environmental sciences with a minor in economics. And then I went back to
school after my kids went to school, so I'm late in two education. But when my kids went and I
started substituting. We were in this rural, little town in Wisconsin, so it was about all I could do.
So I subbed, and loved it, so I decided to go back to school. And so I got another bachelors in
elementary Ed, and now I'm working on my Masters in elementary Ed, through Southern Utah
University.



Given your role as classroom teacher what experiences have helped prepare you for this
position?

Having kids, and being with them early on, as far as just real life experiences. I used to volunteer
in the classroom when they were really young, like kindergarten and first grade, an awful lot.
And I just really enjoyed it. I subbed for about five years before we moved here and I got to see a
lot of other teachers, our school in Wisconsin had a little over 1000 students and it was K.
through five so I got to really get to know the kids, and I got to know the teachers, and there
were a number of teachers that team taught, so I could actually observe them, and I think that
was probably one of the most helpful things because I could be there as a sub and watch
someone else, and that helped a lot.



How would you describe the culture of your school?

Just kind of, small-townish. We are a small school but it's also a pretty close knit community.
We have the two L DS wards, but everybody seems to know everybodys business. It's a small
town. If there is a schoolwide problem, parents know about it seems before it's gotten out the
door for the teachers to try to figure out the best way to handle it. Parents already know about it,
everybody knows and it's not always accurate information that gets out there, but it's like a wild
fire. When we first started talking about clustering, we had to have a community meeting just to
correct some of the mis- information that was out there. Parents were talking to other parents,
and, I think it makes it difficult. Being a small community school it's nice that the parents are
able to come in and volunteer. Nice that they're here, it's nice that they know so many of the kids,
it's nice that the kids know them. They don't know everybody, but a lot of them do know each
other. The downside is the adults know the kids as well. Again, misconceptions can be spread
around by parents who may not be aware of the whole situation. For example, at the end of the
school year when kids find out who's teachers class there in, sometimes the parents do not want

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their kids and with certain students and they are may or may not be some peace to it, you know
what I mean? So as soon as the kids go home they know who's in their class. You know, I don't
have a problem with it except some of those misconceptions I talked about, whether it be about a
teacher because they're going on the opinion of who told them, and they may or may not have the
right information. Maybe with a particular teacher they just didn't mix, so their impression is not
going to be that good. But somebody else with a teacher, had a good experience. Same with the
kids, so it can make it difficult and he could make it awkward and he could make tense than if
you were in a larger school that passing of information might not be as widespread. It's the good
thing, bad thing. I used to spend summers with my grandmother, and a tiny little community, and
where we were in Wisconsin was a tiny community, the good thing is everybody is watching,
you know, so you feel safe, and the bad thing is, everybody is watching. They are in your
business and they form opinions about things they really don't know anything about except for
where they are coming from and they're happy to pass that along. So it's just the whole small
community thing that can be good and bad at the same time. I'm not LDS so I'm not really part of
the community, I live here, but I feel very separate from the community. That's fine, but I feel
like I might look at it through different eyes, I'll put it that way.



Can you explain what makes your school of professional learning community?

Okay, this is only my third year teaching, so we don't have anything else to compare with, except
in Wisconsin where they didn't have them, so this is my only experience with PLCs. My
impression of them is how it works, we come together as a team, we talk about kids who are
having problems, how best to deal with those problems, we set goals, we see how progress is
being made towards those goals with the ultimate goal being the success of the kids in school. I
think we do that. I think it's been a process. My first year here, I believe was the first year we
started doing it. And I think I said very little because I was so new and I just really felt like I
didn't have anything of value to say. No, I won't say that, not that I didn't have anything of value
to say but, well, I still figuring out for me how I thought things would work well. And until I
kind of feel like I've come to an opinion on something it's not use the stuff I share. So my first
year here, I kept a lot of things to myself, and just kind of listened to other people, and processed
it internally, I didn't share a whole lot that first year. But the second year there were three of us
and I think there was some resistance that year for a couple of reasons. Some teachers not
wanting their prep time taken, and there was also some confusion about to ease this prep time is
a great, I can't use it as a prep time for me anymore but can we at least use it to talk about what
we're doing so were all the same page. I guess it's still morphing. Now we talk, but the focus is
on the kids as opposed to what we're going to be doing grade wise. And I fully expected to
continue to morph if we continue to get better.




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What factors of the infrastructure of this school influencer PLCs?

In the past, or the first two years, John was on my team and he has six years of teaching
experience so I deferred to him a lot, he was very comfortable having that leadership role. Jason
is more of a share, which is fine, because I'm beginning to gel some of my own opinions and
thoughts, he is willing, and I'm sure John would have to, but John was good for me at a point
when I needed someone else to take the reins. Jason is happy to share that leadership role at a
time when I'm more comfortable taking more of the reins. Kelly, the principal, and the staff
developer did a good job of scheduling things so it's easy for us, because it's just during PE.
That's worked out very well. I don't know if in a larger school it would work out that well. But it
seems to work here pretty well the way that they've done it. So the scheduling is good, the
makeup of the PLC I feel very comfortable with, it seems to be very conducive to what were
trying to do. Also, I think, as teachers we share a lot and we do have different opinions and I feel
perfectly comfortable going to the other teachers if I have trouble, or I want an opinion or I want
some ideas, but I also know we do seem to have a lot of variety on what people think about
PLCs. So that's why I qualified my statement, this is the only exposure I've had to PLCs, so I'm
coming from a very one-sided kind of warped perspective.



Do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?

The do make a difference. I've heard in some of the PLCs there's a good bit of tension. I know
that Jason my third grade team teacher was kind of sensitive over something that happened
during one of our PLCs but I think that's more reflective of kind of where his head is at right now
he just moved down from fifth to third so it's got a lot going on. So I think that was more a kind
of frustration there. The first year I really deferred to John team leader a lot and Kelly the
principal and Michelle for staff developer because I was such a newbie. Last year we had a
person, he had a hard time being serious, so we kind of laughed a lot, but I feel like we wasted a
lot of time. No one really managed his behavior. We have 45 minutes set aside and we usually
stay at about 46 to get everything done. And if we did more on and focus, we would've been able
to move onto something else. Once in a while our staff developer would say something, but no, it
just kind of... you have to say, okay, we're back to this now. Different people wore that hat, but it
wasn't consistently one person. And he managed to get off track again pretty easily. It was a nice
guy, but he just wanted to have fun. I'm not judging it one way or the other, but it was difficult to
get things done. So I think we just try to steer it in a benign sort of way, if there is such a thing.
Anyways...



How would you characterize your role in supporting PLCs?



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Probably the biggest way that I see in my part is I still feel like I am not too new for anyone to
learn from me. But I see my part as being open to other ideas and what other people are doing.
So that's probably the biggest thing I see, is me being open and willing to try new things. As a
PLC, if we're going to grow, we need to be open to those things, and that's how I think I can help
the most. I have a certain idea of where I want to see myself, of the kind of teacher I want to be,
and I'm not there yet. And maybe I'll never be there. As long as I continue to grow I am happy.
The upshot is that when I'm around people who have been teaching for a long time I just tend to
defer to their experience although I see myself becoming more opinionated, but I'm not
opinionated enough to really be out there yet. Like I said, as long as I'm open, and as long as I'm
growing, then I'll be okay with me.



How would you describe the relationship between PLCs and your school's adaptability to
change?

I think if it's something that the teachers feel is going to help the students than they are open to
that. I think resistance comes in they feel something is being forced on them that they've kind of
been through before and it didn't work the first time around, it's the same thing with the new
name of the hat not going to work so they might be resistant to that. But if it's something that
makes sense to them that I think they're going to go for it.



Keeping PLCs allow the individuals involved to solve problems for themselves?

I think maybe the parameters, the guidelines we work under, so that we are doing it correctly,
like, was that our first year, I think we did, and some of the second year, ended up being what
were doing as a grade. And we're slowly starting to become more student focused and I think
we're still moving in that way. This year seems to be largely student focused, last year and the
year before, maybe not so much. And at our PLCs as we talk about things, they bounce ideas off
each other. I feel like we just have more of a tight schedule, that we're going to look at her goals,
that we're going to look at how the kids are doing, this, this, this... I don't see a lot of
receptiveness that we look at it any other way. It's kind of assumed that will do it this way. We
can be flexible within that structure, but the structure seems to be pretty set and we need to
function within that structure. If we wanted to look at different ways to do them, but I don't know
that what we are doing needs to be revamped. I think as time goes on were becoming more and it
might be that we've decided that we've talked, and were kind of tightening things up and making
it more what it should be, which is fine. I just feel like we have a pretty, pretty good structure, or
a pretty strong structure. And that creativity that happens needs to happen in that structure.
Anyways... what kind of example with that might be that when Shauna, our staff developer,
came in, and it was just the two of us and the PLC meeting, and we were talking about the
clustering, and I know that Jason has high kids, and he has some resource kids, and the way it

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was set up because everybody bought into the idea that it would be better for the kids ultimately
is that the other teacher at the clustered teacher would have a gifted students and the other
teacher would have the resource kids. The gifted class wasn't supposed to have any of the high
achievers, and the other teacher wasn't supposed to have any of the gifted students, and I asked if
there was a problem with just redoing the class roster and giving me the other teachers resource
Kit, and I could give him a couple of my medium low students. I think the staff developer was,
like, well... we're not supposed to do that. But I thought, if we've bought into this idea that it's
better for the kids, what would be our hesitation to do it. But I think that's going to meet some
resistance along the way. It's probably not ideal to do it now midyear, but the way this whole
thing was put out there, the gifted students and the high achievers would not be put together to
give those high achievers a chance to shine, and then the resource kids, if they were all together,
along with the lowest achieving students, then it would be easier to take care of all those kids
together. That being said, then why weren't the resource kids automatically put into my class? I
mean, I know that a couple of them have become resource students, or classified as resource
student this year or they've moved in since the beginning of the year, but still, I just don't see the
problem from moving that kid from one room to another. I think they are more resilient, they
might not like to leave their friends or whatever, but they'll see each other at recess and the like.
The suggestion might perceive resistance because, “we don't do that in the middle of the year.”



Could you provide some examples of obstacles your school has faced and implementing
PLCs?

I think that begin with scheduling was awkward, but they've kind of fixed that. That the attitudes
have started to change to be where I think most of the teachers embrace the idea of PLC now
where it used to be something where, it's something else we have to do. And I think as it's
changed and as the teachers have really bought into, I think they're just more supportive of the
PLC in general, and however it might change, how the face of it might change, and make most of
the teachers here have genuinely bought into a PLC.



Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I can't think of anything.




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4th Grade (2 teachers) – School #1



Could you begin by giving you a brief overview of your professional, educational
background?

Shelly

I have a degree in education with a child development minor and I‟m working towards my gifted
and talented endorsement right now. I've been teaching for 13 years.

Darlene

I have my degree in elementary education with a specialty in early childhood and I have a
Masters degree in education and the gifted and talented endorsement and I think teaching about
19 years.

We've been here at Diamond Valley for about 12 years and we've been team teaching for about
three years.

Darlene is full-time. I do the gifted and talented and reading interventions in the afternoon. So
she's an art class from the morning, and then she's doing the interventions in the afternoon.

Patty, I'm part-time, I come up lunch time, and only teach the afternoon and by she's sick, and
then I teach the whole day.



Given your roles what experiences have prepared you for the classroom?

Darlene

I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was young. When I was in high school during release
time I worked with a teacher so I went into college knowing what I want to do.

Shelly

I wanted to go into photography but I knew I couldn‟t make any money but with education I
knew if I had a family it would be a great occupation because I would be home with my kids at
the same time.



How would you describe the culture of your school?

Shelly

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were very accepting here. It doesn't matter what religious background or what your home life is
like, for us anyway in our classroom, well I would say as a whole school, wouldn‟t you, we are a
very caring, everyone's welcome. It's a safe environment. We won't put up with bullying or
teasing. It's a very safe, welcome, and there's a lot of kids who don't have a very safe home life
and yet when they come to school, even in the classroom we have a couple. But when they come
here to know that it's a safe place. They don't have to worry about anything else. They just have
to focus on the education. And all of our teachers are like that.

Darlene

and also, we're a very, education for ourselves oriented faculty. There are quite a few people with
their masters or working towards their masters. There are a lot of people working towards their
gifted intelligent endorsement and there's a couple of people working towards their
administrative endorsement.

Shelly

I don't think there's a teacher at the school, as I'm thinking of the people down the hall that are
not taking classes right now, or haven‟t just recently received an endorsement or a Masters
degree. I think just our blend of faculty members, we want to better ourselves so that we can
better our kids. We really want to give them the best possible education.

Darlene

there's not one person on faculty that doesn't care about kids. And I know people who are
teaching that don't care about kids.

Shelly

some of my nieces and nephews and different schools they said that, I don't think my teacher
really cares, they just come and do their job and go home. But here at our school I think we all
take the kids home with us.

Darlene

I think everybody's friendly. Everybody cares about the other people on staff as well as the kids.

Shelly

we have an awesome supportive staff, there's just no getting around that.



What role do you think principals play in designing self-sustaining cultures of improved
change?


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Shelly

I don't know if this goes along with it or not, Kelly, our principal, he very good to be supportive
of us if we have classes after school because our classes are held at town and that's at least a 15
minute drive. And so he's very good to say, I know on Tuesdays we can't have any meetings
because 75% of our faculty is gone for classes on that day. So he's really good about trying not to
schedule things on those days. He does schedule prep time so that, he used use some of our
money to higher a PE teacher so he does schedule a weekly that all of us have all so that we
could meet. And then we also meet every Friday morning, which nobody likes. Like Mel, just
popped in a minute ago and said hey do we need to...

Darlene

but I don't know that all the teachers do that. I just see a lot of teachers at our school just doing it
on their own, after school, or before school. I guess doing that prep schedule is probably part of
that.



Can you explain what makes your school a PLC?

Shelly

we all get along, we are a true community at our school.

Darlene

and we do talk amongst ourselves about different kids or families, what's going on with families,
what was this child like in second grade because I'm having this problem with him in fourth
grade. How did you reach this child, or what were some of the interventions that you used. In the
past we've gone to some workshops together and we'll discuss those ideas. As a fourth grade
team we meet to set goals and talk about kids and their needs each week at our prep time.

Shelly

I know that there are some first grade kids to do extension activities with second grade students
so we kind of cross grades.

Darlene

we actually do third fourth and fifth grade rotations so that we can have time to do interventions
with our kids, choir art and drama and one of the teachers on each of the grade levels with the
kids so, you know, that's pretty collaborative to facilitate that. We know who needs interventions
because we pre-and post test everything. So it's 90% or higher for pre-tests. Then they can test
out and we will provide them with extension activities. If they don't score high on the pretests

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usually we will try to front load or give some help during the unit. If they don't do well on that
post test will do an intervention after that and some of that is but observation to of course, not all
test driven, but we do pre-and post tests for every unit. We decided as a third, fourth, fifth grade
team who would teach intervention courses. So we do the interventions on Wednesday and
Friday and Mrs. Anderson does the art, and she just got with a unit on pop art, Andy Warhol, and
melody does the drama portion of it.

What factors of the infrastructure at this school influence your PLCs?

Shelly

There is a lot that communication amongst the people from the administration to us, and from us
to one another, we have our common planning time, and we have our weekly Friday morning
meetings. We'd be doing it anyways, it's a lot easier when they're ours specific things set up for.



Do group dynamics influence your PLCs and how are they managed?

Darlene

on a team level I would say we are very equal. Now there are going to be times when life with
my husband had surgery I wasn't page on Trinity then and Shelley and the other two took over
for me. But now if there's something going on for Christiana will pull in and help her.

Shelly

we just have an awesome team, there's no getting around it.

Darlene

with regards to group dynamics, I wouldn't say that anyone is putting in any more than anyone
else. Now we've got melody, and she's a first year teacher and she's a dynamo. She is here like
every night from like 6 to 8 o'clock and nine of the rest of us are willing to do that any more
because we have young kids at home. But if we needed to to support her we would. We support
her with behavior type thing or what's the core, or different things like that. Let's just say she's
putting it in way more hours and we are but I wouldn't say that it's an even, were all putting in
our own parts.

Shelly

you should be in here on a Friday when we meet after school. Holy smokes. There's papers
flying everywhere... I have this, I've got this, but what about that, though I remember doing this
with my practicum, so let's try it this, I found this cool things on the Internet, so I have this
PowerPoint... it's just... if someone walked in and they would think that it's pure chaos but to us

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it's great because we are all doing the same thing, we are sharing ideas and supporting each
other.

Darlene

Mel‟s good at technology, she always has something technologically based to add, Crisanna has
taught at however many schools she‟s taught at, so she has lots of different ideas from different
places, Shelly and I had a teaming for a couple of years so we things that have worked... But pat
on a team level... now on a school level, if you want my honest opinion, are Friday meetings are
a big, fat waste of time because we are not getting what we need specific to our kids and our job.
So if we sit down there and have a couple of weeks I'm running records we don't do running
records the way that first grade does. We don't need to do running records the way that first
grade does so to me a waste of time to sit and learn how to do it specific to the lower grades.
That's just an example. I think it's hard to do a specific training that extends across all grade
levels. Now if we are talking about something like, I don't know, something that would affect the
whole school, help me think of something we've talked about recently that would affect the
whole school? Like, for instance, CSIP goals we have to go on the computer and each of us
putting grades and grade level CSIP goals. We could have the training that teaches us how to do
that, that's good for the whole school. And then we all do it on our own level, were not all in
putting the same goals. But in my opinion, there aren't a lot of those Friday morning meetings
that I can take and say I'm going to use that in my classroom right now and it's going to help me
in this way.



How could they be done differently?

Darlene

I have often thought you could do a lower grade, upper grade, and that would be more helpful
than the whole school.

Shelley

and I‟ve thought if it was just one concept, were going to be the directions, we have too many
irons in the fire sometimes and if they would just take one concept, today we're going to talk
about one of the six traits of writing.

Darlene

but that's going to be so different in upper grades.

Shelley



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another example might be a word choice lesson where they say okay, you could try this, or
this… so if it were just one, core related concept of some kind and not some, try this, or this, or
this, and next week bring this, and this, and this and you‟re going…ah….



Darlene

don't get me wrong, I like seeing what the whole school is doing and feeling like first grade
builds on kindergarten, second grade builds on first... and we have all that flowing in the right
direction but on an every, weekly basis. Like we asked Shauna to show us one thing about our
smart boards, don't give us all the technology and then not train us on how to use it. Let's get
trained on how to use Elmo, or how to use the smartboards. We had a training but it was before
we had our smart boards so nothing with hands-on, and a training like this would be something
that would cross the grade levels. My opinion is that it would be better if it were sort of a mix.
Shauna is really good about taking feedback.



Describe the ways in which you believe leadership can affect PLCs?

Darlene

Here's something, but I don't know if that answers your question, Shauna says that everything
that we've been frustrated about with our weekly meeting, she says, I went to this class, and they
talked about… this is not the PLC, because Kelly, Shauna, and the whole school was talking
about, that one meeting was the PLC. The PLC is the whole culture of the school; that we always
talk to each other, that we look at the cross grades, that we support each other in hard times, that
we talk about families, that we talk about kids, that whole thing is the PLC not just that one
meeting. And she was talking about, and we said yeah, yeah, yeah, we know, because Kelly was
getting frustrated with us at our PLCs, saying, you're not doing which are supposed to be doing
at the PLCs, is what he would say, and we were like, what, we were supporting one another,
were making plans for the kids, or setting goals, we are figuring out interventions, how is that not
the PLC? He just wants everything to be about setting goals. So you're going to set a goal that
73% of their kids are going to score proficient on their social studies presentation by a certain
date. So thats your goal. So I'll talk about how you're going to reach that goal. But if we
wandered off into, oh hey, have you seen this information on how to teach kids how to present,
like the key things that they should know, he'd go, oh, stop, that's planning. That's planning, we
can't talk about that at this meeting and we were feeling so frustrated because our goal is to help
these kids be good presenters, and we did a pre thing, we didn't give them a lot of instruction,
and they gave this thing on their native American tribe, and they stunk. They just weren't good.
They were reading, you could hear them, they hadn‟t done their research, so this was our post.
So in a time we strayed off of, what is the goal, which to us felt like we were trying to support

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the goal, he would call the planning. This is not planning time. And he would get very frustrated
with us. And so today, when Shauna was saying what she was saying, about PLCs being this
whole big thing, we need to look at the big picture of what you're doing, what you're overarching
goal is right now, what are the things that we can do to support that goal, that's what we should
be doing this meeting. And we were like, here, here, that's what we've been wanting to do and
that's why we've been frustrated because we are a little bit afraid to open our mouths because that
might not be what you're supposed to be doing and this meeting and that was a huge frustration
to our team. Now I don't know about the rest of the school because I've never sat in on anyone
elses 45 minutes prep time PLC. I've been involved in the whole school meetings on Friday and I
think as the school we do a pretty good job about all that, sharing information, setting goals,
supporting each other, but that meeting was, holy cow, I am not going to open my mouth because
it might not be what‟s supposed to be said at this meeting and to us, because our team is always
talking about kids and how to help that one who's not going to have help at home, and how to do
this, and how to do that, it‟s all mixed in with the planning of it, it's not separate things, okay,
now we‟ll talk about kids who are a behavior problem, now are going to talk about our goal, now
we're going to talk about what I'm doing tomorrow. To us it's all tied together and that meeting
was very specific. We could never quite figure out what that thing was we were supposed to be
talking about. That's been a big frustration for the fourth grade team. I don't know what you've
heard from other people because I don't know what the other people in the school have that same
frustration. But the way but our mind works, we couldn't take things in isolation it was
altogether. The upshot of today's meeting was that we said to Shauna, Shauna, that's what we've
been wanting to do the whole time but are frustration is that we are so worried about saying the
wrong thing or doing the wrong thing that we don't do anything except answer questions so it's
not really valuable interaction. What we said to Shauna was that awesome, that's what we've
been wanting to do all along, and she said, well that's more that direction, now that I've gone to
this workshop, that we are going to go. And we were like, okay, how does Kelly feel about that,
because Kelly, our principal, wasn't here today. And she was like, well, I'm going to try and
present it to him in a way... and she's trying to say, in other words, she's going to try and get him
on board with it. And so I said, these papers that we fill out every week, are not what we're
talking about here. These papers that you have for us fill out every week are just about setting
goals, that‟s it.

Shelley

and another thing with the goals, sometimes you have to teach a fourth grader out to be a person
before you can teach them the water cycle and so to us it's organizational skills. I worked with
Johnny on organizational skills, and I want to set a goal for him or the class to not have their
desk look like it's going to explode, you know what I'm saying? Or, to be responsible... it's hard
to put a percentage goal on something like that. But that is just as important in fourth grade as the
curriculum because you have to teach them how to be a person before they can be a student.

Darlene
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We do write down which kids we want to do interventions with, what we're going to do with
them, we have our goals and stuff like that, but if were going to run our grade level meeting
differently the form we fill out needs to be different. So I talked to Shauna today about this form
and she's going to redo it and she asked me to come look at it. The funny thing is about that
whole goal thing is that we are not against setting goals, that's not the problem, but as far as
doing a measurable, meet it by this day, a smart goal, I guess is what they're called, we were
feeling pressure to like do them every week or every couple of weeks or something like that,
well, the district guidelines are one per grading term, so three a year, and we are doing three a
month. It was killing us. It was not helping us to focus, you know, in your mind, and in your
teaching, you always have a goal. But to have to worry about charting a goal, and hanging it in
the hall, putting the pretests and the posttest in the binder, and all that stuff several times a month
is really, I think keeping us from doing some things, that we felt frustrated that we weren't doing.

Shelley

we felt very, very short on time trying to fit it all in. Collaboration, to me, means talking, like
what we said.

Darlene

Shauna, our staff developer, has been pretty receptive to stuff, but Kelly, our principal, is not
receptive to our suggestion. Our staff developer last year was very supportive, pro-teacher as
well. Kelly, as a vision, I didn't mean that facetiously, he has a way he thinks things should be
and he does not want that to be gone against.



Do you think your role has changed since the implementation of PLCs?

Darlene

it's made it, well obviously, I have a problem with it being all research driven, or data driven this
but looking at setting goals, and looking at test scores and talking about kids, and talking with
my team, and talking with other people school has made me much more aware of what's going
on and how to address different needs, definitely. And I'm talking about the whole PLC thing,
not just that one prep day meeting that we have as a grade level team. Definitely better! I mean
I've always been a collaborative teacher but a lot of that was more on planning type things, but
rather conversations about what you do with this kid who can't get this concept, how do you do
that? How can it not make you better? You get other people's experiences...



Is there anything you'd like to add?



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I think that you can't have that professional relationship, for me, I can't have that kind of
relationship unless I have a personal relationship and I know that the other people value my
opinions, maybe it's a respect issue, to boil it down to one word. I think that the team needs to, I
don't know, maybe people would disagree with me, but I think the team needs to be supportive
on more than just one level. I need to know that these guys will have my back if I have an irate
parent or I need to know if these guys will have my back if my husband has to have surgery like
he did earlier this year. We care about each other, and that I think roles over into our PLC. I don't
personally know what it would be like to be on the PLC where people didn't like me or I didn't
like, or whatever, there was that dynamic between you. To me that would be hard because what I
know is a supportive group. We don't spend lots of time outside school together but will go out
to dinner once a month or a couple times a year, or whatever, and we'll talk about our kids, or
talk about what's going on, and to be that all fits in with the professional part too. And we are all
really different people too, so that's not the thing, it's not like we are all similar people that have
similar interests that are just automatically friends, all four of us are really different. We worked
at accepting what each other is good at this and I don't ever feel like she's telling me that because
she doesn't think I do a good job, it's never anything like that. This




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5th – TL School #1



Could you begin by providing me an overview of your professional educational
background?

I'm a fifth-grade teacher and I've been at diamond Valley for four years. It's also my fourth year
of teaching. I did my student teaching as well as my undergraduate work at Arizona State and the
program I think was the lead program. It was in intensive firmware you had three different
internships with different schools prior to your student teaching. And then you work with your
mentor teacher for the last two months of school prior to your student teaching the following
spring semester. So you had worked in the environment in which you have been placed in. So are
student teaching was more like actual teaching, like from the beginning of the year at begin
teaching one subject beginning the first week of school. All four of my years here have been
fifth-grade, and I'm currently working on my Masters in administration. I have one semester left
of internships in the class to take in the summer.

Given your role as department head what experiences have helped prepare you for this
position?

I wouldn't really say that I've had a lot of experiences that have helped besides I'm the most
senior and this grade level.So I guess knowing the curriculum and knowing the students I guess
would be my only real experience.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

I think that culture is very academically driven. To be totally honest with you at the culture of
our school changed last year because we had a staff developer last year who was by far and away
the determining factor in the culture of the school to being not only the PLC model that using
assessments to drive instruction and making sure that teachers focus us to make their teaching
better through those assessments and through the different instruction models they were trying to
I think we have a rather loosely run school as far as I think the PLC model is that you'll see from
grade level to grade level aren't very consistent. But some of the grade levels have a lot more
unity in the way that they do things or in the Way that the PLC is run. I don't think I could be
happier at a school to be honest with you. I may be the most sarcastic person that anyone has met
but the people I am close with I am very close with and I consider good friends and would do
anything for them and I have a couple of those that school. The climate of this school changes to
depending on who iss present at the time, for example, it's very group B. because the teachers
they get along all seem to mash together in groups like the old grade teachers seem to interact a
lot more together than the younger grade teachers. Some of it is proximity I am sure and you
usually work closer together on grade level things, but I couldn't be happier with the other
teachers at the school.

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What role do principals play in designing self-sustaining cultures of improved change?

I think the principal should help create a culture that everyone enjoys working at that school and
works together and feels that everyone is a contributing member to the school community. I
think a principal's role not only to help the instructional aspect of teaching teachers to become
better teachers for the students but also to work better together whether it's academically or
collectively as a group socially. I think that teachers to get along well together tend to have a
better working relationship. Our first great team of example, they seem to work more freely, the
three of them have a better working relationship than other PLCs or just other groups I guess.
The fourth grade team gets along well I guess it didn't always used to be like that. The last
couple of years we've had groups that teachers didn't interact very well and I think that the
principal, his role should have been to make those friendships stronger because I think it
would've benefited the academics that were produced by the teachers.

How was the leadership changed since starting PLCs?

Four years ago we had no collaboration. I got nothing from any other teacher whatsoever and the
teacher that have been here, that had taught fifth grade for 18 years, been at this school since it
opened, nine years before that I believe, and it was my first year as a teacher so I didn't feel
comfortable sending my students to her or instruction. She was still using the same instructional
devices she used during her first years teaching. She wasn't using the core, and our social studies
core has changed a couple of times in the last four years. The year I got here they wanted to do
rotations where I taught science and she would teach social studies. Science is an area they are
tested in and social studies is not. And what I realized a week or two until it is that she had them
do state reports which is not in our curriculum and it was a big time filler more than anything
else and it was one of the things that has always been done in fifth-grade and they did be state
report and they had the state report days or that parents came and they set up their displays, she
was only here that first year ago and that was Kelly‟s, our principle‟s, first year here. Actually
graduate from Arizona State in January and did some substitute teaching here in St. George
working in various schools, but I never actually worked in this one, and that two of the schools I
had substituted in and enjoyed working in had job openings But they were filled by people from
within. So, I was left with this as a choice that what it said it couldn't be happier with the other
teachers I get to work with. I think when Kelly, our principal came, it changed the school a lot,
so that first year I really got that kind of closed door teacher mentality of I was on my own, I
didn't feel like there was anyone out there who is willing to help me. And I think that's one of
those things that drives teachers of education that they don't get any support, or they don't feel
like they have the support. I think our staff developers, or EYE teachers trainers, and maybe not
this year as much years previously, especially when they were starting to go to work with this
PLC model the staff developers were out at the school doing so much of their own learning of
how to run PLCs is a schoolwide model that it seemed to me that they were gone more than they
were here. Our staff developer last year was tremendous and really did a huge change here but I
also think she was gone more than she should have been, and in her case the district had liked so
                                                127
much what she had brought to our school, but they asked her to do things at other schools so she
was going to weekly meetings in other schools in the mornings and she wouldn't get up here until
1030 or so so her day was shortened to begin with. I think the staff developer that was here my
first year tried, I just don't think she was here and to be completely effective, and because I didn't
feel comfortable with the other teacher, it just felt like I gave more ideas to helping with
instruction and she did, it was frustrating being a first-year teacher because I shouldn't have felt
like I was carrying the weight, but I kind of feel like that's the way it's been now for four years.

Can you explain what make your school a PLC?

I guess in the best settings it looks like teachers coming up with instruction based on the
assessment that given and then changing the instruction or improving the instruction based on the
results they get from that. It's my fourth year and every year I tweak things to see what worked
with this group and what things did not, and it's so much nicer to have two heads come together
and say okay my kids really seem to grasp it with this but not with this, and I think that
collaboration between two teachers who take the assessment results and effectively use those to
guide their instruction to be better and then seeing the results and from there drawing
conclusions on whether it worked or didn't, and deciding how it could've been better. I think it
looks like two teachers working to teach one group of students instead of two teachers working
to teach two classes or how ever many there happened to be. I think our school represents a hit or
miss. Or maybe I can't say that, this year is much improved over last year. I think that teams are
working together this year, and there's more unity, and there is more trust and collaboration, then
what's been happening in years past. I don't know officially what's happening in the other PLCs
just what other team members share with me. A lot of times it's from Shauna, our staff
developer, when she attends our PLC meeting, I'll ask. Our first grade team won team of the year
for the district last year, so I kind of pick her brain about how their PLC runs differently, what
are ways that we could improve ours based on that, I don't know, or I'll ask her how different
PLCs go through their assessment, how they work through what curriculum they're going to use,
the sequencing of how they're going to teach, are they truly teaching the same things or are they
just taking, this is our starting point, this is our goal, and each teacher is getting their group to
that goal. However they do it, or are they truly collaborating so that each teacher is doing the
same thing, teaching the same way, for doing what's most effective for that group, I think that
first grade team seems to have a better open door, working relationship than the other groups do
and part of it is that they do a push and program with their reading where they take kids out and
group them together for reading and they've done that for the last couple of years. I think they're
more in tune to naturally move those kids around the three classrooms so that collaboration
becomes easier because they are working on helping each teacher do whatever's best for the
group as a whole, and splitting that group effectively across different subjects. I would say
portrait has a strong PLC, second grade I really don't know as much about, the third grade one I
don't always hear positive things about the way they work together, should they all ideally look
like first grade, yeah, it would be nice if they all had that same kind of a model that those

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students were put in the place that would be most effective for them. I think John my other
teammate and I are working towards that, but I don't think work to that point yet. And some of it
I'm sure comes down to that first grade team has been teaching together for a couple of years and
there is not then another grade level that hasn't changed every year since I've been here. I don't
think you have that same level of collaboration between when you always have new people
coming in.

What factors of the infrastructure of this school influence the PLC?

I think our PLCs are run differently based on the teachers that are in them. I think Kelly, our
principal, and Shauna, our staff developer, act differently in different PLC meetings. And their
assumptions and expectations seemed different for each of the groups and I think it affects how
each group works. And I formed this opinion from my conversations with other people at the
school were just seeing the social interactions between some of those people, between the
principal and other teachers, mostly that. Kelly our principal, is hot and cold with some of the
staff. Especially the fourth grade team and he's really high on other ones that maybe he shouldn't
be sometimes. I think that's changed a little bit but the way he interacts with them I think, and
staff developer as well, she in a more playful way, I think she's more serious that the younger
grades and I think it's because she's more comfortable there because she doesn't have as much
experience as you'd expect as a staff developer. She's been teaching as long as I have but in third
grade and kindergarten and I just think she feels more comfortable in the younger grades. And I
guess that's kind of natural that you would feel comfortable what you have experienced in. The
way that the interaction is between Kelly and some of the other teachers I think that they feel that
they have to be careful about what they say or do or the interactions between them. He seems to
respond well to the fifth grade team but he was a fifth-grade teacher before becoming principal.
There is not a lot of interaction with the principal, between Kelly and most of the teachers, the
demeanor in which he talks to people, or just in general conversation, just in the way he would
approach a problem or the way he would approach a situation is different based on who you are
and you have some teachers here who feel like they can do nothing but wrong, and you have
teachers who feel like they can do no wrong. And I think that that's based on the way that they
perceive their relationship with the principal. And I would say that their perception is pretty
accurate.

How do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?

You have to get everyone on the same page doing the same thing. We had PLCs last year where
it just wasn't happening. Where one member of that group was doing what we discussed in the
PLC and the other member would do anything or do a different project or assignment altogether.
Or they wouldn't meet the deadlines of what was expected to get done like it was a writing
assignment and we were given a deadline they simply wouldn't get it done. Hypothetically, I
would expect that the teachers when they had a PLC and decided this is our course of action, this
is what's best, this is what we're going to teach, this is what we expect to get done and applied

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this time, and during that first time if it wasn't the same writing assignment or wasn't done when
it was supposed to be done the next time we set one up in that group as the administrator I would
say, okay, this is what were holding ourselves to, this is the assignment we are doing, this is one
it's going to be done, I want some checkpoints. The writing assignment is due two weeks from
now, what are you doing Monday Tuesday of this week, with the due Wednesday and
Thursday,... and as an administrator go in and see if those checkpoints are being met. Actually go
into the classroom and see the progress that's being made and that whatever you decided as a
group to be the best course of action to teach that particular subject is going to be taught. And
actually see that the teachers are following through because that first time that it happens, but it
didn't get done, and it got let go, and it was all, okay, the next one we'll make sure were on the
same page. The problem is that you are set up that if it's not done this way it's okay because
nothings going to happen. I've felt like there are times when our meetings are very hit or miss.
Our meeting as a fifth-grade team especially. Our PLC, John and I collaborate better outside the
building and we do here. I don't think we've had a PLC in the last two months that both Shauna
and Kelly were here. This of the last eight weeks maybe there wasn't a time where both of them
were here at the same time. When I say outside of school, we e-mail, we talk on the phone, when
we find things, I'm a midnight worker so a lot of this stuff I come up with or find, science has
been the one that's been kind of my achillis heal for the last years spent my lowest score, and
math is always my highest area so my late-night focuses have been other ways to teach science
more effectively to these kids. So when I come across things all send John like teammate e-mails
and that was the night were all called him the morning and will go over things. I need to tell him
right away because I'm not one of those people who stores it up for a week and then, what share
of these ideas on Thursday at one o'clock in our PLC. It would be nice if that worked.

Are you going to let your school run it that way?

No. If I was the administrator for someone like me, I would say show me where you've been
collaborating outside of school and not that we don't do a full PLC here at school, because we go
over what we've done and what the results were, they were the kids that need intervention, we set
up those interventions, and they either come to me or go to John, we do that. I wish we did a
better job of interventions between the two classes but I would be fine with that type of
collaboration if they had some sort of proof to show, and if our principle ever asked me I would
pull up my e-mail account, and they hear are the things I shared with him, this is our
conversation back and forth. As an administrator, again hypothetically, during a PLC I would say
okay, these are the things you've talked about since our last meeting a week ago, what parts did
we take from it, what are things you think will be successful, or questions or concerns that you
have with whatever ideas you came up with, how are you going to be able to implement them,
how can I help you implement them, how can the team as a whole help you? I know that our
team of the two is a typical. If you had four or five teachers working together on this where what
I come up with my ideas I shoot them to the other four, and when they come up with an idea
same idea, you get things moving around, you just get more ideas created. I think a portion of the

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meeting can be contacted through e-mail such as the discovery of new ideas. When I find
something I said to him. I say, look over this, and tell me what you think. These are my thoughts
on and then we'll talk about the next, or whenever. The face-to-face interaction needs to be where
I sit down and say okay, what did you think about this, and we can go through it, and I can get
his point of view. The biggest PLC I sat in on is me and one other teacher. Shauna, our staff
developer and I were talking this last week that the one thing that first has that the other grades
don't is they have documented communication with a write down all the things that they talk
about and that it's seen and if that's what Kelly or any administrators ideal goal of what they
think it should look like that should be shown to each PLC group and say this is what I want it to
look like study of each PLC managing itself. I think it was almost one of those it got given to us,
here, run with it, without it really been structured enough to set up at the beginning. You
wouldn't take a new group of students and say okay, this is how we do reading groups, were
going to do it for two days and then you're going to do it on your own for the rest of the year I
think that's kind of how our PLC model was set up your, at least a little bit. That it was, these are
kind of your guidelines, take it, you guys work with it a little bit, and I think it's why these kind
of molded themselves to be the way that they are, where they are varied by grade level instead of
being a little more uniformed. And unfortunately if I hadn't gone and asked the staff developer
about what the first great award winning team was doing I wouldn't have found out. It should
have been, this is what we're doing and this is what it should look like, let's make yours look like
this. And I'm not saying that fifth-grade should do exactly what first grade is doing or that your
PLC will look exactly the same, because every PLC will look different by grade level, but ours I
think are even more off because every group... the goal of every group is different because we
don't have someone saying okay, this is what we want it to look like. You would give your
students an assignment and not give them and checked it to work towards. But we have been
given this assignment of making a PLC and not being able to see okay, this is what our final
outcome should look like. My problem with thinking about initiating change like this, whether
it's more communication amongst the grade levels, would be perceived both by Kelly our
principle and by other PLC teams who may like it the way that it is. I worry that due to, like I
said before, the varying relationship between groups, or Kelly our principle and individual
teachers, I just don't think Kelly would be receptive to me making the initiative to change
something because he‟s controlling. There are little things that are, for example, John the other
guy in my team is doing and administrative internship right now so he's usually the principal in
charge when Kelly is gone and I will do my internship in the spring, that will be my role, but Jon
and Kelly were both gone couple of weeks ago and the fourth grade was doing something
making bread or something, some educational thing that was one of those outside things like
funnel cake or something, and I asked one of the fourth-grade teachers, did you run this by Kelly
beforehand and she said no, I didn't. And I said just give me an overview of why you're doing it,
what purpose does it serve, so she told me, but gave me the questioning look. Then I said, you
know he's going to ask me,, he likes to know how things are done, or what's going on, but he
doesn't seem to have much of a role in how those things happen he just likes to know what it's.


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And things need to get done in his way sometimes I guess. Ultimately, I would be afraid that our
working relationship, if I were to take the initiative to follow-up on something like this, would
turn into what some of the other teachers feel like they have with Kelly. Or what I perceive them
to have as a working relationship. And the problem is I think that it's a one time thing with
Kelly, that that first time that he gets upset with you about something, that that going to fester.
And I've come to that conclusion upon certain ways that he treats certain teachers and the actions
he has towards, years ago, the first great team. The first year I was here John who I work with
right now was on that team and they went to Kelly and asked what the job of a staff developer is,
and he blew up at them and he could be heard yelling at them through the walls of his office. Not
that I perceive he has a bad relationship with John now, but Jon has a bad relationship with him.
And I think it stems from that initial confrontation. Which was almost 4 years ago. But at the
same time, Kelly our principle is very a wouldn't say bipolar but he's very hot and cold. It could
be day to day sometimes or even morning to afternoon... I think some of it is that he went
through a nasty divorce I guess a couple of years ago and maybe some of it stems from that. But
I do know that the majority of the people that feel like they have a more difficult relationship
with him are not men, but it's not always just women. When he does get really upset so the whole
school walk on egg shells trying to understand what happened and I feel like some of the
teachers here, that whole walking on egg shells have to do that more often than not. Last year,
Debbie, our special educator, asked what another aides role was and Kelly basically said don't
rock the boat.

Can you provide specific examples of how your role has changed since initiating PLCs in
your school?

I actually collaborate now. I think my teaching has improved or not a perfectionist but a flaw of
mine is being too critical not of others necessarily, but more of myself, and my goal for this year
was to have 100% of my students be proficient in both language and math and for science to be
over 90% which means only one student in here can be not proficient. Last year my goals for
90% for the other two and 85% for science some kind of just pumping myself up a bit. I hit my
goals last year language and math were both over 90% but my science school was low so that's
been my focus this year. I think I've gotten better at my previous/post tests at assessing what they
know and then honing in on the things that they don't. My first two years I taught everything sort
of generically, I didn't test with a new already or focus on those deficiencies, I just taught
everything so I was wasting a lot of time on the stuff that they knew already. And that gotten
much better, right now, anything we do in math, any individual concepts that were working on, I
see which ones have it and which ones don't, and I can do interventions with them on this
specific topic and for my ones that have everything, their my ones that compact out and do other
things they do their extension menus and do projects and things like that that are going to
challenge them status of in class and listen to things you know already. I think that's the thing
that's helped me the most. i tribute to some of its PLCs , I attribute the collaboration part of its
PLCs, but I would be fine being that teacher on a rock out by themselves teaching, you know, I

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don't even know what decade to put that in, but I know teaching for years, a long time ago,
where every teacher shut their doors and taught their kids the best way and it's one of the things
that scares me when they talk about doing merit pay stuff and you would all of a sudden lose that
collaboration because you don't want his grades to be as good as mine because are getting paid
based on how well our kids do. It's sad think about because I interned in doing a disservice to the
16 kids in the other class. I've been able to see how much it's helped me to work with somebody
else because I didn't work with anybody else the last three years. It's so much nicer to have John,
even if he's just there for me to ping-pong ideas off of its nice to have that person and our staff
developer was that person for me last year.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I guess for PLC to be truly effective you have to have individuals who are willing to work
together and work together effectively. So as a principal unique to have that happen. You need to
make that happen. And looking at the PLC model I find a lot of it to be very positive. I find to
also be idealistic and the fact of the matter is when you have 235 10 individuals working together
you're going to have those conflicts and you need to have a strong leader as an administrator that
can communicate effectively to make that conflict not become an issue in making that PLC run
effectively and effectively help teach those kids. If you had a strong enough administrator and
they did not communicate or one who had open lines of communication with both sides of that
party they could be the mediator and help figure out what the underlying problem is help to solve
it. That also sounds idealistic doesn't




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5th – Other teacher School #1

Could you begin by giving me a brief overview of a professional, educational background?

I got my Associates degree from Marshalltown community college, it's Iowa, where Im from. I
did my undergrad from the University of Northern Iowa elementary education, and I graduated
from their 2003 at got my first teaching job in Yuma, Arizona, teaching seventh grade language
arts and reading and then I moved to Plano Texas and taught fifth grade and then I decided to
come to Utah and I taught fifth grade in Provo and I've been down here in St. George at the same
school since 2006 and here I‟ve taught first, third, and fifth. I've really had some varied
experiences. The school in Yuma was very disfuntional and the turnover rate was 20 to 30
teachers a year. The whole school was about 50 or 60 teachers so that would be about half of
their staff. So there were a lot of ESL students, it was right on the border. And then in Plano,
there was no child left behind, so I know all about that. Provo, it was a low income school, so I
got the experience they. Now I've been out here and it's really small town, different from the
other places. After Provo, I got married and wanted to find a job down here, and I didn't really
get any phone calls from any schools, faces when they were hiring 300 teachers for the school
year, this was when it was growing, but now it's down to nothing really, they are not hiring
hardly at all but I kept talking with the principle here at diamond Valley and he offered me a first
great job so I took it to kind of get my foot in the door and then the next year I wanted to move
out because that is what I was most familiar with, fifth grade, so I was going to teach a
fourth/fifth, but they got rid of that so I ended up teaching third grade for two years and now I'm
in fifth grade. This is my fourth year here, seven years total. I got my masters degree from
Southern Utah University in 2008 and then took a semester off, I took one ESL class during that
semester, and then I went and started working on my administrative endorsement in 2009. Since
no elementary schools in the St. George have AP‟s its difficult to do my internship.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

The culture of our school is really academically focused. When I came here it was really
haphazard, we really didn't know where we were going. Our early-morning meetings that we do
once a week, we had one topic this week and in the next week another topic, we were just all
over the place. We had a staff developer last year, and the previous year, who had a doctorate
and a lot of experience to adults, and things like that. She really kind of focused us on curriculum
writing across the continent areas, really got us into the professional mode versus just teachers
coming here to give cutesy stuff, got us into the professional thinking. Our culture I'm starting to
find it more like how what was before our last staff developer was here more haphazard not
really a focused vision I guess. Our new staff developer is a teacher, she was a kindergarten
teacher for two years, and so she became staff developer and it's not as focused, we're not
working on any thing, I feel like, whereas before we were working on curriculum mapping,
really focused on things like that. I think staff development which has some of culture needs to
be more differentiated, that's what I've read a lot about, instead of doing the same thing because

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not everybody has the same needs, you need to look at the individual teacher and figure out what
their needs are and then focus on the. There needs to be a focus. Maybe continuing with the
curriculum mapping and adding more than that instead of just scrapping it and doing something
different. I think, a vision kind of drives your school culture and when your vision is
disconnected from what we were doing, and I think it was pretty successful, your culture
becomes kind of shaky at times I think. I would say that vision for diamond Valley academic
focus. Though we don't really have a vision/Mission Statement. We did them for each grade
level, but we don't have one of the school. I talked to my principal about that and he said we
don't. I guess it's just more academic focus, at least that's what my principal told me. I had to find
that out for one of my classes, because I had never seen one before.

What role they think principals play in designing self sustaining cultures of improved
change?

I think the principle sets the tone for the whole school by wandering around and visiting
classrooms, see that there's teaching going on making sure, especially in PLCs, making sure
teachers are following the maps that we were using so that we know what teaching next, making
sure that teachers are doing the pre-and post-, holding us accountable I guess I should say and I
think principal holds their teachers accountable than change happens. And change is tough for a
lot of people especially teachers that have been teaching for a while, teachers don't always like
change, but when principals hold their teachers accountable for teaching students and I think that
change can be lasting and while that principle is there. What teachers are held accountable the
culture improves in the school. Holding teachers store high standard and then in turn making sure
teachers hold their students to a high standard.

Can you explain that what makes your school a PLC?

I think we're a bunch of PLCs inside of the building. We have a kindergarten PLC, a first grade,
a second grade... but as a, do I know what's going on in first grade? I don't have a clue how they
run their PLCs. And they are the districts team of the year from last year. And we have no clue
what they did to make them become that. And I think that that‟s important to know so that we
can maybe replicate what they did in first grade. I would say that at this school we are a bunch of
little plcs, which work pretty well, but as a school PLC hope we do things together as far as
student data, I have an experience that, so... my wife is an elementary school teacher in St.
George and they have their PLCs in the mornings for 45 minutes but we don't do it that way,
we'd do it during the afternoon so that our principal can be at each one when he's in the building
so that principle is more aware of what's going on within each grade level and I think that's
important so I think that type of concept may work in some schools.

What role do you think school culture plays in influencing school based change?

Culture and Change really do go together. Because you might have a school that not performing
at all in the culture that school effects that. I'm trying to relay what I'm thinking. And those

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teachers may be really difficult to persuade to enact change in school because they're so used to
underperforming, morale may be low, things like that, so change may be hard. Whereas, a school
that performing…but they may be apt to not change either, because why should they change if
things are working so it's a good question, they're really good together, change and culture,
because if you have an underperforming school change may be difficult to take place because
they're used to the status quo but I think that if the faculty and teachers see a clear vision and you
take baby steps to reach that goal or reach that vision to the school may be more apt to reach that
end the cultural change towards your vision.

What role do you think PLCs play in influencing school based change?

I think the whole PLC process has taken the traditional school and kind of flipped it because the
traditional school the teachers had to their doors shut, they did whatever they did inside their
room, and nobody else knew what was going on, not even your team members. So I think PLCs
have really helped teachers interact more with each other. And so when it comes to the whole
change process I think it made, I think it even made the culture better, you are more open to
discuss things with other people. I'll have a teacher from across the hall come over and ask me
for ideas or have me help her with certain things. My co-teacher, we always talk to each other
about what's going on. I know where he's that he knows where I'm at and we know about each
other's student because we have that PLC, we talk about these types of things in those meetings.
Whereas before, I've worked at schools before where I did not know one single student in
another teachers class especially in Provo, we didn't do PLCs I think we tried it but we weren't
how accountable for it and I didn't have a clue about the other student's. I think it's really
opened up and taken the walls out of the school and made it more open. I think doing that to my
experience in Provo, our team meetings were mostly just planning, where in our PLCs here we
talk about individual students and we talk about their needs and will should know that is what the
PLC is really supposed to be taught, those students who may not be getting the concepts, what do
we do with those students, and those students that are getting concept what do we do with those
students? Doing interventions and things like that. I think that's the nature difference between
team meetings and PLCs, looking at student data, looking at pretests versus post tests, looking at
all those types of things, whereas a traditional team meeting was looking at plans and griping and
such. I think our PLC have helped me become more aware of where we need to go instead of just
being stuck where we need to go as far as having that end in mind. So it does give directions on
where our students should be because we talk to each other. My team teacher has been teaching
fifth grade up here longer than I have so it's nice to have A sounding board.

Do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?

Last year we had two teachers who taught third grade for two years and I was the team leader
and we had a teacher who had taught for 18 years up in northern Utah and he didn't buy into the
whole PLC concept so when we would bring papers to grade to look at he would have his
already done it and it was always a total goof session all of the time. And the dynamics of that

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grew and it really did affect the PLC. We weren't working together and we weren't looking at all
of our student data, we were looking at two sets and we really didn't know where to go we never
solved it because he got cut because of loss of numbers so he went to teach at the new charter
school. I don't know if he would've been here another year if it would have changed. So I try to
move him forward, I tried to keep the tone of the meeting more professional, I try to move it
away from the jokes that he would always say back to what we are working on at hand. It was a
challenge. I think one of the things that did somewhat work but I eventually just burned out
because I felt like I was doing all of it so what I did that kind of got us focused on what we
should be doing and our main focus last year was content area writing and so taking our units
and creating a writing piece to fit to those units. And so what I did to write units and then give
them to him, step-by-step what his kids should be doing, because we had the new teacher that ive
been describing, and another teacher who was joining us through an alternative licensure
program, so both of them needed a little extra support. I think helping them know where they
need to go, some type of focus, helped them and I think things like this could help teachers even
who have been teaching for a while because she ran into teachers who aren't even teaching the
core standards because they're outdated, what they were 15 years ago so giving them these kinds
of steps, this is where were heading. On the PLC side, I think it's less threatening because they
are in a smaller group, is more of a confidential manner than in a large group, and having the
whole parameters, the norms, and things like that, going through them at the beginning also
really helped.

Do you believe your school utilizes PLCs effectively?

Last year when they weren't looking for a team to look at, to be the team of the year for the
district, they said that they could go to any grade to see a good PLC, a committee that was going
around and observing because that's what they were basing the team of the year on how their
PLC was running. So they chose a team that I think was running really well as far as the
completion and things like that. Because as I think back to the other teams, the fifth grade team
last year wasn't working at all together, there was a teacher here and a teacher there and they
weren't working well together. The third grade team was kind of nice we had two teachers on
board but one that wasn't so when you go back to visit a school-wide I don't think that it is
because it's not a culture shift, for them thinking that it's an important... if you look at the
differences of a schoolwide PLC and the individual teams, that's what I think we are, I don't
think were schoolwide PLC. Our staff developer last year and the year before pushed us. Kelly,
our principal, knows a lot about PLCs, and I think he got the school going on the PLC school
concept, so he‟s really good at it and in getting people on board, because that's what they want
school to be. But I don't know if I see it as our school being it….

then in your opinion what would make it a schoolwide PLC?

I think there's a barrier between what happens on the lower grades end of the hall and the upper
grades end of the hall. And it's really crazy how that is being how small we are, we are not a fake

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school at all, it just feels like none of us ever go down to that end and those guys never come
down here. We do classroom walk-throughs but it's really only one time a year. We went down
to kindergarten last year and really get too much with it. I think it's the whole communication
lacking between teachers and teams. What I would like is knowing what's going on down there
with PLCs. What do they do thats different? Do they have a different binder? Some may be
while they are doing their PLC have a fifth grade team go down there and see what they're doing.
If they're the team of the year then we all should know what they are doing, and replicating it.
Maybe during one of our early morning meetings we could have like one to two teachers in a
group talking about what they do to their PLC and getting ideas about those types of things.
think the adults when they have a focused topic learn more from each other than from just
a person giving you all the information. And that's what I've tried to do with my class when I
work with adults having them discuss it amongst each other because they get more out of it, and
learn more from it than they would from me just giving them all the information. I think there
should be more of a schoolwide mission/vision statement where we all are focused on something
versus each of the individual grade levels. I think classrooms can have their own vision
statement, I think that's a good thing, but having more of a global focus versus just a local focus
is really important as well.

Describe the ways in which you believe leadership can have an effect in supporting PLCs?

This year we are doing in school something called clustering where one teacher has gifted and
talented kids that have been identified and the other teacher has the highest ability kids it's a
whole new program. They're trying to do it at the district, a couple of schools are doing it. What I
think is interesting though is in our PLCs now we're focusing on those gifted kids and not
necessarily on those kids that are struggling and that need the extra help, the extra interventions,
and things like that. So I really need to take the initiative, my team leader right now is kind of
heavy, he tends to take up the time. I don't want to say that I'm more passive he's just more
aggressive, talking more about his top kids, what they're doing, I just need to take more initiative
about driving that discussion, from always talking about the top kids to talking about the lower
kids. I mentioned this to Shauana, our staff developer, I just wanted her to listen and see how
much time it's taken up talking about those top kids get up talking about those kids... he has one
or two, and I have several in here that really need that extra attention and support and so that's an
example that I need to do because you are going to have some of those teachers that are heavy-
handed when it comes to... and think that their more important than other people and so I need to
take the initiative and drive it more this way instead of always that way. That's one thing I think I
can focus on that takes leadership.

How have your PLCs changed?

I think a lot of the changes we experienced when our principal first came on board weren't
necessarily attributed to PLCs but rather the heavy-handedness of the leadership that he had. I
think what he tried to do, and that kind of talk to him about this and he told me what he did he

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would have changed is that he came in and wanted 100% change, but most people couldn't
handle it because this was a school that was a ways away from town and they kind of got to do
what they wanted to do and nobody bothered them, and he didn't like a lot of things that were
going on so he changed it. And a lot of the things that he did weren't good leadership. He'd
probably tell you that too. But when I first came here I was in first grade, and now there's only
one of that original group, I moved up grade levels and the other one to move to another school,
it's changed a lot and what I think happened was we had kind of going back to the staff
developer, for those two years, first our PLCs were focused on planning, and then it turned into
gripe session, and then it turned into... they weren't PLC, and then we got another staff developer
who created these binders for us so that we can track kids, he would have our norms… it was
more focused on what we were supposed to be doing, we created smart goals, we will post those
up in the hallway… we still do that but it was different then, she would hold us accountable for
putting up art graphs in the hallway and if you look out there now, our grade level, it's not up,
and we need to do better on that. She would send us notes or approach us directly to follow up,
do you know, you need to get those graphs up and we would say, oh, okay. The things that she
asked us to do were slowly introduced, I don't think teachers handle immediate change very well.
What she did for a while there was that she led the PLCs so that we could see how they were
supposed to be run. And then she would give us a little bit at a time, that zone of the proximal
development, she treated us that way. She ran for a while, and then she gave it to us a little bit at
a time and by the end of last year we were running and she would be in there with us and if there
was something that wasn't going to right she would jump in to steer us... She was more of a
coach. She left diamond Valley because she just couldn't handle it up here, not here at this school
necessarily, she wanted to move up so they offered her a job at the district office, and she took it
but towards the end of the summer she got a bad feeling about it so she just ended up leaving and
she went back to Vegas and is teaching down there.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

 Of course there needs to be buy in from everybody and I think teachers have influence over
other teachers and if some of those teachers do have buy in then they can influence the others. I
also think that having a focus of where you want to be at that's something that a school needs
too, to have a mission and vision of where they want to be at, kind of a global understanding of
where they want to be at. And having everybody focused on that as well, having teams work
together but also having the administration in there as well, having the administration in on the
meeting is important because not only does the administration feel that it's important because
they're showing it, but the teachers know that the administrators think PLCs are important. And I
have felt that their with our principal being in our meetings and stuff because I know he feels the
PLCs or important but I also think that having somebody show them, having that zone of
proximal development, showed them how it is, run them for a while, and then have the team
leader slowly take charge of it. I think one thing that I need to do is focus and gear our PLCs
towards those kids that are struggling and find out ways to help them instead of its always being

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top level kids. And so I think that something that I need to do. I think the whole PLC process is a
mindset, something you'd do without even thinking about it, and I don't know if we are really
there yet, let's say if our principal left, if it would stay, I don't know, but I think when you go and
implement PLCs into a school, and I'm kind of thinking of a previous school that I worked at, I
would want to be there, and model would've PLC and kind of help them through the process
because I don't think you can just say you are a PLC, to say to a school where going to be a PLC
now, it doesn't happen. You have to have at least one person in there who does what it looks like
and really focus on what it looks like for that school. I think there is a lot of power in the PLC of
bringing pretests and looking at and analyzing those and knowing what does pretests can do to
drive your instruction. And a lot of schools don't do that. My wife school just down the road
doesn't do that. Their principal wanted to do two graphs for the whole entire math program and
they about had a fit and so it‟s just...we started using the graphs for with our previous staff
developer, she came to me and said I think you should do some pre-and post test to see what
happens and graph them in so I think I was the first one who started doing it. And so I just started
doing it and I talked to my kids about it explaining that we are all on the same team and if some
of us bomb our tests and then you‟re bring down the whole team. And so I really tried to instill
that in my kids that were a team, a whole group, not just individuals. And I think kind of going
back and saying that, that's what the school needs to be too, they need to be a team instead of
individual and they all need to work together.




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Principal School #2



Overview of your professional/education background

I went to ask college got an associates degree in Idaho and then I went to BYU and got my
bachelors in my Masters and then I went back and got my administrative endorsement at BYU.
I'm originally from the Seattle area and just sort of landed here and stayed



Given your role as principal what experiences have prepared you for this position?

Being in the classroom and teaching. I think the classroom setting and teaching for 12 to 13 years
really gave me the background that I needed to understand. I think that if you do well in the
classroom it's just a little many administrative experience. And if you can use strategies in the
classroom and still get their responses that are good and you can step out of that arena and going
to a school usually you're going to be pretty successful they can handle your classroom and the
issues that come up classroom. I'm on my 29th year 13 years in the classroom and 15 years as an
administrator.



As principal can you describe the philosophies?

I guess my philosophy is student oriented and we do whatever we need to do to help them be
successful. I also believe we are the visitors here not the students. The students are mandated to
be so we are actually the adults here are the visitors, and we are here to serve them as best he can
and give them the skills and tools they need to have to be successful in life, down the road.



Philosophy of the staff

I believe in autonomy. I believe in boundaries. I believe in setting expectations, and the
autonomy to implement those expectations within the classroom. I also believe in trust. I trust
that they're doing that. If they ever get on my radar its usually something else. But I trust
everybody. That they're doing what they need to be doing. I also believe in articulating that in a
way that everyone understands the expectations, our expectations of the school, and embrace it
as much as they can. But basically give them the structure, but let them implement it, they're the
experts in the classroom. Unless I have other feedback, then I let them really do what they're
supposed to be doing in the classroom without a lot of mess with me.




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How would you describe your leadership style?



I'm a collaborative leader. I've always been naturally collaborative. I like to have everybody's
input because I find that inherent auditory leaderhip that doesn't go very far. But if you're
collaborative everybody owns stake. I also believe im a facilitator of needs for the teachers. I am
there to help facilitate whatever they need to be successful in the classroom. So I'm a facilitator,
that's another thing, what can I do to help you be better, what can I do to help you in the
classroom to be more successful.



The culture of your school?

The culture of my school is very collaborative. I think they enjoy sharing and talking and
working with each other. I think we have a very cohesive group. And there are levels within the
cohesiveness. But as a whole think we have a pretty cohesive group in a collaborative way of
talking and sharing and supporting each other. We have an open door policy obviously we invite
parents in and we also are big believers in e-mailing and talking to parents weekly not just twice
in a semester or quarter. We do an open conversation with weekly e-mails that we do send out. I
also believe that we can't do it ourselves and they can't do it themselves so it have to be a team to
help the student be successful. So we are open to conversations, to criticisms, to what can we do
better. It's very important that parents buy what were selling too. They're a critical part of the
school. Most parents at this school aren't intimately involved like at an elementary school.
Elementary is a neighborhood school this is not a neighborhood school. We bus in from a lot of
different areas so it becomes a long-distance school for a lot of parents so it isn't in their
neighborhood, it isn't in the realm of getting to easily. But we do offer opportunities to have them
come up here with different things that we have after school and productions that we do, but we
found that technology is a real key to communication because we are able to to do TCN calls that
blast everybody's phone. We do e-mails from her office in the teachers to e-mails of what
assignments are due. So we do involve parents as much as we possibly can.



What roles do principals play in designing self-sustaining cultures of change?



I think again I have to come up with the big ideas. I really believe it's my job to come up big
ideas put it on the table. And then have everybody chew on it, look at it, how does it work, how
does the overlay. I need to articulate through research that this is probably the best way to go
because of this, this, and this reasoning. So I am the one who's always looking for the
improvement. I'm the one who's looking for what is needed, but giving them the autonomy to

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help explore these things. And give them the opportunity to provide feedback to me. But I'd go
and see what's on the horizon because teachers don't really have the time to do the research.
That's my job to help direct this boat, navigated through the waters of change, and I'm the one
who has to build that relationship with my teachers so that they can trust me and so I can relate to
them. And hopefully give them the opportunity to express themselves in a non-threatening way,
so that's why have a leadership team. They are representative of all the school, so they're my
barometers; is this too much, doing me to pull back, do we have too much on your plate, are we
asking too much, is this working, is that working, it's modified, let's pull back. Teachers always
come and ask me, Bobby, what do you think? And I say yes, as long as... I support teachers
because I know that they have a better feel for what they're doing a better feel for their students
and their needs. And so I give them lots of the economy to explore. But there's a basic boundary
here that I set, and they work within the boundary. I say, I don't care how you do your job, as
long as it's legal. That's the fun part about teaching. Everyone can't insert their personality into
their classroom, and be teaching the same thing, and getting the same good results, but through
different avenues and in different ways. There is no right way of doing things. Everybody has to
interpret them, but interpret them with good strategies, with good ways of teaching. But
everybody learns differently, every student learns differently. There are different philosophical's
beliefs. I believe and not just learning through the mind but also through behaviors, modeling,
observing, there's a lot of things that go on in learning that's a big complicated process.



How do you manage staff development?

We keep our teachers pretty well educated by constantly searching, a lot of my teachers thirst for
this stuff. And how do we overlay it, but I don't do my staff development in big groups I do it in
small intimate groups. I have three staff development groups that we do and it's teacher to
teacher. I'm not teaching them, or my staff developer, but teacher to teacher is teaching the staff
development. And these people who were in these roles have backgrounds that support
strategies. For example I'm requiring all of my language arts teachers right now to get an ESL
endorsement if they want to stay here. That's part of the criteria for being here. And we are
holding class right now, and this school, the only school in the district that's holding ESL classes,
afterschool and I have, I think, 10 to 13 people in my group right now who are going through the
staff development that is beyond the regular staff development that I have every month.



Can you explain what makes your school a PLC?

we have so many levels of conversations in our PLCs. We have a common practice with the
team's. That creates a conversation when you have three team members who own the same
students and can communicate together anytime they want. We have formal PLCs on Thursdays
where we break out and we talk about every student in the school with a team of teachers, the

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only court teachers but we also have a resource teachers, and our counselors, and are
administrators and all those meetings. So we all sit together and talk about every student. Once a
month we have meetings either we do staff development we have to department meetings, and
then we have a big hall meetings because the kids in this building will usually stay in that one
hall over the two years that they're with us. So the teachers in that hall collaborate discussing
what do we do with these kids, we have some issues, what issues do we need to deal with? That
their community up there. We have four different communities here broken down into four
manageable communities where they work together as a whole for the good of the student. That's
why her discipline is really down because the teachers on them. They own those kids. And a
moderate and supervise collaborate and have parties, and have things that help them fill contact
it, and belonging to the school, and it's been really powerful actually to see the student turned
around. The climate of the student actually changes as they go through this experience. Our
scheduling is the baseline whereby we create our PLCs. You have to have a structure. Number
one but this building was conceived me and my fellow principal who quit, we designed this
building. We had a philosophy of a middle school behind this building. So when the architect
came down he said let's build a building just for your intermediate kids. Right now the teachers
are door to door, which is cool, and there unique communities because everybody identifies
themselves in a different way. Like if you look at our hall designs and what they emphasize, they
all have different personalities as you go to the different halls, it's the makeup of the people. And
the kids own those halls. Like in a hall, those things aren't torn down, those things aren't
vandalized, those things stay up all year long. In other schools that are likely to be vandalized
and/or toward down but those kids own those things, it's them. So they have that feeling of
connection and respect in that hall and they take pride in belonging that community.



How would you characterize your role in supporting PLCs?

My role is to support those communities but I also have an expert patient that they're going to be
there, and they're going to be ran, and they'ress certain verbiage that's going to happen. We've
created a formal format to train teachers to talk the talk because I don't think we've learned how
to talk professional talk. We comprised of form because people really had done it before know
what good talk was, they don't know how to engage in a way that's going to give the information
to each other. So we do have a format just for training purposes, to get your mind and to what we
need to talk about what is important in these meetings and what do we need to glean from these
meetings. So we did do that. The reason I go to every one of them is because I need to
understand what's happening, not to micromanage, I sit along the side. I don't join in. I listen and
am observer because I want to understand what they're saying without any of my input. I want
them to be free. I don't conduct those meetings, like I said I sit and observe, because I want to
understand where they're at and if there is any points of clarification or leadership that I can
provide I really see my role as a facilitator. It's a big role to facilitate the direction the school
needs to go and giving them the tools that they need to have to do it that's why sent three of our
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leaders down to a conference. Continuous professional development, learning and growth is
important and so my three department heads are down to leadership conference in Austin Texas
trying to glean some more stuff that we can keep moving down that road and keeping our
strategies up and keeping things going. We do a lot of peer coaching. That was her emphasis last
year on our staff development, getting people to classrooms. My role is also to give professional
feedback, critiques, that will help you become more astute and better in your profession. I do a
lot of walk-throughs. I do onr a quarter. I do a lot of professional valuations as part of my job. As
I go through it I have to give them good input that and my primary thing is to help that teacher be
successful. Because if they are not successful I'm not going to be successful. I don't go in there to
look at the negatives. I go in there looking to see what I can do to help. What can I do to support
you to become better what you're doing. That's my objective.



Do group dynamics influence PLCs?

yes, they said formal norms of. And you know what, through this process there is a respect that is
buildings for each other to be able to be free to talk. That's sort of why I split them up, because
there's always dominant personalities and there's always passive personalities. We always have
them sitting at a round table like this and they meet on a neutral turf, it's not in anyone's room so
that they're all on the same level. This is a new thing that I came with this year because I found
when you go into someone's room there are people sleeping and people not listening, put them in
a new setting and make them all accountable for the process of interacting and I couldn't do it
with 50 people. So I had to divide conquer and break them up to smaller groups, manageable
groups. So we have our meeting on Tuesday Wednesdays and Thursdays, so I can go to all of
them, so I've been meeting every day after school, literally, but I'm a part of everything, and I
really hesitate because it sounds like micromanaging, but it isn't. It's getting my hands dirty with
them. Being on the same level as they are as we go through this process knowing that I'm
concerned about it and I want to help them get to that point worth manageable because if I'm not
there it's not going to happen. I can tell you that. If an administrator isn't involved it's not going
to happen. You can't just throw it to a teacher and say okay, do it because the lack of respect,
they just don't have the authority to move it in the direction. I think it's successful because I'm
involved with everything on some level but hopefully in a nonthreatening way. But supporting
the concept and the philosophy. In the past I've found that if you hand it over and if I'm not a part
of it as the person who stays at the office, you have to be visible to be successful. You have to be
visible to have these things happen. It's not for me to manage them, they come up with the ideas,
they come up with the direction, they come up with the conversation. They come up with all the
stuff that I really do need. They're better than I am, I can't think up all this stuff. I research has
shown that her principal isn't involved it's not going to happen. They can come up with the best
ideas, but if you're not visible, a part of those ideas, it folds.



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Leadership style??

They're looking at doing trimesters which is 51 minute times. That totally doesn't work and it's
not my beliefs about what's best for student. We have data that shows that. We're not losing kids
through the cracks. You should come to our team meetings. Were articulating about every kid in
the school. Every Thursday we talk about every kid in the school, literally. We have them all day
on Thursday. That's our block. I take this half of the building and Mark takes the other half and
were in meetings all day long, and PLC rotations all day long. With teams of counselors with
teams of resource teachers. We all meet with the court teachers that we talk about the explicit
hundred kids. That's all they have in sixth and seventh. So we cleaned out 84 kids because they
don't have a seventh day now. So the teachers have less to worry about. Now, we've found in our
studies that connect it with a significant adult is the primary goal. That's student has to make that
connection with a significant adult. And when they do that they grow. And we've seen it. I have a
team of three teachers that only manage or teach those hundred kids and I expect them to know
intimately. I do. I expect them to articulate their needs and what they're going to do with them.
Remediating, and the remediation happens with the court teachers, the primary teacher, not
somebody odd coming in and doing a study skills class. It never works. It never works. At least
in my experience. They need to stay with that primary teacher. And that primary teacher doesn't
have a crutch to drop kids and not own them. All kids learning. And what I expect in this school
is show me measurable progress. Everybody in the school needs to show me some progress with
every student in the room. Some measurable progress. And that's not defined by me, it's defined
by what was their test score and what's being done in increments. It's a powerful thing here. It's
the first time I really felt like were doing productive things and not just spinning our wheels. We
don't have the arrows in the hall, we don't have that negative junk. Her griping about kids
wouldn't waste time with that. The negative stuff, you know. I honestly expect them to raise the
bar I am raising my bar every year and I'm expecting the people here to raise the bar and not go
back on complacency that's one of the reasons we moved the halls around last year. They fell
back on what they did. The first year we rocked and rolled it as I saw the teams in the second
year they won't back to what they know which is not necessarily the best thing. We started the
deteriating and declining so last year I moved curriculum and new teachers all over this building.
New teams were created, everything. We did a dynamic change. We change to their disciplines
too. I'm sure they didn't like it at first but now they're coming to me and saying thank you so
much, you know, because I have to keep them on course. They knew six months in advance that
I was going to make this change and it's not like they're out there on their own doing this we
have a support system. We have our curriculum maps that are common to everyone in sixth
grade. So we have a support system. They meet they collaborate a trade, so they're not creating
new curriculum, they're in a support group all the way through this. So they have avenues of
support all the way through so it's not like the good old days when you gave him the key and told
them to go for it. This is a very open society, this is very a community-based Society to glean

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from each other. I've just found that the first year they're great, but the second year they tend to
stagnate, and by the third year... sometimes you just need to look at the dynamics, I moved a
seventh grade math teacher to a sixth-grade math class. I moved a lot of things around here just
to get a better fit for the needs of these kids. I looked at their abilities, their skill level, and I
realize that this teacher who is teaching language arts it was too cluttered, she doesn't know how
to clean out the clutter and focus on the important elements that she's great in math because she's
more analytical. The other one didn't have the depth or math, she'd need to be a language arts
teacher. So you're always analyzing the players to make sure that it's the best thing for the kids,
the best fit for the students. And we have a lot of new ones here, a lot of interns that barely got
their endorsement, we have a variety of teachers, and even seasoned teachers. And that gives you
depth to. For new teachers coming and they have a lot of support. It's not just an either or, it's the
departments, it's the curriculum mentors who are right there feeding them because their maps are
tight so they're teaching about the same thing at the same time in their pace each other really
tightly and so, it's been good. It's been an interesting evolution, but it wasn't without the pain. I
had a lot of heartbreak for a long time. And finally or not coasting, finally were looking at data
now. We can't got to this level and now we can add another thing to our pot so to speak it's been
good because now I feel like were doing that good stuff. I don't have to worry about managing
people, not to worry about doing those things. Because the teachers are managing themselves.
They see the results, the results are good. They see that support, they're getting something from
it, they're not competing with each other anymore.. It's a win-win system. Our culture has
changed, you know I'm teaching a curriculum class at the University of Phoenix and curriculum
has changed. We can't keep up with this. I really believe, their say in the nation that schools are
failing , but were not failing if that were not keeping up with the trends. The trend is technology,
the trend is not gleening from you or me or the teacher, we have to incorporate all those avenues
into these kids, and rote spewing, or no child left behind system, not how you assess
understanding and knowledge now. There's a whole level other level out there that our
legislatures and sometimes our district offices for tight hold on us, they want to control us but
what they don't understand is that you can't control the variable of the student. The student is
learning and gleaming knowledge, not from us, it's from the outside in. We got tap into that. We
got a look at it very progressively. Otherwise we are going to be very obsolete and preparing
these kids for whatever they're going because it's going to change. There is a turnover time and
curriculum every five years now. It's fast. And so what we're doing, are teaching strategies and
styles aren't keeping up with where these kids are getting their knowledge. So were not failing.
Were failing and that were not keeping up with the trends. I think were illiterate at understanding
how we communicate with the kids and people because they are using technology and if I don't
understand it I'm illiterate. This is the new trend of the letters A., not if you can read or write,
how they use technology. We're going to have a new definition of illiterate people because if you
can't use technology, you're going to be illiterate. You're going to be left behind. Technology is a
vehicle. If I can use technology, and master the evolution of technology I won't be able pretty
soon to understand banking, or understand certain business things, because right now most things


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are online, but checks, the mail system, everything else is going to evolve because her not going
to be using the hardcopy anymore and that's what I'm talking about. If I don't keep illiterate in
the world of technology societies like to move beyond me. So I'm going to be illiterate and
knowing how to communicate with other people, with businesses, to take care of myself. I will
become an illiterate person. But it is coming to that point where they don't know how to get
online, if you know how to pay your bills if you don't do those simple functions, you're going to
be illiterate. In the next couple of years nothing is going to be like it is now.




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Assistant Principal – School #2



Brief overview education/professional experiences

I have a degree in mathematics and I have a minor in history. As a Master's degree in education
and also an administrative endorsement. I've taught math for 22 years than I've been an
administrator for three years. I grew up in Centerville, Utah.

Given your role as AP what experiences have helped prepare you for this position?

I think I'm a teacher for 22 years understanding how teachers feel and think so when they send a
kid down I know what they expect should happen. We actually have a philosophy here at school
that the teachers deal with most of the problems of the classroom only the severe ones they send
him to the office. So I take care of those. I deal with the kids accordingly. I'm pretty fair and
consistent and try to call parents that seems to make a big difference at this age anyways it
doesn't necessarily in high school.

Describe your philosophies

well I know what's right and I know what teachers think they have a pretty good feel for that. I
was the curriculum leader at my school for 10 years. And I like to learn everywhere I go. I've
been at four different schools, this is my fourth school. They've all had great principles, and I
think I've had seven or eight different principles because the leadership changes. And I think I've
learned a little bit from each one. I learned what to do what not to do. Hopefully I'm still on the
path of learning what to do and learn what not to do. When kids come down and talk to me I try
to treat everyone the same. If I'm fair and consistent and the kids know what I'm about a lot
easier to talk to them. I have anyone going ballistic on me. I let them explain what happened,
then I call their parents, and we deal with it that way. I'm not real dramatic. I don't yell or
scream. I think everything can be handled in a precise manner. We just talk about things and try
to figure them out. Once in a while I get a parents whose irate because that's how the parent feels
and react but I usually let them talk and work it out there usually pretty good at the end of the
meeting. My beliefs have just been taught to me as I told you over the past 25 years. You just
teach and learn and do always just keep growing as an educator.

How would you describe your leadership style

I'm not really loud. I like to talk and discuss problems out. I'm pretty proactive I like to go talk to
them right after it happened or before. If there's a problem I like to go solve it as fast as possible
instead of just waiting for a couple of days I think it's better that way. I don't like to wait for
things. I try to get a feel for the school, what's going on, I walk around every day, I talk to
teachers during their preps, and Mrs. Garrett does the same thing. It's just a philosophy we have
here so we can kind of know what's going on. We have a leadership team and we meet with

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teachers on a weekly basis. We meet with departments twice a month; we try to take care of all
those thing. We also meet as an office once a week. Every team meets every Thursday at IC one
half of the building and Bobby sees the other half and then we're going to switch at the semester.

How would you describe the culture of your school

It's a culture of learning, that's what were all about. We're focused on learning and having kids
succeed. And we ask all of our question's, what's the best thing for kids, that's how we make our
decisions and we don't care if it's the same for us we are just trying to do what's right for the kids,
how to help them learn. We know we're behind in some areas. We don't have the technology,
every kid doesn't have a computer or the Internet, but we try. We have five computer labs and
two roaming labs, and we help the kids as much as we can. We tried to facilitate their learning as
quickly as possible because that's what were all about. Were all about educating kids. Like what
we have our team meetings, all we talk about are the kids. Whether it's IEP's or behavior problem
for kids that are failing our kids that are struggling, that's all we talk about for 40 minutes, so
everybody's on the same page, and everybody participates, and expresses their concerns about
that child or this child. It's great.

Can you explain what makes your school a plc

We have a lot of things. We don't just have one PLC like a lot of schools do. We don't just have
one department meeting. The school has team meetings once a week, department meetings twice
a week, we have a large hall meeting once a month, we have an xteam meeting where we bring
in other people that are involved with the kids on their team and we talk about what's the best
thing for kids, what's the best way to help them learn. And that's what we tried to get more that
just the same people all the time, like what are they doing in PE that would help us with this, or
what can we do to help you in PE. And we have a leadership meeting once a week as and
administrative staff. We talked to the secretarys all the time trying to get new ideas. And we try
to incorporate everyone. Our leadership team consists of, one math teacher, one science teacher,
one language arts teacher, our staff developer, how were testing the coordinator, and the two
counselors myself and Mrs. Garrett. The content teachers aren't department chairs and they also
run the meetings, disseminate the information, and pass the good word along to their departments
when they meet.

We have different groups of teachers we found out the first-year things went great and in the
second year for some reason it just didn't go as well as the first-year. So he switched up all the
schedules and the teacher combination and this year it's working great again. We just had to
refocus the teachers, and get them going again. We may have to do it every two or three years.
People just get too comfortable with their situation and forget what's important sometimes and
don't do as good a job at that point. With the students we try to break them up as much as
possible. We put them on the system and pack them all for what elementary state came from so
we don't end up with too many from one elementary on one team.

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How would you characterize your role in supporting PLCs

I go to every meeting if the principal or vice principal isn't there sometimes it turns into a gripe
session. I've been in plenty of those. I think it's important for us to be there to show them our
support. Sometimes lending them our experience as professional educators because we see the
big picture and sometimes they don't they just get a little over focused on their hundred kids. At
the schools where they don't have their administrators go there not as effective. They may start
out that way to something that's not a PLC after a while. I've been in plenty of those schools.

Do you believe your school you must PLCs effectively

We've tried to implement a new piece of the PLC process each year. Our first year we focused on
setting up our team meetings and doing things the way we were supposed to do. Last year they
focused on learning walks. And Mrs. Garrett and I went in every quarter and to every single
teachers room and did a walk-through, so four times a year every teacher got that. Than, we also
talked about are they writing the walk a ways on the board, were the kids engaged when we
went. Initially we were focused on the data that they have to show every time we walked in, plus
those other two things. And so we've added a component that way. This year we added
curriculum maps and all the teachers are pasting the same so it doesn't matter which class your in
they should get the same instruction. So every year we try to add a new component. It's working
great as far as I can tell.

How would you describe the relationship between PLCs in your school's adaptability to
change

We've changed a lot just to get to this point we changed our whole schedule to do what was best
for kids. They're an 86 minutes a day and math and in English so they have double the seat time
of any other school in the district so we can help them to succeed in those two areas because we
feel like those of the two areas that are struggling the most in. And I think it's made a big
difference. We have a pretty diverse group of kids, different cultures, I think we're kind of the
melting pot at our school and I think it's made a big difference in their lives. They have three
teachers that really care about them and we send weekly notes home to the parents, they just talk
about those hundred kids. It's made a big difference in their lives I think. I've had kids whose
parents have moved and they want to stay because it's the best school they‟ve been to. I've got
about 20 kids right now but did not want to leave.

How would your staff describe your role

Hopefully they would say that I support them in every aspect of their teaching. I tried to listen to
them, to console with them when things don't go right, try to figure out a plan to facilitate a



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better outcome next time. I support them in any way I can. My job is to support them being
effective teachers and educators.

Can you provide examples of how your role as an AP has changed

well, my role has become a more supportive role I think because the first-year I dealt with a lot
of discipline problems and now I don't deal with as many because the teachers take care of most
of them. And so I become more of a facilitator because I really don't have a lot of behavior
problems to deal with, I just deal with the extreme cases. The teachers call home, they sent e-
mails, communicate with the parents all the time and at other schools I've been at that just doesn't
happen. They expect the principal or the vice principal to do all that stuff. I call home but the
ones that I see to let the parents know, to ask for their support, and helping us deal with their
child's problem. The first-year I probably had three or 400 kids a quarter in the office and this
year I probably have 30. So it's a big difference. Once you have a significant adult in their life
that cares about them I think that makes a big difference in how they behave in school.

Has there been any obstacles your school has faced

I think everyone has been very supportive. I think the district sometimes, everybody else is a
little behind us. I think they're trying. And sometimes were ahead of the curve so it's been a little
difficult with the district a little bit telling them what we're doing and why. They've had to step
back and take a look at it because were ahead of what they are trying to teach and implement.

Is there anything I haven't asked

the one thing that we do really well is that we do extensions which really helps to remediate the
kids.




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Counselor – School #2

A brief overview of your professional experience

I got my bachelors in psychology from BYU and then went to work for a few years and did mine
educational counseling degree to the University of Phoenix a few years later.

Role as counselor

We've all been through teenage years, I don't know about anything specifically but, I've always
been the kind of person they want to stick up for the little guy, to protect people. You know, if I
see something wrong in any situation I'm usually going to stick up for whoever's been tormented
or bullied. My role as a counselor I am an advocate for the students to make sure that there
educational needs, everyone of them is take care of.

How would you describe the culture of your school

It's very positive. I've been to a couple of schools and we are definitely more student centered
than anywhere else I've been. The other two schools that I've been at that teachers main focus is
on, I've got to teach these kids responsibility and it's kind of my job to hold their feet to the fire.
But after coming here I realized that not everyone is like that. Not only that, but you really can't,
if you hold kids feet to the fire they don't always respond they'll just sit there and get burnt
because they'd rather have it their way than any other way. We focused more on the student and
giving him or her to the point when they can finish their work in class, he shouldn't have much
homework here as long as they work hard in class and the focus, weve turned it from why isn't
this kid responsible to what can we do to motivate this student To succeed. Overall the school
climate is pretty good. Just like everywhere we have some teachers that aren't always nice to
anyone not to students at other people too but overall it's the most positive school Ive been in.

What role to principals play in designing self-sustaining cultures

She understands that she's responsible for all of it. Sometimes I or the assistant will speak with a
school teacher about something and it's almost like they don't believe us because it's not Bobby.
Any school requires a strong leader and somebody with vision and somebody that knows what
the current research says about education and follows that. If you don't and you have somebody
that's not strong in their delegated responsibilities which of course probably just in time to time
she delegates out that that happens too often but if that happens too often she loses all power and
it becomes chaotic. She's pretty good about that, about keeping the structure, being in charge of
everything, and taking responsibility for the overall movement and climate and change of the
school.

Can you explain what makes your school a PLC



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The district has a real focus on PLCs and I don't know if they totally understand how ingrained
PLCs are here. We've kind of take in what they expect a few steps further. The most important
PLC to a student project teams that we do. We have a group of about 90 to 100 students in the
team and the team teachers meet together every week for 45 minutes and we discuss the students
that are struggling who we have concerns about, who is not doing well in this area, and that PLC,
at least I consider it a PLC because it's a group of teachers coming together for a cause, to
educate every student we can. I think that's the single most important PLC we have. We of
course have our department needs which is what the district expects PLCs to be. The
departments are expected to have a common curriculum map and to be paced about the same
several different tests within a few days of each other, the same tests. The department teams need
to be pretty cohesive, working together, everyone doing their part. In our PLCs most people are
kind of buying into that, some people still feel like they just want to teach and that's their job and
I don't need to do any of this other stuff, but most people have bought into that.

Participants will have the counselors interface with PLC

we are in the teams, every team includes a counselor, and I'm over 4 teams which includes 400
kids. We have a total of eight teams. 400 is a pretty good number. The state wants us below 350,
but 400 is actually a decent number when I was up in Jordan district I had over 500. Just from
the counselors perspective, a lot of times teachers will say I don't know what's going on with this
kid can you talk to them and you find out if there's something else going on at home. So every
week I go to four department meetings. The teams we have set up, and make the schedule so that
team teachers have common practice and so we meet during that time on Thursdays. So I'm in
meetings all day on Thursdays.

How does the infrastructure of the school influence or PLCs

let's start with the schedule we set up to give students about an hour and a half and language arts
and math and for 1/2 a year of science. Also the schedule allows us to meet together during
school hours once a week and I think if we did team meetings after school it would be much less
productive. Teachers would be skipping out early. We have on contract hours once a week where
we stay after contract hours. We are paid for 18 a year, but I think there is more than 18 weeks of
the school year. Our contract hours are from 7:15 AM to 2:30 PM and for 18 days were paid to
work afterwards and it's become and every week thing. I don't think that's the district expectation
but it is here. Twice a month we have department meetings and we also to a large department
meetings for science, language arts, math but we also include a counselor in the PE teacher and a
couple fine arts teachers. So in each of these large department meetings that meet once a month,
the focus of those is mostly to do the PLC training were supposed to do, that's the district asked
us to do. Once a month we also do hall meetings. We have the school split up into four different
halls and the halls are what we refer to as a school within a school. We try to keep the kids
isolated in those halls in the halls are asked to do activities with those kids on a semi regular
basis.

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Do groups dynamic influence the process

each team has been asked to create norms that some of the teams have even gone to the point of
printing them up and putting them in their rooms. But most of the teams just set in understanding
at the beginning of the year to come in to be common courtesy come prepared for cell phones,
that kind of stuff. But teachers, again most of them are on board with what we do, but there's still
a few. I expect Bobby in the assistant principal, you know if somebody's not doing what they're
supposed to I expect them to call them on it, to sit down and talk with them, and generally at
some point they do. Bobby and Mark actually attend all of them. They have science on
Tuesdays, science on Wednesdays and language arts on Thursday. Two weeks out of the month
it's department meetings and one week out of the month its PLCs. We refer to all of those
meetings that we do is PLCs, but what you're referring to would be the one will redo the training,
or learning about something new in education, last year it was peer coaching.

How you characterize your role

In a large groups or we do the training my role is kind effect of student. I go to the science
meetings in the science department chair heads that and they happened once a month. At
department meetings are let's just meet together and coordinate and talk about data, and our
scores, and our students are doing. During department meetings and team meetings to discuss
things like this, and they meet six times a month. At department meetings are mainly, this is
where science is moving, and or, my kid scored horribly on this and your kid didn't what did you
do to teach that. Maybe you could come in and teach my class one day, they could switch off
classes, and he could come in and re teach my kids that concept. Team meetings are more about
individual students.

Do you believe your school utilizes PLCs effectively

Yes, but I do think it may be a bit much. This is not a common school. I freely admit that. Like
Dixie middle school, I know they just kind of do their thing, and I don't know that there's any
accountability whatsoever and were very accountable. I don't know how we can do anything any
differently than we do and I'm sure that they'll be something that we see, that we‟ll pick up on.
Generally if we see a better way to do things we pick up on it and do it. I don't know right now
how he could be any more effective, or be more involved students lives than we are. This is our
third year here at Tonaquint and I was with Bobby a year for that. I think if I characterize our
school as having reached a level of homeostasis Bobby would be mad if she knew. Honestly,
what we do is above and beyond what the other schools are doing. If there is another school that
does what we do I'd like to see it because I can't imagine it. The other schools I've been to, if
they do what we did, then they would be like, what? You know.

What is the accountability infrastructure

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I don't have any reports that are due or anything like that it's the accountability that we have, and
maybe that's an area we could improve on is that the accountability that we do have likely come
to team meetings were expected to go through data and show us to are improving, and are getting
better; in reading for example. If an individual student isn't doing well we talk about it and they
can go into a Reading 180 class. I think sometimes it, what can we do to help you, what needs to
be done differently. Their are some blanket shots. If one or two teachers aren't doing something
it comes down on everybody. Does that make sense? For example, we have one teacher who was
outscored in language arts by a teacher, and this is his first year teaching. And she's been doing it
for 15 years and it's because she has her own pet thing that sidetracked language arts. And I
asked, okay, what do we do about this teacher? I would expect that the teacher would be talked
to individually. And said, look, you‟ve got to scrap all of this stuff and focus on language arts.
Look at the test scores. Look at this first year teacher, he did what he was supposed to and look
at its test scores. Your should be higher than his. I don't think that was done. All of our core
classes are split up evenly with each class having high medium and low students. Going back to
the teacher, what ended up happening was everyone was told, he can't see your pet projects, you
have to stick to the curriculum, this is the curriculum map and you're going to stick with it. And
from what I've seen she still has her pet projects, and she hasn't talked to about it. We have a low
functioning special-needs class and she has done this service learning project for a couple of
years and she has some kids go and help those students. And last year she had a preschool come
in on Wednesdays so basically on one day a week were not going to do any language arts. She's
still doing some of that and in my mind something needs to be done about it. You could teach it
in different ways, maybe not take up a whole day once a week, maybe once a month. That's one
thing, blanket potshots, you know if one teacher messes up we all get it.

How would you describe the relationship between PLCs and near schools adaptability to
change

I think so, for example, this year, we have a sixth-grade class that's come in and that teachers
have been talking about, geez these kids are so low. And to mark our assistant principal finally
threw together some data, that said, yeah, based on CRT scores over the last couple of years
these kids are low, lower than any low we've ever had actually. So we've had to adjust what
we've done. We added another read 180 class specifically for special ed students who are just so
low, in fact they're read 180 curriculum we had was even too high for them. And so we added
that class. This year we had three pre-algebra classes, we have pretty high standards for pre-
algebra classes and we just expected if you don't maintain a B. average you're going to go back
to math seven and then the math seven classes went from 28 to 33 because they had to move all
these kids out for pre-algebra. And it was kind of a scheduling thing at the end of last year. We
were right on the cusp id, either we make two classes of 45, are we make 3 of 30 so instead of
doing either of those we decided we'll take the top kids that are supposed to go into math seven
and put them into pre-algebra. So that didn't work out this year so were actually paying another
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teacher, a seventh, to teach another math seven class to all those kids they're not do well in pre-
algebra. These decisions come from our discussions in our PLC meetings from discussions.

Describe the ways in which you think leadership can have an effect in supporting PLCs

I think if you have a really strong teacher who has a vision of what a PLC should look like, and
it's probably going to work. A teacher is a leader. For the most part, if you don't have an
administrator, who has the vision, and oversees the PLC, the majority of the time those PLCs
aren't going to work. An administrator, I think, has to be there as a general rule. They're not
going to get those kinds of teachers they are very often, because it's a lot of work, it's hard.

Any specific obstacles to overcome

There's a lot of obstacles. The biggest obstacles have probably been teacher attitudes that we've
had to change. I'm kind of deciding on a format for PLCs like agendas and scheduling. We knew
that this was what we needed to do but we kind of stumbled our way through for a few years
asking ourselves, what should these look like, and every once in a while we get off track, and the
teacher at some point will get tired of the kids behavior and will start talking mostly about
behavior. And it's up to the administrator to get us back on track because unfortunately behavior
does affect how classes are taught.

Is there anything else I've omitted

They have to stick by their guns. We've done a lot of things that teachers bitched and moaned
about and I know a lot of principals of that when teachers raise a stink, one school in particular
that I know started to do, they wanted to do something like this, and that teachers set up and
faculty meeting and said, I'm not going to do this, and that wouldn't happen here. I can guarantee
that with Bobby's personality. If that happened, fireworks and hell would break loose. If you're
going to do something, then I think you have to stick by it no matter how unpopular it is, but
make a research-based so it's not just another fly-by-night trend in education.




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Science department chair- School #2

Could you begin by giving me an overview of your professional, educational background?

I went to college at Utah State University and got my bachelors degree in elementary education.
I'm currently getting my masters degree, again, an elementary education from Southern Utah
University. I am beginning my six year of teaching.

Given your role, what has prepared you for this position?

I was the department chair for five years but now I am the data Miner. To be honest, I was kind
of thrust into the department chair position, there was not a loss of leadership in the science
department that is what I teach, and I was a new teacher so I think Bobby, our principal, thought
that she needed someone just to start off the science department. So I didn't have a lot of
experience, it was kind of a new experience for me, it was a little intimidating for me, but it
seemed to work out fairly well. Data wise, I was picked to do that because of the data that I just
do for my classroom. Bobby, the principal, saw as a department leader I would share data with
my department and Bobby saw that and I think really liked it. So she asked me to kind of lead
and guide our school to do more with data. So there's not a lot of professional experiences that
has put me in these roles, it's more what has happened. I'm a full-time classroom teacher and a
full-time data Miner. It's hard at times.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

I really like this school, I think professionally we get along well, we're able to share ideas really
well. I think a lot of teachers at this school because I go to all of the department meetings for the
most part there really is a community of learners here as teachers and basically everyone is open
to new ideas, suggestions, and improving their teaching. Kind of off of that, for the most part
teachers here to get along, there's always a couple of little contentions, little things that will
happen throughout the year, as far as I know there's never been any problem with... as you know
in our school we do teaming and I think any teacher would work with just about anyone.

What role do you think the principal players in designing self-sustaining cultures of
improved change?

Do you want what I think a principal's role should be or what our principal role is? I think a role
that Bobby, our principal, has done well, is that she's constantly trying to get us to improve. And
she's constantly talking about how there's no perfect classroom, and we will never stop trying to
go to the next level. I think sometimes the hard thing with Bobby, and I would hope that other
principals do this better, is she tries to guide us too fast. I remember my first couple of years here
with Bobby it was a really, really difficult. There was a lot of contention and a lot of teachers
were saying, when is this change going to end, when are we going to be able to do just a
common assessments instead of having to add something onto it? And I think after a while


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Bobby realized, I need to slow down just a bit. I think a principal's role is the vision, where do I
want my school to be, and how am I going to get it there in a few years, because it's not going to
happen right away, it can't. And if I try to get it there too fast that's when I'm going to have some
major problems because teachers are going to throw up their hands, and say, I can't do this much,
if you go slow, I think that's what really… common assessments for us, the district is just starting
to talk about those and benchmarks but we've been doing these now for a few years. This change
is really, really simple, a natural process, and it's going really smooth. I see that the principal's
role is just to tell us what we need to be going, and give us those tools, but to do it slowly.

Can you explain what makes your school a PLC?

That's very interesting, in my masters class I had an elementary teacher talked about PLCs and
what they're supposed to be and they talked about how PLCs are not a time for teachers get
together and talk about how you taught something, and that type of thing. I personally disagreed.
I've been going to PLC training for a while at the district, and my opinion of PLC, a group of
teachers that work well together, that while they may disagree with something, their main
objective is the student and how do we improve so that the student is successful at school. And I
think at our school we do that very well. I think through these years we've really have gotten to
that point that we have different groups of teachers, our math language arts and science teachers,
we all have the same student, and we talk about those students, we talk about behaviors, grades,
everything that has to do with a student being successful. We have art department PLCs where
we talk about our specific standards, and how to improve those, that's were we really hit data,
although we hit data with both. And then we have our whole school PLC where we can get
together as a faculty and enjoy each other and talk about just basic improvements. So I really
think at this school we are doing an excellent job.

What factors of the infrastructure of this school influencer PLCs?

We do of lot with technology so are lots of our PLCs are just through e-mails. It's really nice
because we have a phone in our classroom, technology for us is huge. Even with parents, which
again, is actually another PLC, including them, we e-mail parents all the time, not that Bobby
started it, but she thought teachers doing certain things and encouraged all of us to do certain
things with technology, and now we're starting to move into websites and things like that. That to
me is really how we communicate here.

Do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?

Yes. I think our leadership team really, either for positive or negative ways, really influences
how Bobby structures are PLCs. I don't think you can have a school where you don't have some
people that are negative no matter what. And I think that can make a PLC a little more difficult.
And I know Bobby has struggled a little to know who to make department chairs based on that,
and based on different kinds of groups.


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Your principal picks your department chairs?

She does.

Is there anything that's your principal isn't involved in?

I love this school because of certain people that are here and the things that we do, if we did do a
couple of things, I would leave. I love Bobby our principal personally, but professionally, I have
a really hard time with her because of that. She doesn't have the right kind of control sometimes.
As a department chair my seventh grade science teachers were not on board with anything we
were doing, but they are of lot are now. But I did not have the support from her that I needed to
make changes and she wouldn't let me do certain things, it was just the strangest thing, and I've
really struggled with it and now that I'm not a department chair, I don't struggle so much,
because I don't have as much contact with her. I know our math Department chair is really
struggling and she‟s and excellent teacher, but she will probably be moving because she just
can't... as a department chair you have so much contact with Bobby but very little respect. I teach
sixth grade, but I taught half grade and half seventh-grade my first year has been a department
chair, and in seventh-grade they didn't teach the way I taught, which I'm not saying it's bad, there
are different ways of teaching, I‟m just much more of a hands-on teacher and so the curriculum
in seventh grade science is amazing. There are so many things that you can do. So I really
wanted to get some more hands on activities that they could do and so in our department we
talked about, let's get this, this, and this and when we went back to Bobby, because she's the one
that has control, she has to sign off on anything we might spend, she really didn't like some of
the things that we were getting, she didn't think that we would be using it very well, she didn't
want to order something that she thought would sit in the closet be unused because at that point it
was February and we knew that I wouldn‟t be teaching seventh grade next year. And so that was
really difficult. I understood her position, you don't want to spend money if not going to be use
it, but why not give these men a chance if they are excited about using them instead of assuming
that they would not. I do think she is pretty good about buying stuff if she can see the benefits. I
know a sixth-grade there are only two science teachers and we work really well together because
we teach semesters, I teach half of the sixth-graders and the other sixth grade teacher, who is my
mother, actually, teaches the other half. It's kind of funny really, my mom didn‟t teach science.
She taught at this school, but language arts, but she wanted to switch, so she switched to science.
It's really fun. For us, Bobby really is pretty good about buying us stuff. Last year I got my
technology endorsement, and part of that endorsement the district gave us some money to spend
on technology and if Bobby would give us some more they would match what Bobby gave us.
So overall we could get up to $3000. We got some Elmos and some digital cameras, and printers
for our classroom, one of the teachers got a promethean board for their classroom, and senteos
with smart responses. So we got quite a bit with that. Bobby had a really hard time giving us
money, but she did eventually. I think she would've, but part of the problem was just moneywise
in the district. The district froze all of our budgets last year and money was just really tough. I
think if it had been another year it wouldn't have been so difficult. So for my mom and I. she's
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really really good. I know for this seventh-grade, they ask, and ask, and ask for a couple of things
and they still don't have them.

How would you characterize your role in supporting PLCs?

I think I have a pretty big role especially with data. I really think, we have two department
meetings a month after school and one of those I have gone to the department leaders and said I
really need this one for data so that we can look at data and talk about data. So for me I have a
huge role. In science, and our department meetings, again, there's only for science teachers, so
the four of us have a really big role here and we really get along well. We have a really good
department. So with regards to PLCs I'm really high up there. I'm on the leadership team half of
the time so there is a lot that I do, I feel like.

Do you believe your school utilizes PLCs effectively?

I do. I really think, and this would be really hard, there are some people who do make it difficult,
there are some math teachers that make it difficult to have an effective PLC because they are just
negative, they don't want to do anything beyond this. It happens in language arts as well. It even
happens in science. I think that just an attitude change for some people could really help. I think
at our school just the structure of the PLCs we do that pretty well, and I don't know if anyone can
change anyone else's attitude.

How would you describe the relationship between PLCs and your school's adaptability to
change?

I think the relationship between those is pretty high. I think we come together as a leadership
team talking about the things we need to do and the things we want to see. And department
leaders take that back to their PLCs and they talk about there, the decision is not made in the
leadership team, it goes back to the department team and it's really talked about there and
decided if it's useful, if it something we can do, I really think those play a huge factor with each
other sometimes I feel like Bobby is telling us something that we have to do and we have to lead
our department in to doing what Bobby tells us, and make it seem like their idea, I don't know if
that's a bad thing, I think that's how life works. Make people think like this is their idea in the
first place so that they're happy to do it.

If Bobby was no longer principal how different would the school be?

A lot different. I would hope PLCs, I know for myself it would still work for me, I would still
meet with my different PLCs, my team, my department, those would be valuable to me, but I
know that their are a lot of teachers that would be like, no one is here to make me do what I'm
supposed to do so I'm not going to do it, it would fall apart. Specifically the math department, it
would fall apart. I was actually just talking with someone in my data mining meeting and they
were saying, another intermediate school, the language arts and math departments are ready to go


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and are doing so well and it just that science department that's really struggling. And I said,
really, at my school, I know I'm biased, but I know from my data that the science department is
the strongest and I know if I go to the science team and say let's try it this, I know they will.

What's the difference in the leadership styles between your principal and assistant
principal?

I once told Mark, our assistant principal, that I would follow him where ever he went. I respect
him a lot. I think his leadership style is a little more my style. He asks my opinion a lot more
specifically about students and if I have a problem with student he‟ll call me up and get my side
of the story and he'll say, okay, what do you want to have happen? And before Mark, Mark has
only been here for three years, our vice principal was not at all like that. He was Bobby's pet.
And it's hard now because I don't think Bobby likes Mark because he will stand up to her a little
bit and there are a lot of teachers here that don't like Mark, a lot, you basically like him, or you
don't. You like him if you don't like Bobby, and they don't like him if you like Bobby. I don't
want to say he's quiet, he's subdued. And Bobby is very loud, I mean you could hear her even if
she is just talking from a mile away. And smart is just quiet, calm, and a very rational. Bobby
will fly off the seat of her pants if someone calls her and says, oh, I heard this, and she'll freak
out and I probably don't like that about Bobby because I probably do that myself which is why I
like Mark, he brings that out in me more. But he doesn't really have any role in our school. Not
even a little bit. And I can imagine from Mark that it would be very difficult. I know when he
first came there were times where I've felt so bad for him because I think Bobby is rude to him
sometimes. He does not want to be here, he's applied, and applied, and applied, but he said to, I
don't even know who was that it wasn't me, maybe it was to my mom, he just doesn't see himself
in able to get any other position because Bobby's not well respected in our district. The reason
why people stay at this school, is because of our PLC. Because of our cross curricular team we
share students, we share pre periods, we talk to each other, we‟re all about the students and I can
not imagine a teacher and not being about students. And that's what the school is about, its in our
mission statement, that's what this school is. Aside from that we get these great 86 minute pre
periods to really plan and prepare and yes we do meet as teams during that time. If we didn't do
that stuff I can't imagine many people stay with Bobby even though she is the one that created
the system, and it is very unusual, but she drives us nuts. That's also a district perception. Brian,
one of our school counselors, a couple of weeks ago, I'm telling you, our program here at school,
our scheduling, people would die to come to this school for that reason. I have science teachers
all over the district will we get together that are like, do you have in the openings? It's out.
People know, parents know, that this school is awesome. As Brian said, he went to a principals
meeting a few months ago, all of the other schools would do were doing if Bobby weren't so
annoying. If she didn't push too hard. She pushes so hard, and talks so great about what we're
doing, that I can imagine, I would do this too, when someone comes to me and says, oh you have
to do this, I'm such a great teacher, and I would say, no, I'm good. I'm not going to do what you
say to give you validation. And I can imagine that that's what the other schools are thinking.

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there are five other intermediate schools and this area. I have never not had Bobby as a principal.
She's always been my principal. Part of my personal belief is that you struggle the most with
people that you have the most in common with. And I don't want to be a Bobby. Also,
administrators everywhere, get comfortable in their role, and forget what it's like to be a teacher.
And they forget the things that we have to go through, and so they tell us we have to do
something, and it doesn't work for us. And Bobby is getting to that point where she needs to go
back in the classroom for a year or two and remember what we are doing. We used to have this
school where every single sixth-grader and the county came to, and it was called Woodward.
Bobby worked as a vice principal for a long time. Lots of the teachers here as well as at other
schools, worked at Woodward. Woodward was basically condemned because it was so old, it
was the old high school, my grandpa went there when he was in high school. It was an old old
school, it's now where the district offices. They tore down one building and rebuilt there. From
that point they kind of split off, and the principal for Woodward went to one school and Bobby
went to the other. At this point, everyone loved Bobby and not very many people liked the other
principal. And he got a lot of good teachers because people didn't really like him. Lava Ridge
was the school he opened, and Bobby created desert hills. From there, she had this core group of
teachers, that have just followed her and most of them are still here. One of Bobby's strengths is
loyalty, she is loyal to people, and this also is a problem. If you are a terrible teacher, you still
have a job, because she's going to be loyal to you. So it's both good and bad, because she is loyal
other people are loyal back to her. I was hired halfway through the year while I worked as a
substitute teacher, that teacher quit, so I was hired. I don't know how good of a teacher I was, I
probably wasn't that good that year, but Bobby being a loyal kept me on and I hope she hasn‟t
regretted that decision. But because of that, they all followed her from desert hills. There were
only two or three teachers that stayed. That's part of our loyalty here. We've all been on the
journey with Bobby. We saw where we started, and it's not good, and we've seen the growth, and
we've seen the progression, which is a good thing, and yes, there are problems with our
administration, but I think at this school it's one of the only problems. And I think a lot of people
stay because we like who we work with. Also, my perspective right be different, because I
worked so closely with Bobby and leadership for the past few years as the department chair and
now as the data person. Other teachers to work that closely with her, not that they don't see her,
because they do, but not very much.

Describe the ways in which you believe leadership can have an effect and supporting
professional learning communities?

She really does give us good time to meet. The scheduling of our PLC meetings is really, really
nice. This is part of our frustration here at Tonaquint that due to high test scores some of the
highest in the district. The only other intermediate school above us is Sunrise Ridge and they
have, I think 1% resource students and 0% Hispanic students. And our English language learner
numbers is like 25% and we have a high percentage of resource students and our scores are
adequate to theirs. So it's frustrating for us that Bobby can't make them see that we are doing

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something right. And it's frustrating for us as well that the district doesn't see either, and were not
getting the recognition. We got a huge award a few years ago, nationwide, and we had a huge
party, the governor sent us a video message to show everyone, it was huge, and the district was
15 minutes late to the assembly, we had parents, the newspaper, the NewsRadio, TV stations,
and the district people arrived 15 minutes late, sat up on the stage and texted the entire time. It's
frustrating for us. We don't think that we get support from our district at all. And again,
sometimes I'm frustrated at Bobby because she can't get us to support. Bobby really is fun but
she can have a frustrating personality sometimes, she pushes, pushes, pushes too hard. We
weren't getting support from the district so we decided to go over their head for a nationwide,
well respected community, and it wasn't even questioned, they came down, went to our school,
and said you're getting this award, we don't even need to come back. The district just doesn't
care. From our perspective.

How has your role changed with the implementation of PLCs?

When I first began as a science department chair, I don't have a quiet personality either so I was
never quiet about what I thought, but I don't think I really understood Bobby‟s vision for our
school. And the four years that I was the department head I think I really feel like I fell in line
with Bobby and I understood where she was trying to get us to go and my attitude changed about
that. And even though Bobby frustrates me I understand her vision. And so that's what really
changed for me. My attitude changed and I would think by my attitude changing I was able to
help change my science departments attitude because they were our worst department for long
time, and they are not now. So I think that's how my changed. Also my role changed just by
having more experience. Bobby could talk to me more. I'm sure trying to do this as a second-year
teacher, I don't know what's going on, and Bobby was probably thinking, I don't know what
we've done to ourselves, I would think that I could be someone that Bobby could trust more.
When I have suggestions and our leadership meetings I think that they're listened to a little more
now than they used to be. This year I really do think Bobby has done better at giving us our
space and our time and I know she has her frustrations with us as well like last year with our
achievement meetings she didn't like the direction we were going there, there was a lot of
complaining about students, and just discussing behavior problems and this year she told us, we
really need to focus on a lots of data, and which students are struggling, and not behavior, you
can do behavior at another time, because she does, this is something that I disagree with Bobby
about, to a certain extent, she really believes that all kids care about their education, and I really
believe that 95% of them care about their education, there are a few that really couldn't care less.
There here purely for the social aspect of it and they couldn't care less if they fail every class. So
that's something that Bobby and I have had words over. But it is interesting what I've noticed this
year as were trying to focus on data and how they're doing in our classes and what we are
teaching, and how we can help each other, and things like that, our behaviors are improving. I
know that student that had behavior problems tend to do worse in school, or they have behavior
problems because they don't do well in school, and they're really frustrated so... so that's

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something that I think Bobby did a really great job in saying, you know, you are not having good
conversations here. We need to refocus, we need to go back to something we were doing before,
and I've noticed an improvement this year.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

I don't know if this is my school, I do feel like teachers have a lots of safety. If they don't, I mean
once they get to a certain point, if they don't agree, there's not a lot that can be done. If they don't
do what they're supposed to be doing, it's hard to get them out. And I know that's been a
frustration for Bobby; we have one or two teachers here that the whole entire faculty would like
to see them leave. But there's not anything that we can do about it. And I know these teachers
have been put on probation, but they've always managed to do enough to get off probation, but
not enough to really make it okay. And that's frustrating for me. Maybe the word is
accountability. There is very little accountability for teachers. Yes we have these PLCs, but for a
teacher who chooses not to come, what happened to them? We have a part-time teacher, and
every now and then she just won't come, and when she does, she brings her youngest son, and it's
very difficult and it's not for me she is in the math department. This teacher is unfortunately a
favorite of Bobby's and so nothing happens and it's frustrating for us as a faculty no matter
whether that department, you see this happening, and nothing gets done about it. And I don't
think it's all Bobby, because I know that Bobby will sometimes talk to these people, because
there's more than just this, there's a PE teacher that anytime we have any kind of meeting he says
oh, I have football practice, but it does it doesn't start until 330 and were out of school at two.
You have an hour and a half, but no, he has to go. There is very little that can be done about that.
And it's frustrating. If that were to happen in the real world, you wouldn't have a job. That's a
hard thing for me because you put your heart into these types of things, the PLC meetings,
because they are great, and I think they make you a better teacher, but not everyone else does.
And I am a pretty good teacher no matter what, and if you don't have to do it, why should I have
to do it?




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7th grade Language Arts – School #2

Could you begin by giving me a brief overview of your professional, educational
background?

This is my second year teaching, second year here. I started as an intern last year so I had student
teaching experience last year, and then just jumped right in as an intern. I got my degree from
Southern Utah University, a degree in history with a minor in English. I just graduated in May of
2008.

Given your role as teacher, what experiences have helped prepare you for this process?

I think up until I was about an eighth grade colleagues wanted to work with computers. And then
I started to realize that working with computers than doing a lot of math and I didn't like that. So
I actually do I want it to be a teacher sometime around the age of 15 and I just didn't know the
subject. It was actually in high school that I got into English and I do when I graduate from high
school and I wanted to be an English teacher. And then when I got to college I found that I liked
my history classes more so I switched my major, I was originally an English major with a history
minor, so I just flipped flopped them. But as it turns out, by the time I graduated, even though I
enjoyed history, I'd rather teach English, it seemed more fun to teach, and that's what I ended up
teaching. So worked out for me. I thought this study what I wanted to study, and that teach what
I want to teach. Social studies is combined with language arts here so the emphasis is definitely
on the language arts because that's what we get tested in but when we do our informational text
we are teaching the social studies curriculum as well. We were reading textbooks for reading the
Utah studies textbooks, and her reading newspaper articles about Utah for our informational text
and stuff. So it's great Utah studies for social studies.

How would you describe the culture of the school?

It's very team oriented. We've all got our department's that we be with about twice a month and
then we've got the group where they've combined some departments together that we meet with.
And then were cross teamed every language arts teacher with a math teacher, and a science
teacher, and CTE teachers that rotate in and out as the class changes. But we are with the same
core content teachers all year. So everything is done in a team, and the department, in a
classroom. The cross team group meets every week, we have all the same kids. So all the kids
just kind of move around in their self contained Hall's. It's very team oriented is how I would
describe the culture here. So for example, on a hall, you're going to have four teachers, two
language arts, one from sixth and one from seventh and two Math, one from sixth and one from
seventh. And then he'll also have a sixth grade science teacher in the seventh grade science
teacher is upstairs, directly above us. And there's also a CTE teachers those teachers that do shop
and business and that's a six week course so those teachers rotate in and out every six weeks. So
just three teachers and one administrator and one counselor is assigned to Hall A. that's just what
I think of when I think of, Tonaquint, we just have so many teams, and obviously, with your

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team, you have all the same kids, and you also have the same curriculum, so everybody's trying
to be on the same page. I will say, and maybe this is just because I'm new to this school, and a
new teacher, I know that they administrators are very good and the staff developer is very good
about going into classrooms and observing. I don't know if that's only just for us new teachers,
but I think it's for every teacher. Just a quick walk through their classrooms once a month. A
principal or the staff developer comes through and just write down what they see, again I'm not
sure if that's just because I'm new, but I think every teacher gets that. I think they do a good job
of keeping track of things. I know we have some policies like walkway objectives posted on the
board. Every teacher has to have their walkway posted on the board and every teacher calls it a
walk away and so when kids go from class to class they know to walk away is what I'm supposed
to learn today. It's the instructional objectives and we put it in kid friendly terms, you are going
to do this by the end of the day before you walk away from the classroom. So again, the entire
school is on the same page there, so the administration is just trying to make sure that everyone
is doing the same thing. The idea is that if kids need to go from place to place and when they step
into a classroom, it's not completely foreign to them. We are all expected to keep contact with
the parents in a weekly e-mail, but I don't know how well that's being done. I know we've missed
a couple of weeks in our team, but were pretty consistent with it, but I know it's something were
all supposed to be doing. It helps me because I'm in charge of the weekly e-mail, and I put my
spelling words on it every week, so for me, it's really helpful for the parents. One person from
each team e-mails the information for both teams. It tends to rotate from person to person each
year. Last year where we started doing it towards the end of the year and I noticed an increase in
the kids spelling test scores, when the parents have The words right there every Monday. So for
me it helps, but I don't know how the other teachers feel about it.



What role do you think principals play in designing self-sustaining cultures of change?

Bobby, the principal, really stays on top of things. She gives us the edicts from the district and
she also has her things that we do like the teaming, the walkaway's, she also make sure
everybody's doing it. She really keeps on top of it. She attends every department meeting, we
have the department meetings staggered so that she can attend all of them. Each department
meets a different day of the week. And then, if she sees something‟s not going on, she will
remind us, you've got to keep doing that. Also, team meetings, we have administered their. Mark,
the assistant principal is with our team, and he is there, and voices his concerns too. For example,
if we're not doing something Bobby, the principal, wants us to be doing, he'll let us know by
saying, hey you need to be doing this, and report back. For example last week, Bobby, the
principal, wants us to be remediating in their classrooms, that's one of the reasons we have the
double linked class times so we have time to remediate in the classroom, it's another reason why
we have to teams so that we can decide, this person needs some extra help. And I guess Bobby
was concern that we weren't getting that remediation done, so last week Mark, the assistant
principal, told us, I need you to type up, and submit to me, what it is exactly, your plans are for
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remediation. And so, based in top of us to make sure things are getting done. As far as designing
and creating, I don't know what the principal does, or how she comes up with the stuff she does,
but as far as making sure it's implemented, they do stay right on top of us.

How did you and your team decide on your remediation techniques?

And our team, or just remediating in the classrooms. We got that extra time. I know that what I'm
doing is that I'm taking one concept, or one literary term and I'm teaching that for a week. I
introduce it on Monday, on Tuesday and Wednesday we read things, and as we read I point out,
you know, where in this passage we are seeing that. On Thursday I incorporated into or
informational texts and Utah studies. And on Friday, I review and have a little quiz on it. So, I'm
making sure we cover it five days a week, to make sure the kids have it by the end of the week.
So, that's just what were doing, or doing it in our own classrooms. Other teams I know actually
have established Friday as remediation date and they divide up the kids, this kid this week, needs
extra help on math, so, they spend an extra class period in math, and some kids spend an extra
class period in language arts. So they divided up so the kids get extra time.

How do you ascertain that someone needs extra help?

By their performance in class, observing, can answer the questions, are they struggling with their
assignments, how much help to the requesting. That helps us to see if they need help. We have as
departments common assessments and we administer them once a month. And they switch off,
one month they'll be reading comprehension, and the next month it will be vocabulary that we've
talked about, literary terms and stuff, and next month it will be reading comprehension, and so
on. We actually have the results from the tests set up on spreadsheets on Google documents
where each of us puts in our own information, and then schools data Miner and the principal
have access to the data. And as a department we can look at it and say, for example, our first
reading comprehension test the kids bombed it so we looked at the questions, and said, you know
what, these weren't good question. So we were able to learn how to make better tests. At least
that was one thing it helps us with. One teacher in the department had made it, and it had never
been administered before because we didn't do this last year. Apparently she took them out of the
test bank, and I don't know what bank it was, but the questions are extremely difficult, the
average score was like 66% and when we teachers took it we were scoring around 78 or 80% so
we thought, this is a poorly written tests. When we showed the question stored data Miner she
actually said that the questions we used were some that had been rejected by the state test bank,
so this next one we did another teacher just found passages and wrote questions for each passage,
but the main idea, what happened first in the story, and that test when a whole lot more
smoothly. So we were using the same objectives which is some passages that were more
coherent I guess. The questions really in the first tests were boggling, when we read them, even
as teachers, we were thinking, I have no idea what they're trying to say here.




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How do group dynamics influence your PLCs and how are they managed?

That's kind of a tough question for me because I'm a pretty laid back guy, there are very few
people I don't get along with. I did work with a different team last year, and they are very very
different people. This year, Dan and I, he's a laid back guy too, so we go about doing our own
thing. When we have problems with kids we've talked about it, we talk to each other, we've tried
to figure out interventions, but that's about all we do. Last year, my team teacher was very
outgoing and energetic, and she was always wanting to do this project, and that project, and so,
as the team we did more activities that brought the kids together, you know, we worked on
incentive programs together, and this year we're not doing so much of that. We're doing our own
thing, and then we're trying to work out interventions together. So I know its personalities
because the dynamics of the team to change. For me it hasn't been a problem. I can work with a
lot of different people. At the end of last year, when I found out that I was switching teams, I
thought, I wish I could just stay a little longer on this team. I like the team. I think we work well
together. But as a new teacher, I think it's also helped me to know, I'm already experiencing how
different people handle things it's a whole new perspective, get things from my tool bag.

I would you characterize your role in supporting a PLC?

Well for starters, I'm the one who does the e-mails to parents, so I need to stay on top of that to
make sure that parents know what's going on. That's probably my biggest role besides the
teaching I do in the classroom. To make sure that the parents know what we're doing in all of our
classrooms. I also, being the new guy, with the least amount of experience, my role has actually
been to say, hey what I do at this student? Are you having problems with this student? Because I
need ideas. So I'm usually the one who initiates the conversation to talk about students. What do
we do? I guess that would be my role there. Dan, is the team leader, so he's the one that kind of
takes charge of the team meetings.

Describe the ways in which you believe leadership can have an effect and supporting
successful PLCs?

Talking to people who don't teach here, who don't have the teams we have, they seemed to think
it's really kind of a stupid idea. And I think people bought into it here, because Bobby the
principal has pushed it so much. So I think in creating the PLCs, the administrators really need to
make sure that everybody is on board, because if they don't do that, until everybody buys in,
people are just going to blow it off. I could totally see if Bobby didn't push it so much, and if we
didn't have the scheduled meetings, and if you just said, you decide when you have your team
meetings, if we didn't have an administrator there, I think a lot of people initially, when she first
started it, would've thought, we don't need it this week. And I don't think he would've gotten
going. I think, from what I've seen, a lot of people tend to not want to work with the PLC, and I
think the administrator needs to make sure that everyone is on board. What I found here, I think
there are very few teachers who have a problem with it. There may be one or two, you know, that

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I've talked to, but most people really like this idea of the team, but I don't think it was like that
initially.



If you went to a new school to you think he would try to implement the practices of the
PLC?

I think it would be a lot harder, because at every school not every kid has the same math teacher
or the same language arts teacher. You'd have to track down the other teachers and get
information from all over the school. It would be much much harder to do if I were really
struggling, definitely, I don't want to keep suffering if I don't have any ideas than I want to find
out something, but it would be a more difficult task, definitely.

Is there anything else you'd like to share or that I've omitted?

I think the hardest thing is just getting started with it. We all want to do our own thing, have our
own autonomy in the classroom, and I think a lot of people think, when you're working with the
PLC, it takes that away from you. But from my experience I've found that it doesn't really. If
anything it just gives you more support because you know someone who has the exact same kids
that you do and they've got them in a different environment, and you can see, is that my
environment that's causing them to act this way? Are they fine in other classes? Or is there
something else going on? So the biggest thing I think, is to just keep an open mind and actually
just get it started. If you shoot it down the very beginning, you‟re not going to find out what it is,
just like any new idea, if you shoot it down, and don't have an open mind, you never want to find
out if it works or not.




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6th grade Language Arts – School #2

Could you begin by giving me a brief overview of your professional, educational
background?

I graduated last year from Dixie State College that elementary Ed program. I graduated with an
ESL endorsement and during that time the Dixie State College and was involved in an internship
program called to C program where were placed in the school for the year and we do or student
teaching there as well. And I was actually placed at this school. And prior to that, I'd packed in
here also. So I've been here a little while. So it's my second year here at school, but my first year
teaching independently.

Given your role as teacher, what experiences have prepared you for this position?

My internship has been huge because I already know a lot of the ways about how this school
works. Honestly, the C. program at Dixie College is the best program that there is. We spent 3
1/2 hours a day in the classroom the entire year and then turn their student teaching were here
full days. And so I spent an entire year, not just once school starts, but when the teachers are
setting up their classrooms were here too. It made a huge difference in my ability to prepare. And
knowing what to do and when to do it. So, it was huge. Also, obviously my personal life. My
family helped me deal with the children who have nontraditional family struggles. Things like
that have helped me deal with their emotional problems. My family said a counter example, so
when the kids are going through divorces and things like that I can say, it's hard, I know it's hard,
and I'm not going to say you're going to get over it, but she'll get through it, and I'll help you.
And that's typically the biggest problems kids are facing because they're transitioning from
elementary to intermediate school, and when they had family problems, it compounds everything
because there are so many changes all at the same time. So those emotional problems are a huge
deal probably always.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

Honestly, it's like a family. I work with a team, and were required to meet every Thursday, but
we meet daily. Honestly we talk together every day and we call each other about everything. So
if I have a student that I actually have to remove the classroom and sent to another classroom I
call the science teacher and say, you know, you're going to have him next and he's having kind of
a bad day, he forgot his medication, or whatever so that we can prepare for it in advance. We
look out for each other. I mean honestly, I never feel alone. I actually had a problem with some
students this year, and the whole school just caved in and helped me. They just came and lifted
me up and took care of it and walked me through it. The support is amazing. We meet as an
entire hall once a month but again, we meet more than that usually. I usually meet with my hall
quite a bit. To discuss if there's a problem in the hall, or if I see some seventh graders who are
struggling with behavior I usually pull someone aside and say, hey, by the way, I saw so-and-so
do this. And so it kind of helps them keep an eye out. Because we're all in the halls between

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classes. You didn't be amazed at the trouble that kids can find walking down the hallway. Every
now and then maybe a little intervention.

What role do principals play in designing, self sustaining cultures of improved change?

Bobby, the principal, has amazing leadership skills. She just takes it and says, this is what we're
going to do and I know it's going to be hard, and some of you aren't going to like it, but we're
doing it. So I'm here to support you, and these are the things that we would do to make sure that
it happens, and that it works smoothly and if you have a problem come talk to me. So we're
doing a lot of push in this year. We don't have any pullout classes for a special ed kids and it's
been kind of hard because we have co-teachers come in sometimes and as a first year teacher and
still trying to establish myself as a teacher and I have to bring in a co-teacher and plan together
for one class.. Sometimes that's a struggle. So I can sit down with Bobby the principal and say,
this is not working for me. Have you talked to other people that are experiencing success and
what are they doing so that I can do that? She's really good because they meet with the teams and
her Mr. Cottle the assistant principal they discuss what their once doing so she has a pretty good
foundation of everything that's happening in the school, what's working and what's not, so she
has a ton of suggestions. And she's always willing to come in and observe. So if she'd asked that
we use data to drive our instruction she comes in and looks for data. He should have data
displayed on your walls and although that doesn't mean we're using it gets a lot harder when it's
up on the wall and the kids say what does that mean? So she does little things like that that
encouraged us to move forward. She's constantly looking for ways to better our school. And if
it's not working, she'll say, okay, I realize everybody is struggling with this, how can we break it
down? She's really good at that.

Can you explain what makes your school a PLC?

Our school is a professional learning community and it's all about teamwork. Our teaming is
phenomenal. I went to an elementary school and I didn't experience the same thing. I was also
hired at a charter school locally and their teaming with set up so differently. It's just so
supportive here. I meet with everyone all the time. I meet with our language arts department and
they're willing to meet with me anytime outside when we're supposed to meet. We discuss our
curriculum. We have curriculum maps that are aligned. And we talk about what's working and
what's not. We sit down and grade papers and do consensus grading on our essays and our
writing which helps me specifically as a new teacher to make sure that I'm grading the same as
they are. We do a ton of working together. I mean, honestly, it's the teams, and setting up things
and teams that we can work together. Also, we are always trying to integrate each other's
subjects, which really helps with my professional development because I can learn what they're
doing and science and she'll help me figure out how to apply it to language arts and it helps with
integrating and everything. We integrate in to our bell work. We usually have a math story
problem or something that they are working on in math so we can go through it. It helps kids see
it from another perspective. And then we do vocabulary work in science and then when I do

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rotations, I haven't done rotations for a couple of weeks, I have a math or science Center where
we do some troubleshooting with math and science.

What factors of the infrastructure of the school influence your PLCs?

Our meetings are huge in making sure that everybody is on the same page. We have an agenda
before we get to the meeting so that we know what we're talking about so that we can come
prepared for anything that we're going to talk about. Generally the department chair sends out the
agenda. Also, they are really good at communicating changes to us. We get e-mails daily about
anything that's happening, or needs to be changed. If there's something that comes up, we hear
about it that day. It's never a week later, it's usually addressed right away. Were required to send
out weekly e-mails to the parents to communicate to them what's happening, what the week has
in store, which also helps our school. At the end of the year they have surveys for the parents to
communicate back to us things that are working in things that aren't. Last year, they requested
more homework, surprisingly. So that helps drive what we do this year. Well, we looked at the
data from our survey said that maybe we need to change a few things. So we focused on that this
year.

How was the survey information conveyed to the faculty?

It's actually given to us and a printout, charts, scores. And we took a look at all the graphs and all
the question and what it meant. We discussed this information in faculty meeting. In our PLCs
we discuss data, test scores from our monthly common assessments and we graph the data, and
compare data between classes not in a competitive way, like obviously, this is working for you,
what did you do? And then we share in our PLC meetings. All teachers attending this department
meeting are language arts teachers, for the whole school, so I would come in with my language
arts data and talk to all the other language arts teachers about our data.

Do group dynamics influence your PLC process and how are they managed?

Yes, group dynamics definitely do because some teachers don't get along. Some people don't like
each other. And sometimes, as happened last year, a couple groups that were working amazingly
together and some groups weren't. So Bobby the principal makes it out. She switched everyone,
and everyone was a little bugged. And it worked out really well. She shakes it up when it's
necessary and not everyone is happy about it when it happens but it works because you can be
with the group and it works well but if there is a group struggling how good is that for the
school. I'm working with a math teacher that got switched last year, and he's loving it. We had a
great year. He wasn't happy in his last setting so it's worked well for us. I don't know too many
people at this point in the year who are still angry about it anymore. But I don't generally get into
it. I kind of stay back. But yeah, it's good. I totally agree with it. It works. A professor once told
me green things grow and ripe things rot. So if you get too stuck in your routines things go
downhill. We know that this school is great. We are great because of our teaming. We stand out
from the rest of the district. We do different things and every other school in the district. There's

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nowhere to go when you would have the support that you have at this school. So people won't
leave. I can't imagine people leaving. Honestly, there is a lot of respect for the administration and
a lot of faith, I guess, would be the word, that they know what they're doing, because it works.

How would you characterize your role in supporting PLCs?

I'm good at collaborating. I like to share things that I find. When something is not working for
me I go and talk to people about it. And talking to people about it, brings up discussion that helps
them as well as me. Usually, we find an idea that works for both of us. Honestly, just
communicating with other people would be my strength. I'm the idea person in our team, that's
what they call me.

What's an example of an idea that you've shared?

We were talking about service learning right now. Were going to do a big service project in
December and were coming up with ideas for our end of the quarter activity. We always do an
activity for team building for our students at the end of the quarter and I decided not to do a
movie but that we should do a service project. So, I'm getting the Marines to let us come and
wrap toys and things like that.

Do you believe your school utilizes professional learning communities effectively?

Yes. One thing that doesn't lie is the data. Right now, this year we're focusing on the data. And
due to whatever the data presents us, we adjust. And that is huge, I think. A lot of times you can
say, oh, it's going well. But unless you can actually see it on paper and graph it out it's hard to
understand the impact of what you've taught. It worked, if it didn't. So I think that, um,
definitely, it's helping. Also, ESL endorsements are going to be required by the district soon and
Bobby, the principal, told everybody, you got two years, get endorsed. And she brought in the
classes, so they are actually being taught here, and people could take here, there ESL
endorsement. She said the staff developer up to get certified to teach it. So, that's one thing, I
mean, they bring in whatever we need to be able to do that. They've sent numerous teachers to
get their technology endorsement which brought in a lot of grants. It's very supportive to keep
going to school, and to bring back and share with the rest of the teams. The teachers that didn't
the technology endorsement last summer have done several presentations on what they learned,
and the tools available to us. And they're working on getting grants to provide other things.



How would you describe the relationship between PLCs and your school's adaptability to
change?

When things change, and it's hard, and you don't like it, it's nice to be able to go back to a group
of peers, I would say, this sucks, I hate this. And you can complain about it for a minute, and
then say, alright, it does suck, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to do this?

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And then you work at it together. In other schools that don't have teaming I don't know how you
would adapt to the change. Because we all come together and say, okay, now we have to do this.
All through this part of it, and you do that part of it, and we're going to work together and it will
be a lot easier. So working together in a professional learning community, with our language arts
Department for example, they redid our curriculum map, and we have to follow a curriculum
map this year for the first time. They actually did it before the district mandated it. And, it was
hard. And so us sixth grade teachers started meeting once a week and said what you doing, what
are you doing, and as we started meeting, it got easier, and then make a breakaway from that. But
it provides support. We can change better because we have each other to help us with the change
and to utilize each other's resources to facilitate change.

Describe the ways in which you believe leadership can have an effect in supporting PLCs?

From the administration we know that were expected to be at these meetings and were expected
to contribute. And their presence shows us how important they are, because I've never been to a
meeting for I haven't had the principal or the vice principal for both there. They never miss.
Someone is always there representing the administration. It shows that they care about it. That
they're willing to invest their time in its too. And so I think their leadership in that regard, and
being there, and preparing for it, helps us see that it's important to them.

How has your role changed?

This year we're talking about data. And so we actually have a format for our team meetings. We
have an agenda, I printed out the form for what were supposed to talk about at our meeting, and
it really helps because we have set norms like we have to start on time and end on time, things
like that. And then the first things that we have to address are, so what's happening in your
classroom? And how are they doing? And how can I help? That's what we talk about first. Last
year, I noticed we get stuck just talking about student. He's such a behavior problem... now we
talk about what they're learning. And that is huge. I have found that we get a lot more
accomplished in our meetings because we're not just isolate our students and spending all of our
time on that which in turn, will we talk about the students, it's more specific, and more
constructive. So, it also helped in integrating, because I know every week what they're working
on, so I could pull it in and they can pull it in. So I can say, this week were working on
paragraphs, so could you have the write a paragraph in your class. And they do. PLC team
meetings have really helped us know about what each other is working on who is struggling with
what, and what we can do to help.

As your school experience and the obstacles in the implementation of PLCs?



Probably people who don't get along. If there are a couple of teachers who don't get along it
makes it really hard for PLC. If they despise each other though, they'll come, they'll show up, but

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they'll do anything not to have to talk to each other. I've seen that. And what happens usually, is
that Bobby, the principal, fixes it. And then it's better. So I guess personalities would be the
challenge their. Some people are take charge, and do everything. And that makes it hard on them
and their team because their team doesn't feel part of it. Sometimes, for example, if I were to go
on with Bobby, the principal, and say I can't stand my math teacher, he's driving me crazy. She's
going to say, all right, what can you do to deal with it? What do we need to do? Do I need to talk
to him? Do I not? She is a confidant. We can just go in there and say... this is what's going on.
But she's not go and tell them. She may tell us the best way to handle it, or sometimes the staff
developer can get pulled in on it to see what she thinks, and help us that way.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Maybe just the difference I've seen with my friends as first-year teachers the differences in
experiences that we've had. We all met and went to lunch the other day and there drowning and
they're scared that they don't know what they're doing and they feel frustrated that they don't
have enough stuff. And I'd just say, you know what, if I don't have something I just walked next
door, and say, I really need to teach summarization, what do you have that would work for me?
They don't feel comfortable doing that. Because we meet in so many groups, and with so many
different people I know so many more people, and have more resources. It may be personalities,
that I'm not afraid to ask, but I feel like I have a better relationship with faculty here than a lot of
the other first year teachers.




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Math 7th – School #2

Background of professional/educational experiences?

I've been teaching for 12 years. My wife was in a Masters program for speech therapy out in
Illinois and at that time I had my degree in math and wondered what I was going to do with it so
I decided to take some education courses and one of the education instructors was a principal in
the small rural school with about 120 kids and she said she hired me as an EOC extra ordinary
care aide and I commuted about 40 miles down to this little town. It was a great experience. I am
an accidental teacher really. From there I decided to go into teaching. I didn't have certification
so I applied for a job down in Florida because they would take people who were uncertified right
into the classroom, a special program that had down there. It was inner city Tampa Bay which
was an experience it was a magnet school, but we also had an inner-city, neighborhood kids in
their which was an eye-opener. I spent two years there and from there came out here at St.
George. Got a job with treatment centers here in town working with teenagers out of control. Did
that for five years. It was a great experience. And then from there, I came here. And that's how it
progressed. Kind of a, not a real traditional way of doing it. I've had great experiences along the
way, and it set me up well for doing this. We ended up in St. George because my wife is LDS.
Florida is a great place to visit, but she wouldn't want to live there. It's rough. It's very low
income. You get a lot of white trash out of long island, ny. They all thought they were going to
go to paradise and get a good paying job but all they could get was minimum wage in some or
all live in trailers. It was rough. But touristy parts are fantastic, they have great beaches, but to
live there, it's rough. They have all the old folks who are retired, and you have the young folks
going to seek their fortune, it doesn't work out so well.

How would you describe the culture of your school

We have a community where we provide the opportunity for any kid to learn no matter what
their level is or what their need is. I get feedback from the parents, and they complement us on
caring about the kids. We have 600 kids but it seems like were able to get to know the kids one
on one which is tough to do in a large school. We watch the kids, we get to know them. We work
in small communities, each of us teachers only have 90 kid. When I have like 200 kids like I
haven't other schools. And I spent a lot of the day, you know an hour and a half with each group
of kids and that gives you an opportunity to find out what's going on, say hello. For example I a
girl in my class this morning she was out yesterday and I said hey, Hannah, we missed you
yesterday. Were you sick yesterday? And she burst into tears. And I said, oh, what's going on.
Apparently, she‟d been to court, there have been some trouble in the family, and if it had been a
big group of kids, and never would've had that opportunity. You can make connections with
these kids that you can't at some of the other schools. Culture I think, is that we care about kids.
We care about them, get to know them, and through that were able to meet their needs a little
better. With regards to the faculty the way that the building is set up, the structure of the building
is not great, because there are teachers I don't see for weeks and weeks at a time. I have a

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teammate who teaches my kids language arts and because of the physical structure of the
building I don't see him too often. When I was at my Florida school there were four of us core
teachers in our classrooms are right across the hallway from each other and we had a room then
we ate lunch together in an we were a lot closer that way but we weren't real close with the kids.
So in that regard, it's not as good here. But were limited because of the structure of the building.
They put these buildings together they don't consult with those people that are going to have to
work in them. They are beautiful, their wow buildings when you see them from the outside and
he walked in, but functionality, and someone else may say something different, but functionality
is, the classes are way too small, to put 35 or 36 kids in the classroom it's just not, their tiny.
They made them really really tiny, and the way the halls are set up you don't have anyone across
the hall from you. We can't step out of the hallway and talk between periods or run over there
real quick. In Florida we had adjoining doors within the classroom. It's not because of the
personality of the teachers. When we get together we are all very well, but were limited by the
structure of the building.

What role do principals play in designing self

She plays a large role. She's the leader. We have meetings every week and she's involved in all
these meetings. She does a great job. She has a leadership team that she meets with every
Monday. She meets up with department heads pretty regularly she does a great job getting
information out and providing us with the training we need or she thinks we may need. It is easy
to get information to her and she as a great job getting information about us. She is very forward
thinking and what she wants to do. We do things here at this school that the other intermediates
don't do and our test scores show at. Our schedule is set up differently than everyone else's, with
these double periods, which is really good for the kids, and really good for the parents. It's a win-
win situation for everyone involved. The other schools are resistant to it, they're stuck in their
box, and don't want to look at doing things differently. To make things better for everybody.
Bobby does a great job of letting us know what she needs and vice versa. Her job is way
different than mine and she does things that she needs to do them for and I don't always
understand why she does things. Teachers make that mistake. They'll complain about their
administrator and not understanding that the beast they have to fight on a daily basis it's just not
compared to the beast that we fight. She's got to deal with things from the people above her that
we don't understand and may never understand. I have everything I need to make my job happen.

Can you explain what makes your school a PLC

We are broken up into team, Bobby calls them communities. We've got our halls, we've got a
team of seventh graders and a team of six graders on each of our hallways. Seventh-grade
teachers have the same kids, we've got small groups of kids, we've got double periods so my kids
come to be rather than 43 minutes a day there with me for 86. That right there I think it's crucial
into what were able to do here. We're with our kids and their core periods for twice as long than


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any other kid that we know of in the area. They're just doing far better, and test scores are
showing it. We get training. We have weekly meeting.

How does the infrastructure of the school influence your PLCs

we send a weekly e-mail to the parents. In the old days we really didn't have a lot of
communication with the parents. Unless you sent out a weekly sheet of paper and have the kids
grade on it. In the old days I think we would send it out every two weeks as a team. Nowadays
we send out a weekly e-mail that gives them an update on what we're doing that week. And it
really puts the onus on the parents and kids. It takes the pressure off of us. The kids would dig a
hole and the parents would come after you after a month or two with guns a blazing wanting to
pick a fight with teachers and this completely eliminates that. You got that regular
communication so that parents know what's going on so there's absolutely no excuse for them to
take your responsibility for what the kid is doing. You know parents will come after me
sometimes and say and I'll say, well, you're getting these weekly e-mails, you've got access to the
computer and grades are updated Friday when I walk out of here, you're responsible for one kid
and I am responsible for 90. And I don't put it in that way, but you keep track of what you're one
is doing, they've got no, it just keeps the negativity away. Everything is positive. Very, very
positive situation when you do that.

Do group dynamics influence the process

They definitely influence the process because every one of us that teach seventh grade math is
doing the exact same thing but in our own different style and method but were all on the same
concept within a day or two of each other. We can share that way. For example, today I had one
of the other seventh grade math teacher sitting in on my class watching to see if she could pick
up anything, to help her class and she teaches. There's a lot of sharing going on.

Who‟s covering her class

Bobby pays for us. Anytime we went to go sit in a class, Bobby will get a sub for us. I was
always told us, even if you want to go to another school and observe other teachers at other
schools she'll provide a sub for us. She is great as far as that goes. Anything that's going to make
things better, make any of us better. We also do what we call learning walks were groups of us
will walk around and spend 15 minutes in the classroom and go from class to class. Sometimes
I'll just go in another classroom during my prep and just sit there and watch. They are always
great about sharing, or bypass them how are you teaching slopes, or something like that, and they
say this is how I do it or they'll ask me, there's a lot of sharing going on. And Bobby is open to
anything. She's very open minded, open to any suggestion. Flexibility is important.



Do you think your school is using PLCs effectively


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Yes. Our kids are enjoying school, they're happy. When I first heard about our 86 minute class
periods I thought, oh, that's going to be tough, but the nice thing about that in the 86th minutes
you change, you do three or four different things during that 86 minute period and that 86 minute
period is over in no time. You finish it and looked at the clock, and say, oh my gosh, time went
fast. And the kids don't have homework because of it which is great for parents. I don't assign
homework because we are in there for 86 minutes and there is time in the classroom to do it. As
long as the kid is working the whole time I don't care if you get anything finished as long as he
has half of the thing done, the kid has spent 86 minutes of the day learning and doing math. So
what's the point of sending him home, as long as he's getting it. The way we hammer at them,
you know, they get reviewed every day, they‟re taught angles three times in that period, they're
getting a lot better than they would have in a regular 43 minute. Or a block schedule where they
get it every other day. Any kid at any level is going to benefit from this kind of setup. I do a
review of what we did before, and I teach a new concept and teacher in the way, you know, I use
whiteboards, and I'll say, to this problem under whiteboards, and if theres 36 kids I‟m waiting for
36 boards to go up and if you don't know how to do it put a question mark. And you could see
the same kids if they're not doing it right. Once you've done that a couple of times, assign them
their assignment and check what these kids that aren't doing well. You've got the assignment
going, and as the fast kids are finishing up, you switch gears, and do another activity that
involves that same sort of topic. And at the end of the day you wrap it up with another activity
with that same sort of topic. These kids are doing a lot better in this type of situation than and
small, short periods with large classes.

How would you characterize your role in PLCs

well, whatever is decided as far as what the principal decides, and our department decides it's my
job to implement whatever they decide to go with. We meet regularly and we discussed will
want to do, and to give suggestions, and input, and complaints, whatever it may be, and the
leaders take it to leadership meeting, and they discuss it, and we go from there. We all have and
input, some more than others, but I think everyone is listened to. If you've got a valid point and
what you want to do makes sense, people listen.

How would you describe the relationship between PLCs and your school's adaptability to
change?

Yes what we discuss in our team meetings is put into effect. We don't have any trouble, I talked
about the flexibility earlier, as far as the principal goes, if somethings got to be done, were all
pretty willing to make that move. We don't have any trouble, change is good. And you've got to
approach it with that attitude. Some of the sixth-grade teachers experienced quite a bit of change,
someone from language arts and math, and you know, when you find out you're doing something
like that, it's kind of a shock, because it's going to be major work, to make that switch over. But

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once the change is made, it's running very smooth. Those teachers all appear to me to be very
happy, and are doing their jobs very, very well. The principal made a change for a reason, and
that change needed to be made. The principal has to deal with these knuckleheads at the district
office, I don't, and she does a great job at keeping them at bay. And that's the way I look at it, she
does a great job at keeping them at bay, so that we can do our jobs right because the district, I'll
tell you what, you want some honesty, you want to talk about Miss management. I think the
school board is a bunch of amateurs, they don't know what they're doing. The principal has to
deal with things, and she has to make decisions that I won't question because she's had to make
these decisions based on her own experiences and feelings in people don't always realize that.
but I'll tell you what, they have no idea. Here's a good example, last year I split the kids up into a
boy class and a girl class. She let us do that. Once I explained to the parents what was going on
and why, they were very supportive. The parents loved it. The boys loved it. The girls hated it. I
had a teammate who was against it from the start, and as a result... it wasn't accidental thing that
happened with us at our other school. Our kids are kind of divided up based on what they do for
music so for example right now I have kids who are in the orchestra. So was three years ago that
this happened. All the kids that were brass, so I end up with this class that had 34 boys and two
girls. So I said to my teammate at that time, let's just put all the girls are one group, and then
we'll have a mixed group of boys and girls, and then we'll have a group of just boys. So he
actually ended up with two groups that were mixed, we had three classes, two classes that were
mixed, and one class that was just all boys. Just because of the numbers, and that group of boys
was the best group, they outscored every other class in their end of the level test scores and they
were just a great group of kids. My teammate at that time, the language arts teacher she was all
for and supported it. Last year we did it again, at my suggestion, and I had a teammate that was
against it right the beginning, just not open-minded. So we went till Christmas time and then we
mix them all up. I would do it every year. It's very good for boys at that age, especially at that
age, sixth graders that are real cute and compliant and then seventh graders will we get them, it's
a weird year for kids and they are going through these weird changes, and awkward behaviors,
and inappropriate behaviors between boys and girls in the classroom is not the place for them to
learn how to socially interact. And Bobby, the principal, was fully in support of that, so as far as
change goes, she's open to some big changes. Nobody that we know of in this state has done
anything like that. To me it's a no-brainer. At the treatment center the kids were all split up, it
makes sense, and those were teenagers. The point is I don't think I could've been at any other
school and gotten away with that. Some of these other schools are so unwilling to change. They
see what we're doing, and they still won't change. But the results when used with these boys and
girls, it was clearly obvious. But there was resistance here from teachers if there was something
going on in the class, it got blamed on, because they were all boys together, or all girls together.
They say, it wouldn't have happened if... oh, BS, it still would've happened, it happens anyways.

Can you describe ways in which you think leadership can support PLCs?



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Listen to suggestions, be realistic and what they decide to implement. Make sure it's doable, and
think outside the box be example is the boy girl class. If you get someone to do that, that's huge.



Have I omitted anything?

No, I don't think so. I hope that kind of helps.




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6th Math – School #2



Can you begin by giving me an overview of your professional educational experiences?

I went to Weber state for four years and that's basically it, except for all the continuing classes
I've taken, at least one every summer. This is my 20th year teaching.



Given your role as teacher, is there anything that has prepared you for this position?

I think the best thing that's helped me is once I started having my own children in school, and
seeing some of their struggles because you can't understand it all until you have your own child
there. So that's helped me more than anything, just trying to understand different ways that kids
learn. And I haven't always taught math. It's just been these last five years. You name it, we
taught it. In sixth grade to teach whatever you're told to teach, so I've taught language arts, social
studies, and science.



How would you describe the culture of your school?

We have Caucasian students, we have the Spanish influence, and we also have Native American
and, what are they called, Polynesian, anyways. And I think we do a good job at trying to
understand their background, their traditions, their customs, so that we can work with them
better. I think the school culture is very excepting. In my classroom the kids treat each other very
well. It doesn't matter who, or what, I have seen them just be very accepting of all of them, but
out in the halls, during lunch, I don't know.



Can you explain what makes your school a PLC?

I think we are always striving to do what's best for the student. So we spent a lot of time
collaborating with our teams, with the people in our halls, so that we are all trying to make sure
that everyone is on the same page as everybody else. And besides trying to learn different
methods and do all that other stuff they asked us to do, I think it's just about being concerned
about the students, and making sure they're learning. To me, that's a professional learning
community. Not getting all of the extra classes, and doing all of the extra training, it's about
make sure that we are helping the students.



What factors of the infrastructure of this school influence your school's PLC?

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First of all, it's because we have a schedule that really to adapt to that. We're in teams, so I'm
scheduled with my copartner. We have prepped at the same time, so we can talk all of the time
about either our curriculum for our student so that were always understanding where they're at.
So that is the biggest thing. We have a schedule that allows us to do that.



Do group dynamics influence professional learning communities? And if so, how are they
managed?

I think most of the time we set up our norms at the beginning of the year and we just stick to one,
and off we go. We haven't had much, I don't know, I guess in my group we haven't had any
significant problems. People know what the norms are, and that's fine.



How would you characterize your role in supporting PLCs?

I participate, and then if they ask me to do something I get it done, and hand it in. Unfortunately,
I think PLCs are getting a little out of hand. The things that the district are required of us makes
me feel like I'm in an elementary school. I have to have this checklist, I have to do this, this, this,
when they can't realize that I'm a professional, and I know what I'm doing. I don't need to show
all of this evidence of it because I do it. This year it's changed, it's ridiculous. The paperwork, it
came from the district, and I think someone's pet project. So we had to jump through all these
hoops and I just keep thinking, we did all of this last year, we do this all of the time, were just
having to talk about it, and to make sure we have our paperwork, and all of that which we
already had. So I guess I'm saying, I just don't like being held to a little checklist when I'm a
professional and I know I will do it. If you don't do it, you don't teacher pay, and you can't opt
out because I thought year, I'm going to opt out of this because I don't need. The pay is not worth
the stuff that you have to go through. Reviewing all of this every time, and I thought, we do this
in our team meeting, so why are we having to do this in another meeting. And on, and on, and
on,... we get a stipend twice a year, if you jump through all of their hoops.



Do you believe your school utilizes effectively and in what ways?

I do believe we do, but it depends upon your definition of PLCs because I feel like it's my team,
and then it's my department and then from there it goes higher up. So we do have our team
meetings, our department meetings, our hall meetings, we're all talking together about
everything. It's nice to communicate with everyone because we have like end of the quarter



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activities as a hall, not as a team, as a hall. So we like to get on the same page as those. And
everything else like that.



How would you describe PLCs and your school's adaptability to change?

Well, its kind of like you just do it. You just do it. What can I say? If they say were going to do
this, then you do it. And it seems like every year we're doing something a little different. That's
just part of being in the teaching profession. You're always changing.



Does meeting together and looking at student scores in your PLCs, does not help you
address this ongoing need to change?

Oh yeah. Yes, we're doing that continually.



From your experiences over the last 20 years at other schools that maybe haven't had this
type of organizational model, do you think they were as effective?

Probably not as much. Yeah, probably not as much.



Can you describe the ways in which leadership can have an effect on supporting PLCs?

Well, first of all, their support is making sure our schedules are set so that we could work
together. If we didn't have that, we couldn't have our professional learning communities. It's just
a lot easier the way it's scheduled out. And they have to support us with that because they are the
ones that do the scheduling. They come to our team meetings so they can hear our concerns and
if there's something we are worried about that they know a little bit more about through the
district will be able to give us guidance and help in that direction.



Can you describe examples of how your role as teacher has changed since the PLC
program started?

Yes, it used to be I had a subject I taught, and I just had my set of kids, closed my door, taught it,
and I was done. So that's what it used to be. And now, it's basically, I'm working with all of the
people in math to make sure that were all basically the same place. And then, I worked with one
other team person, and we have the same kids, so we can talk about a concern. Before, it used to
be if I had a problem child I had no idea who the other teachers were, so now we can work

                                                 185
together as a team so that's a very dynamic. It's very nice because we can actually come to some
consensus, and we could work out some sort of a plan, or something for student to hopefully help
them.



Can you describe some of the obstacles your school has overcome and initiating and
sustaining PLCs?

Yes, but it's been so long that we've been doing them for so many years been trying to think what
we did have to overcome. The first thing was the schedule. The second one was trying to make
sure that if we came together and we have a or having problems with, then we need to come with
some sort of a plan, so that we can work together to try and figure out how to help. And I think
that has been very dynamic. Because you don't come and just say, oh, this student is giving me
problems, but I don't know what to do. You have to come and try to figure out, or ask for some
suggestions, and if it's not happening in another class, we can talk about it, and try to figure out
what is setting them off. It's been very dynamic that way.




                                                186
Principal – School #3

Could you begin by giving me a brief overview of your professional/educational
background

I had a composite biology major. I graduated from Southern Utah University in 1994. After that
I accepted a teaching position at Pine View Middle School for six years. During that time I went
back and received a Masters in degree Education and a year later I went back and did my
educational leadership endorsement. And then directly after that I applied for a job as an assistant
principal at Snow Canyon high school which I was fortunate enough to get and I was there for
five years and then I applied for the position here and I've been here for three years.

Given your role as principal, what experiences have helped prepare you for this position?

Well, the experiences I‟ve had that have helped me with this; the classroom teaching has been a
huge part of that. Obviously experiences as an assistant principal and dealing with a lot of
conflict resolution, student conflicts, parent conflicts, different things like that. I loved the
assistant principal role and my principal was really good to give me educational roles as well,
you know, so it wasn't just 100% dealing with problems. I was over student achievement and
things like that and it helped me grow quite a bit into this role. My core academic background
and having the opportunity to focus on student learning and test results as ways to help students
improve; different things like that. My philosophy lined up quite a bit with a professional
learning community, not just teach, test, move on regardless of what the results were. I thought
the end of the level tests were a reflection on me as well as my student so naturally I wanted
them to do very, very well and so just saying, “sorry you didn't learn it, wasn't the way to do
that”. So my philosophy has a lot to do with time, time for learning, time is the variable, giving
students more time to learn the concept rather than saying, “sorry were moving on.”

The number one most important thing is that students learn. Basically we're here to have students
be successful and learn essential skills, not just academic skills; life skills. There's certain
essential standards that students need to walk away from this school knowing. We have a
determination that all students will meet that standard and that not all students can meet that
standard at a given time so we try to offer a lot of extra time and for support interventions. We
want to improve our teaching practices, find better ways to identify students who are struggling,
use more formative assessment or pre-and post-testing to measure growth and things like that.
Our philosophy is that we're going to be relentless in our determination that students will
succeed. That's good for students but sometimes it's difficult for teachers. But I've been blessed
with a phenomenal staff that's embraced our philosophy and our desire to help students learn. If I
didn't have the staff that I have it would be really difficult, but their phenomenal.

How would you describe your leadership style?



                                                187
I think I lead with my heart. I've been at schools where the principal got up and said, “were
going to do this because the district office is telling us were going to do it.” My leadership style I
guess is just a focus on those things that I truly honestly believe in. I get up and tell them my
philosophy of how I want the school to look and I honestly believe that the professional learning
communities model, and I don't want to keep saying professional learning community model, I
want our actions to show that we‟re a professional learning community rather than just running
around saying that where a PLC. I think I try to lead from the heart I care about my teachers, I
care about my students, I want all of us to be successful.

How do you convey that?

In my words and my actions. I mean it has to be that way. If my actions represent something
completely different; if I go out and spend money on things that don't represent my values,
people are going to see that and think I‟m just offering them lip service. We have homeroom as
one of our interventions and I asked teachers to check students grades and call students aside and
talk to them about missing assignments. But rather than just sitting back and hoping that that
gets done I'll pick a homeroom class once a week and I'll review what that homeroom classes
grades and then I'll go up to that class and I guess you could call it modeling but I'll know
everything about every kid that's failing and I'll pull that kid aside. I do that for a couple of
reasons; just leading by example to show them exactly what I want done; modeling exactly what
I expect them. I've done this type of modeling in classrooms where it hasn't been done as well as
it could be and it serves as a reminder to teachers what our focuses is at this school and what the
purpose of that class if for.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

Let me best describe it by giving an example that's one of the things I'm most proud of. And I'm
not saying anything negative about any other schools, but we‟ll have kids check in from other
schools that have had struggles at different schools and one of the neatest things that I hear from
those students, and it‟s happened multiple times, is that everybody cares and they're so
accommodating and they're so helpful, and they're so nice. I think the teachers not only have a
desire to help, but they love the students and in turn the students really care for the teachers. The
kids treat each other well. We don't have a lot of discipline problem; little nicky nackey things
here and there but I think our culture is one of respect with a desire for everyone to be successful.

How did you establish that?

I don't know? I think I'm fortunate in that I'm the first principle that's been at this school and I
was able to hire people with personalities and philosophies that matched what my desires were
for this school. Also, it interviews I expressed my goals and desires and expectations for this
school so it was a nice time to be able to pull on people that have the same attitudes about kids
and learning and helping kids be successful. You know I'm also not one who likes to jump from
to fad to fad. I jumped on this professional learning communities idea and every year in
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professional development, staff development, and opening faculty meetings we go over the
philosophy and concepts, constantly reminded them. I don't just add any new things, other than
maybe suggestions on ways to improve upon the essential questions.

So this is what we've done and I'm really proud of this. I'm not moving away from this, but what
I want to do is reflect and say look at this, what can we do this year that‟s even better. These
things help, and these things, not so much, how can we do better? So, staying focused, on the
things we want to accomplish, rather than on the flavor of the month.

When did you buy into PLCs?

When I was at Snow Canyon, that's when the district began to institute the PLC concept. And
that's where I started trying to develop collaborative groups and common assessments, they were
baby steps there. But having gone to the conference and having seen some of the great things that
could happen in some the departments, and as I mentioned earlier, it was so closely tied to my
beliefs and philosophy about helping students learn that it wasn't a far stretch for me. You can
call it whatever you want, but it's just really good not just good teaching but good practice, good
for students, good for faculty, and so wasn't hard for me to match that with my own philosophy.


What role do principals play in designing self-sustaining cultures of improved change?

I'm not a doom and gloom kind of person. I'm an extremely positive person. The first thing I
said to the faculty was I'm not a negative person, I can't stand negativity around me, I don't want
to walk into the faculty room and hear people bashing on kids. There's going to negative things
around us, and we have to deal with them, but even though there's negatively, if we do the very
best job we can, it may very well mean that things might be a little more difficult but we just
need to look for another way to accomplish the same task. Whether or not there's challenges
ahead of us, there's always going to be challenges ahead of us, and we need to think of a positive
way to overcome those challenges. They know that I‟ll support them in any way I can in their
challenges. Meeting together in groups and sharing the workload, looking at student achievement
together; different things like that, lesson planning, seeing that it‟s not harder or a more difficult
task, actually, if it's done right, it should be a less stringent burden for a teacher. Having done
that same thing and said that same thing, I still think it‟s best practice. Showing examples of how
it can work, and being positive about those things, talking about ways we can solve problems in
a positive manner, rather than just saying were doomed, this sucks,…there you go 

What do you do if someone isn't on board in other words how do you manage someone who
might have a different philosophy?

No one's been out right defiant to me and said I'm not going to do that. An example of what I've
had to deal with would be someone who thinks that because they've been doing something for so
long and now things are different, that they think they're on board, they think they‟re doing what

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they need to, but the old teaching practices, what a traditional school would allow and what some
teachers would do in isolation, would not be accepted, and I just have to go and remind them
what the expectation of this school is here, and how it's not an appropriate teaching practice. I
believe that that is better for student, I don't think a zero motivates a student, I don't think a zero
is a true reflection of a student's grade. My philosophy is, what is the reason for homework? If
it's for practice and to help the students learn, if they don't turn it on Monday, why would you not
want them to do it and turn it in on Tuesday if the true reason for homework is practice and
mastery of skills, that's the philosophy of the school. I think there needs to be some type of
consequence for students who don‟t do it on time…If I don't pay my mortgage, they don't just
say forget it if it wasn't turned in on the 30th, were not taken it on the first. They want it on the
first, but there's a penalty. Same thing with late work, but the penalty needs to be appropriate as
well. If the work is done well and it‟s just a day late, would you mark it 50% off if it took that
much longer to master that skill. If there's a paper and it‟s turned in on time and it's a crappy
paper compared to somebody who took a little more time to master that skill and they get a lower
score, but it‟s a better paper, there's something wrong with that in my opinion. And so those are
the challenges that I've had to deal with, not outright defiance.

Where does staff development fit into all of this?

This is our professional development schedule and basically Monday's are our professional
development days and they‟re mapped out for the entire year. Sometimes it will change if I have
something I need to talk to the staff though.

How do you predetermine what you're instructing them on in these monthly meeting?

I know some principals plan out what they're going to address way in advance, but I wait to see
what the issues are. We have a PLC implementation pacing guide and so basically a lot of times
I'll review or talk about different things included on it. This year we focused on formative
assessments and so I try to throw in a 10 minute deal on formative assessments and then I might
have teachers share examples of what I've seen in the classes I visited. A lot of times we talk
about interventions and how those interventions are working and ways to improve those
interventions and then just build on those things; “is this working, give examples of things that
are working?” Sometimes I just ask a couple of departments to take a few minutes and I center
their presentations around PLC's things: show me some of your pre-and post tests in common
assessments, how you'd use data to intermingle students, where you‟d improve your own
teaching practices or areas where you‟re working on inner collaborative departmental items,
things like that. I don't always know in advance what the faculty meetings are going to be on. I
do know some of the issues I was just talking to you about with regards to my concerns on
different grading practices; it‟s what led up to my faculty presentation at our last faculty meeting.
The gist of the message being the appropriate punishment for not doing the work is, doing the
work. And I reminded them of the interventions that we have and how we have dedicated that
time to pull kids in to intervene. At the last faculty meeting we had the departments try out the

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new intervention that was working in one of the classes I saw and because I liked it I wanted
them to share it. I didn‟t exactly want the other departments to copy it, but just to see the idea
and the philosophy behind it; what they were doing. For example, they give a post test and the
kid doesn't understand it; well, we‟re not done with those kids. So the idea was to show similar
and yet two different ideas in which each department would have to figure out a way in which
they could incorporate it into their own department. I try not to overwhelm them with a big, long,
boring presentation. I don't give them an hour and a half that‟s just drilling them on grading. I get
in and try to plead my case for why this is important and the why for doing something
differently.

As you can see I only meet with them once a month. The whole idea is that the math teacher or
the Spanish teacher isn't going to benefit from sitting there and listening to me more so than
being in the department group collaborating about the best ways to teach their own content.
That's really our professional development schedule; they're learning from each other, and
they‟re sharing with each other, to improve as a group to become better teachers in their
discipline. That's our professional development plan. The stuff I do once a month is meant to just
help keep them on track with that plan and keep them focused on what we believe in as a school
and making sure we are continually improving as a professional learning community. So those
are what my meetings are. They probably think I‟m a broken record but I‟ve tried to present the
same concepts in a different way, in a somewhat motivating way. I know it warms my heart so I
hope that it warms theirs  Really, the plan is to get departments working together to achieve
common department goals and my stuff is just, well, most of the work is done within those
departments, not really what I do.

I get the minutes from all the department meetings and on occasion a department chair will come
in and say we‟re meeting. The four of us are doing this and one of us is not as strong of a
member of the group, they‟re going through the motions but not really understanding the true
meaning or purpose of it. It's more of a hoop to jump for them. Some of it's a conflict with
coaching, the coach has a full plate with a teaching schedule and then they're trying to slip in this
collaboration piece. There's not a ton but I have on occasion had to go and remind them that this
hour on Monday is sacred time and there's no activities that should be scheduled during that
time; curricular or extracurricular. This is time for us to meet as a department. I've never actually
sat down and written anyone up, but more often I‟ve had to approach one of them and say this is
a concern, and then shared my desires of what I would like to see their team become, and have
them be a part of. And then I send them on their way, pat them on the rear  and hope that it
improves. We have some high functioning teams and they're doing phenomenal things. But I
have a few teachers that I wouldn't say are resistant to it but that haven't caught the true vision
yet. And I'm just trying to help them come along. I'm almost through the whole faculty taking
some of them to the PLC conferences. I‟ve taken the majority of the teachers, English science
and math and history early on. They were the first group I took, the first year. Here's an
example. The people in the history department that are functioning as the team are those that I

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took as a whole department. The one member who is new to the department that didn't go and
reflect, and I kind of think I'm this great presenter and they should understand from my
presentations, but there's something different about going to one of those conferences and
listening to presenter after presenter talk about what the school is doing and best practices. And I
tried to get that, but I don't have three full days either to do it. So some of those people that are
not as into it are, well part of my plan is to send them to our next one. I have a list of who's
going, and now I‟m trying to determine who would be the best for them to go with. I've been to
multiple and I come away with feeling like I've learned a lot even though they are the same type
of presentations.

How have you paid for it?

School trust lands. By accomplishing certain tasks as part of the PLC grant, they usually use that
money to send the teachers. Mostly its school trust lands money. It's not really a PLC grant. The
district says if you accomplish these tasks we will give you such and such dollar amount to help
you further your efforts in building a professional learning community. Every school gets it. All
you have to do is complete your actions plans and within that plan you have to established CSIP
goals and an action plan of how you want to accomplish your goals. And once they accomplish
that, then they give them us the PLC grant money and I've always used it to send my teachers to
conferences.

Can you explain what makes your school a professional learning community? (i.e.: what
does it look like in operation and what are its attributes?)

I just had my administrative evaluation and this was one of the questions. I think definitely a
focus on learning and a focus on student achievement and making sure that students master those
essential concepts is one huge step towards becoming a PLC. Teach collaboration, common
pacing and curriculum standards, basically working together. If you look at this flowchart you‟ll
see that collaboration is a big piece of this PLC and becoming better through collaboration,
establishing standards, good instruction, and then dealing with the assessment piece that helps
drive instruction. So we have a great source of collecting data. I can't say enough about Mr.
Reese; taking teachers results, giving them something that's easy to read, easy to manipulate,
easy to see what concepts are being taught effectively, what students are understanding and not
understanding, and then using that data to drive instruction to help plan interventions. Basically
to answer your question we really tried to hit on those essential questions; what we want students
to learn, how we‟re going to help them understand, and what do we‟re going to do if they don't
understand it. There you go  You try to celebrate success. We also try to enrich curriculum but
I'd have to say we focus on the essential questions maybe a bit more. We are on the PLC
journey.

What factors of the infrastructure of this school influence your PLC?



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Scheduling is definitely a factor because we have to, part of the intervention is to provide time in
the school day rather than before or after the schools day. So that is a definite obstacle. So
basically what we did was create a study period, or an advisory homeroom that fits within the
school day that every student has that can be used for studing, silent sustained reading, different
things like that, but the major purpose for this great intervention is that it allows teachers to
attend to students who are struggling in math and they can receive intervention during that time.
If a student fails that math test and doesn't quite understand it they receive intervention during
that time period and basically all we have to do is take a few minutes off each period, so instead
of an 84 minute period it's a 76 minute period.

Let me show you our intervention pyramid. Tier one, for the entire schools usually has to do with
teachers and helping all students learn the material. If the student winds up in tier two are this is
where we use the instructional strategies we've developed and intervention strategies. They have
math enhancement as an option . Here's an example of how we've improved over the years, our
study skills class. If our students are struggling in math we take them out of an elective class and
place them in a study skills class. With this we were able to give them extra time, but not extra
support because the teacher overseeing the class wasn't a math teacher. All we did was give the
student more time not understand what he was doing. It was beneficial for kids who weren't
using the time effectively and were motivated because we helped him get assignments done, but
not the kid that didn‟t understand the material. So the next year we created a math enhancement
class and it actually had an instructor who took the class so it was almost like double math. The
math instructor met with the math enhancement teacher and they mirrored each other‟s
assignments and it's been successful. They also have guided studies, read 180, extended
advisory, and whole school-wide interventions.

Where did these interventions come from who created them?

We developed them as a school to help students. We read various intervention books, went to
different conferences, saw what different schools were doing and basically adapted parts of what
they were working on and molded it into what was good for our school. What fits here doesn't
always transfer to other schools and what we thought would fit from a different school didn't
always fit with our school. The things that really helped our kids we picked up on them and then
we ran with it. I think part of it was knowing that we needed interventions to help students;
recognizing what those problems were, and that's not just Brad and I, teachers, department heads
counselors. The new kids who struggled in math; when kids struggled in reading, what are we
going to do to help those kids? We know that kids aren't always going to do their homework. So
we went to an intervention specific PLC conference, it wasn't just the whole dog and pony show,
just the big picture, it was it was a three-day intervention conference. We took a team, sat down,
and we got to hear all these examples of what all these other schools were doing. Solution tree
put it on. It was in San Diego. Then we took what we were doing at that point, shared what we
didn't like, then the group shared about the pyramid of interventions and what every other group
was doing. Then we were able to do a parade. We went from place to place, and one person
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would stay and share what we were doing, and so you got a feel for what the other schools were
doing and we were able to find some things that we could do. And so we brought it back and
presented to the faculty and discussed some of the things I thought would work and/or things we
thought might not work…but overall it has been great. I think we get buy-in because it's
something we‟ve asked them to really focus on and if they need extra assistance to be successful
in their classrooms, we have a way to give them that extra assistance. All we‟ve really done is
just explain to them the process, that there's are kids struggling in their class and that these
interventions will help the student be successful. That's not to mention the individual department
interventions and those are the things that the individual departments are creating, such as letters
we are sending home. Math is probably the biggest intervention we have.

Sometimes the interventions that happen in the departments are better interventions too in that
we don't have to place them in one of the remediated classes. This is the information that Mr.
Reese gave me. They're starting their intervention this week. And it's going through the different
information on the students who struggled with certain concepts. They divided up by teachers.
It's a block assessment, like a unit. And then there's different teachers teaching different
concepts. This chart actually shows the content being taught by which teacher. They selected a
teacher who had success in their own class teaching the concept. They're the ones running better
the mediation sessions. And to take it one step further, I would hope that those that have the
highest scores in a certain area will also share what they're doing in their class to teach the
concept so that the other teachers can also benefit.

So, for example the science letter that was sent to all the parents is also sent all the teachers.
Here's an example for math. Same concept. And also, a follow-up letter. We also send out a
language arts letter to the faculty this week so that they get an idea of what each other is doing.
That's how they learn about each other's interventions. They may not get all the specific details
but they know the concepts. The letters may vary but the concepts are the same. Before the
department sends them out though they always come to me and discuss it with me.

How would you describe the relationship between PLCs and your schools adaptability to
change?

I think that as teams get-together and they collaborate and they experience success; student
success, that change takes place within them. I guess maybe I'm at a disadvantage to answer this
question because this is what we started with. I've been extremely impressed with some of the
things I've shown you here some the interventions that we‟ve used. I've talked about
interventions in tier 2 and home rooms, but these things aren't programs I've mandated. They
come up with them. As departments, we have decided that it's extremely important that those
students learn this information so teachers are coming up with interventions, they are making the
changes on their own. I think we've lead them towards change and encouraged good practices
and praised it and celebrated it but this isn't something I came up with. It‟s something the
departments came up with. And it's been a big difference to what the norms have been in our

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schools. And I'm quite proud of them. That they've had this desire to make changes and this has
been a big change here for us. My school is very adaptable and willing to change and try things
and see if they work. And if they don't work, go back to the drawing board and try something
new. And if those do work we try to build on them and help it become better. I think it's a
combination of things. By diving in and trying to be a PLC wholeheartedly that really
contributed to it. But it's a fact of doing multiple things and were trying to become great in
multiple areas that are influenced by PLCs and by doing those things and experiencing good
things happening, people are more willing to change because they see the benefits of those things
happening. And I can't say it‟s because of my motivational speeches … it‟s the departments
meeting together and talking about things; how PLC things are going and they‟re witnessing
dramatic increases in student achievement on interventions that we are doing that gets them
excited and helps kids get excited just making that change makes it much easier because they
understand the importance of it.

How would your staff describe your role in leading, initiating, and supporting a
professional learning community?


What would they say? I don't know what, you talked to them, what did they say? I think that they
know 100% what my expectations are. I think there's no question about that. They know the
school expectations. I express them every time we'd meet as a group. I give them an agenda of
what were focusing on for the week. It talks about department collaboration and what we‟re
focusing on. I'm checking their progress all the time. I have a binder for all of this. It starts here
on my desk and then I put them the papers in. I have one for each of my years here. This is my
leadership binder. There's a whole component on PLCs. It's broken into various domains. We
also due walk-throughs. People hate when you preach to them especially when 95% my faculty
is doing a wonderful job and 5% need to hear what I have to say. And so the presentation is
usually talking about the great and wonderful things we‟re doing. Let's say it's on interventions.
I'll focus on the great things they're doing with interventions and I‟ll praise them. And what
happens is thay they see that their peers are doing it and it's not just me saying, “you need to do
this.” We were talking about zeros in a day and we thanked them because they were going over
and above the call of duty to help kids be successful. I don't know, that seems more motivational
to me than being punitive. When I was an assistant principal, if I had to discipline a kid, he may
not have liked it, but our relationship was better off later on. For the most part I‟ve tried to do it
in a way that showed them that I love them but I didn't approve of their actions and I know they
can do better. And I think I tried to do that same with my faculty. I have a good faculty. I really
am lucky to have the group I have. It makes my job an awful lot easier. I think my staff knows
that and I think they share the same belief that the school is here for the student and not for adult
employment. So if somebody doesn't get the schedule they want it‟s not really about them. I say
it in a nice way though, that we‟re here to help the students be successful and whatever your
strengths are, that's where you're going to be utilized. I don't think I lie to them , maybe I just


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manipulate data, I just think that there‟s anything wrong with being positive and encouraging
great things to get results of other people.

 Can you provide some specific examples of how your role has changed since the first
initiation of PLC‟s?

Even Snow Canyon faculty meetings used to be just business administration meetings. I go
through this example of a cultural shift, this is what a traditional school looks like and this is
what a PLC school looks like. Honestly, if we're going to become a professional learning
community this is the direction we need to go. Our school has changed from a shift in
professional development, from presentations to the entire faculty to departments getting
together and learning from each other. And that's where I think my change has been from having
to develop the long presentations on the six traits of writing or different things like that, that's
what professional development presentation used to be mixed in with attendance problems and
school issues and stuff like. Whereas now it's more teachers, teaching teachers in their discipline.
Removing that direction my role has changed to be more supportive and encouraging and
helping move along so that they can really get in there and get the hard work done.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with me regarding your leadership role
and professional learning communities?

No I think if I said anything I'd be redundant. This is everything I have to say.




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Assistant Principal – School #3

Could you begin by giving me a brief overview of your professional/educational
background?

Sure I have been a teacher since 1996. I've taught math for eleven years, all of those eleven
years were at pine view middle school. I taught algebra, pre- algebra, geometry, and geometry 2.
In that time I got my Masters degree in education. I also got an administration endorsement and
loved every minute of it; I did a lot of things at the school, coaching, I was very involved in the
schools. Two years ago I became the assistant principal here at desert hills middle school and
I've been real happy year starting up this school. So that's a brief overview. If you want more
than that you'll have to ask more questions.

Given your role as principal assistant principal what experiences have helped prepare you
for this position?

As an assistant principle, I think there are several, number one, coaching I think was a really
good preparation in that it forced me to get out into the community. I had to deal with parents. I
had to deal with community issues. I think that helped me a lot. Being involved in my school as a
department head I think helped a lot. I was involved as a mentor teacher. I had student teachers
come in and I think that helped prepare me because that gave me opportunities to really look
teaching and to decide what was effective and what wasn‟t and to get feedback on that and I do
that a lot of as an administrator. The PLC process I think it really helped to prepare me to
become an assistant principal because I had to get in and look at data. I had to bring together
teams of people. We had to work as a team and I was the one that kind of drove that as the math
department head at my last school, so I think getting in and looking at that process really helped
prepare me as well.

 As an assistant principal can you describe the philosophies and beliefs that guide you and
your leadership?

You know, clear back in my administration endorsement days, when I was in those classes I was
asked a question about my philosophy and I got in a lot of trouble because they said that it was
too simple, but it's served me pretty well. Basically my philosophy is, do whatever you can to
help the people you need to help: what resources do teachers need, get it for them. What
resources do your students need, give them those resources. That's really what I feel my job is. I
need to provide everything I can to help the teachers do their jobs and help the students learn.
And then after that, I don‟t go that much further than that. That's pretty much what my
philosophy is.


How would you describe your leadership style?

I think the catch word that everyone used to say is eclectic which to me it means it‟s a little bit of
everything. I really like to lead by example; I mean I really feel like I need to be out with my
sleeves rolled up and showing everyone in the schools that I‟m willing to do whatever it takes to

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get the job done; so I‟ll lead by example a lot. Ah, I really like to cooperate and collaborate. I
don't like to give direct, “this is what you will do,” I like to let the teachers kind of figure that out
for themselves; I‟ll guide, I‟ll help, I‟ll ask them questions about how things are going but really
I like to let them learn for themselves and come to conclusions about what‟s best for themselves
so very rarely will I say, “this is how it will be done.” So, I would say that‟s probably it. Again,
you‟re going to have to ask some follow up questions if you want more than you‟re getting.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

I think the culture of our school is very good. I think the culture we‟re establishing is that we‟re
here to help students learn and that is our main focus, student learning, and I think the PLC
process is a big part of that because we came in from day one preaching and saying this is what
were going to do; we‟re going to be a plc school, were going to be focused on students learning.
We‟re lucky in the aspect that many of the teachers we hired were brand new teachers so they
didn‟t have a set way to do anything; they were perfectly willing to do what we said they needed
to do and I think that‟s started to pay off. We‟re in our 3rd year and we have teachers who don‟t
know any different than working together; help the students, give them every possible chance so
I think the philosophy and the culture of our school is very accommodating, very helpful, you
know, very, “do whatever we need to to help the students learn.” We‟re seeing a lot of things
taking place this year that are very student learning driven and we‟re happy about that.


What do you do with individuals that don‟t always fit in, who don‟t necessarily share the
same vision?

There are a couple of things that we‟ve done, number one: we‟ll just encourage, encourage,
encourage them to get in with the collaborative teaming. But there have been instances where
we‟ve had to pull them in and say look you need to do this. Mostly Mr. Stevenson, the principal
does that. He deals with a lot of the teacher issues. We have had instances where we‟ve had to
pull them in and say you need to be doing this with your department. We‟ve really been
supported in that because the district has even said in the last couple of years you‟ll get in and
collaborate or you‟ll find another job. Basically, um, the district has put into place things that
they need to do for the quality teaching money, extra stipends where they have to collaborate and
they as departments have to keep track of who‟s at the meeting what‟s being done by each
teacher and that actually goes in the district as a report and that‟s been very helpful to help
everyone step it up. We‟ve been lucky we haven‟t had to do too much of that.


What role do principals play in designing self-sustaining cultures of improved change?

I think his position is, well, what he needs to do is set up the school in a way that makes it easy
to collaborate. An example would be time. We as a school, we‟ve set from the very beginning
were going to hold a minimum number of faculty meetings. We have one day every week where
teachers are supposed to be here for faculty meeting for extra time and we‟ve dedicated most of
those days to department collaboration and individual planning so that they can get together as
departments and do what they need to do. Another thing I think is a role as a principal is they

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need to get teachers training and Brian has been wonderful. I think we‟ve taken almost every
department to a professional development conference as a department and most of them have
gone to plc conferences where they were able to go out sit down and listen to what was being
presented and then take time as a department to talk about oh we liked this, or we liked this, or
were going to do this, or we really liked these things. I think this is really lit a fire in some of the
department. It has really helped them to see exactly what we‟re talking about. So I think that‟s
another thing that‟s a principal job, to help the teachers know, catch a vision of what that is really
all about. And so that would be another thing that‟s his role, and again, I touched on it earlier, I
think the role of a principal is to give all the resources a teacher needs. Obviously there are going
to be budget constraints, time constraints, but as a principal you‟ve got to go out and see what is
it that the teachers really need to be successful and then you‟ve got to get it for them and Brian
has done very well with that, with technology with, you know, the way he sets the schedule so
there‟s time in the day, about everything he could get for them that they‟ve needed he‟s got it for
them.

What is your communication infrastructure to know the needs of your teachers?

Really how it‟s worked so far for us, they‟ve come and told us. The math department has come
down and said we need this book, we need this many graphing calculators. The science
department has come down and said, we need this much lab gear, we need these CD-ROMs that
are in commercial labs. The PE department will do the same thing. They‟ll come down and say
we need this and this and this, they've never been afraid to come in and ask for things and I think
that's been because from the very beginning, they got the feeling Brian was willing to work with
them to give them what he could. Especially if they could show they needed it. So we've been
lucky in that so far we haven't had much more structure than that. What they've needed, they‟ve
come and asked for. And I also think Brian has really been pro- active starting up as a new
school. He was given an equipment budget at the start of school and the teachers were given
things right off the bat. As a teacher he was always technology oriented and so right off the bat
he got in and started getting projectors in every room. He went out himself and bought several
different things that the teachers didn‟t even asked for, that he just felt like this is going to help
them do these types of things. So there has been a real open relationship between the
administrators and teachers about if you need something come and talk to me and we‟ll try and
get it for you if we can.


How do you predetermine what professional development would be of greatest benefit for
them?


For the second part of the question, the majority of those conferences have been PLC conference.
The reason for that is because our district has really been pushing in. It's been a district
motivated thing. In the first two years what happened was the administrators would go to
conferences and come back and give a watered-down versions to the teachers and the teachers
weren‟t really able to catch much of a vision and of what it was they were expected to do. So
both Brian and I, as we sat down to discuss it, we felt like we needed to change; that it should be
the teachers that are going to this conference and the administrators could stay home. Then when

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the teachers got back we could get out of them what they had learned and give them the
resources they needed to do what they need to do once they're on fire. And so we basically have
taken each of the departments to one of the PLC conferences, they haven‟t really been given the
choice, they've gone to, just the plc conferences.

Can they come to you if they feel they need extra support in an area of professional
development?

They can come to us, and in fact they do. In fact I‟ll give you two examples, one of the math
department and the science department this year. The both recently went to PlC conferences and
then the science department came down and told us, we want to change the way we test. And so
they asked us if they gave the test only once, and the student failed, could the student choose if
they re-took the test or not? We want to set a standard for the kids to meet and if they don't meet
them then we‟ll give them an incomplete on the grade and make them keep coming back and
coming back to get a certain standard met. The first thing they did was come down to Brian and
ask is this was okay to do this, asking for us to give them some feedback on what we thought
about this? Brian worked with them and actually sent a letter to the parents from the science
department saying this is what we‟re going to do and he helped them really work out some of the
details for how it was going to work. The math department came down to me a few weeks ago
and said we've got an idea for an intervention that we want to do with our kids. They are not
getting good scores on the tests. So I sat down with them as a department and looked at the
logistics: who can cover the other classes; where are we going to pull these kids; how are we
going to make this work? So there's two examples of departments that have problems they
wanted to try something new with and they came right down to us and asked us how can we do
this and we helped them to figure out a way to do it. And now I will say I don't know how well
the new systems worked, but I know the math department felt like it didn't go very well so I told
them to write down what didn't go very well and the next time around we can try something
different and I know they did that.

Has there been an impetus for this type of change related to what's happening in their plcs?

I think so. We do a lot of things as departments as I've said and a lot of our teachers don't know
any different. They just know you work at the department and if you have a problem usually the
department comes down, or the counselors work with them or the administrators, to help them
get things solved. Yes, I would say the PLC process is the vehicle that they used to do a lot of
what they do.


Can you explain what makes your school a professional learning community? (i.e.: what
does it look like in operation and what are its attributes?)

What makes our school a professional learning community? Well I'll be honest with you I don't
know that we‟re where we want to be yet. I think we still have a lot of room for improvement,
but I would say there are several things where we‟re well along the road. Number one, we have
all of our teachers meeting together and collaborating on a regular basis; that's become part of the
norm at our school. It happens almost every week. That's just what happens and I think that's a

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real big part; their working together and collaborating. Number two, we‟re looking at data.
We‟re very fortunate that we have a teacher in the school who also happens to be our
professional staff developer, he‟s a data miner as well. His job is to help teachers take the data
results and break them down and then he gives them back the information in such a way that they
can look at it and really see where the problems are, what didn't go well. That‟s a big part of the
PLC process and I think we do that well. He's wonderful in his job and there's been many times
where teachers have looked at what he's given them back and teachers have said, we have to fix
this, this, or this and he gives them back data and that's useful to them. And another thing I think
that makes us a PLC is that we do have interventions in place. One of the biggest things in a PLC
is we just don't let kids fail. We intervene early on. And that's something that we have in place
here as well; interventions that are built into the school. Homeroom teachers and advisers, the
counselors, we even have a person on staff who works solely with the math department and
teaches classes whose sole purpose is to help kids stay caught up in math and to give them extra
support in math. So we have a lot of things built-in; if a kid is failing here in the school they're
going to get pounded by like four different people and I know kids have complained about that,
they're like that, but they‟re passing their classes because of that. I think that's another thing that's
a big part of our school. And then, last of all, I think we celebrate success pretty well. I was
walking around to the homeroom classes last week and there were four different teachers doing
something in their homeroom classes for the kids because their entire homeroom class got a C or
better. They are having a pizza party and they are playing games or they were doing something
to let those kids know, hey, nice job. You've got good grades are doing well and they were
celebrating success. We‟re planning something like that for the faculty as well in the coming
months. Just a celebration of what's gone on the first half of the year and I think that's one part of
PLCs philosophy that gets overlooked a lot…hey, lets look at all the good things that are going
on and celebrate the fact that these things are happening. So, there‟s some examples

What factors of the infrastructure of the school influence your plcs?

I think it's the way the meetings are set up. Most of our meeting times are dedicated to
department time. Also the way our building is set up, to keep the departments together in their
own section of the building. The whole math department is in one hall, the whole science
department is in one hall, the English department. I see teachers a lot stepping out in the
hallways and they're talking in between classes because they're in close proximity. I think that
helps too.

Is there any built in structure in these weekly department meetings that helps convey this
information back to the administration

They have to send minutes from their meetings back to both Brian and I. And they have a folder
that they have to keep them in. A lot of it comes from the district and the keep track of what's
going on with their own departments; who was at the meeting, what their responsibilities are.
Most meetings, there is a very detailed reporting process for what goes on. Again is it comes
from the district because some of their professional development money comes from completing
those things.

Have you found this data to be useful for the things that you do here?

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I think the process helps to keep them organized, but it's still in its first stages and honestly we
go to most of those meetings. I drop in to the math department meetings every time I get a
chance, which is most weeks and I usually stay for at least 15 minutes. I know Brian goes to the
science department meetings. We'll walk around and go to those meetings and as administrators
were there, we know what's going on, and in many cases as soon as we walk in they get us
involved in the discussion. What do you think about this, what would you recommend for this;
we‟re right there with them.

What do you think is the percentage of the time you think there is a member of
administration at one of the PLC meetings

75% of time. The staff developer is also in the language arts department. He teaches honors
ninth-grade English and because he's in the language arts department he will help meet with
them on a weekly basis. The math and science meetings get hit all the time as I'm a former math
teacher and Brian is a former science teacher. The vocational we hardly ever go with because
they have to meet all over the district. Social studies we get once in a while. Special Ed, we get
once in a while and fine arts with don‟t get there very much either. The departments like the fine
arts department and the vocational department often convey frustrations with the process because
it's so much harder for them to work together because they all teach different classes so it‟s
harder for them to have things in common. They have to meet with other people from other
schools to be able to find someone who teaches a common class, and they have expressed
frustration with that.

Do you believe your school utilizes professional learning communities effectively?

I think were getting there. I think we need more practice like I said. We have the data. We‟re
starting to use it. We‟re developing common assessments and starting to use them. I don't think
we‟re really where we want to be yet. But I think that's mostly because we started with a lot of
first-year teachers and there's still some growth that can take place. The other problem is that
we've had a lot of change. We need a few years of stability where we‟re not changing schedules
are changing curriculum or things like that because we‟re a new school and we just opened a
couple of years ago. We're still trying to plug some holes and make some adjustments. We just
need some stability for a couple of years so we can just work on what they have. And then I
think we'll get where we want to be. The first year we opened up as a 6/7th grade school. So we
had a completely different schedule. The second year we went to an 8/9th grade school and we
lost two thirds of our staff. Then we changed from a traditional seven period day to the block
schedule. So there's a lot of change there from last year. This year we haven't changed as much
but we've added some different classes. The math department has had a district-wide curriculum
development changes, they've all gone to the same pacing guide and some curriculum changes
which always disrupts your department having to change curriculum. So there's been things like
that, things really out of teachers control but now I hope for the next three or four years we can
keep it how it is so that they can compare apples to apples, year-to-year. And don't have to start
over with baseline data.

Have PLC‟s allowed your school to address any of these changes?

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I know the math department with their new pacing guide they've set up a department calendar
and they are all following the same calendar based on the new district pacing guide. They're
using common assignments. They really sit down as a department and talk about what works, so
yes I do think the PLC process has helped.

 How would you describe professional learning communities and your school's adaptability
to change

I think it's helped them. I think working in departments has helped them cope with the changes a
lot better than if they were on the old traditional way, every teacher was in their own classroom
doing it themselves. Because we have a lot of new teachers I really feel like these new teachers
would've struggled a lot if they weren't on a regular basis sitting down with a little more
veteraned teacher who has some experience and saying let's do this. Let‟s look at this, let‟s do
this. I know this happened in the math department. I know it happened in the social studies
department. I think a lot of problems have been averted because we were doing it that way at the
very beginning. We work in departments to do these things. Even with the changes, when the
whole department addresses them, I think it saves time because instead of having each teacher
come up with their own system from the change and then have the district tell them you‟re all
going to do it the same way, that's a lot more frustrating. I think it‟s easier when they‟re just told
as a department make this change. Sit down together and figure out how to do it.

How would your staff describe your role in leading, initiating, and supporting a
professional learning community?

I'm interested in seeing how they respond to this. What I think they would say is that I am
willing and Brian also, that we‟re willing to come in and sit in on the meetings and really be part
of it. Having been a math teacher and having taught for 11 years and having directed a plc in
another school a lot of times they come to me and say how would you do this what would you do
here, give us some examples, give us some suggestions here. I help them develop tests. I sit
down and look over student data with them and help them separate and then disaggregate the
data. So I think they would say that we‟re very hands-on. If there is a problem we are more than
willing to help jump in and address it, give support, give suggestions, give advice. So that's what
my perception is. Maybe they'll come back and say, I wish they‟d keep their noses out of it.
“Geez we cant do anything without them popping off.” Maybe we do a little too much of that,
but my perception is that we‟re right in the trenches with them as much as we can be, helping
out.


I found the last three years that I taught, and was really involved in PLCs I found it was more
rewarding to work with other teachers than to just be in my room by myself. Once we got over
the initial fear of doing it and just talked and did it, it actually gave us more time and that's what
I think some teachers here are starting to find. But when you're working as a team, all of a
sudden, this teacher made tests, this teacher put together a video, I did something else, and we all
got together and met and talked, and our week was all planned. By doing that from year to year if
you do it really well the first year, then when you come back the next year you can say all this is

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done, we need to tweak this a little bit; what do you think guys how can we change these
questions? I think this goes back to what I said earlier, we need some consistency, we need some
years without change. If we could just have a few years where we could just use what they have
they could see, yes, we have to put in all this work at the front end, but now, a couple years down
the road, we've got this and this working for us and were seeing results. So that's where the
positive enthusiasm comes. And that's when teachers start to get on board. I think we‟re unique
as a school and that we‟re lucky, we had a bunch of first-year teachers who didn't know any
different. It's a lot different story when you got a 20 year veteran who‟s taught their way for 20
years and has had good success in the classroom for 20 years and now all of a sudden they're
being asked to change. That is a much harder situation. We had a couple people like that, but
they're coming around

What are you doing to help them come around?

That means they're now getting involved with the departments and are sharing what they have

And what have you done to make that happen?

We‟ve kept hounding them. We‟ve encouraged, we‟ve asked, we‟ve said you need to get in and
do this, we‟ve said these younger teachers need your support. They need to be there. Again,
having the district put that requirement in the binder where they mark that they‟ve been there has
helped. The few teachers we do have that have struggled a bit, they are beginning to see the
benefits. They have a better attitude about it now than they did two years ago because they are
seeing some benefits.

This is our third year with PLCs but the district bought into it probably six or seven years ago.
As a teacher I dealt with them for probably about four years. It was a muddled confusion. We
had no idea what they wanted and we didn't see the vision we just knew that they were telling us
we had to do this. And some people tried. Some people didn't. The district has been rigid about
what we‟re doing with PLCS‟s. We're not backing off. If something comes down the pike and it
doesn‟t work very well, you don't usually hear anything else about it. The district has not been
that way with PLCs. They've continued to push, continued to drive, continued to demand that
they be done. They've also supported it. They've given money to let people go to conferences,
they've found ways to get people out to learn about it and to develop it. The district‟s actually
changed from doing a teacher of the year to doing a team of the year every year. And I think
that's been a real positive indicator that were committed to this. And that has been a pretty
exciting thing. So every year they'll highlight an entire team of teachers to talk about what the
team of teachers has done as a PLC group rather than honoring one teacher. Every year they
switch back and forth from elementary to secondary. Teams have to do an application process.
They have to submit certain things and administrators have to submit things as well.

Does the district to disseminate this information to the schools?

Yes they do. In that district staff development and trainings, classes that go on, the district will
invite these people in to share what they did. There's a lot of that goes on. Last year Brian as the
principal said I want every department to at least submit the application. He said, you might not

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care to do the rest of the stuff that goes along with it but I want you as a department to sit down
and think about those things that are asked on the application. We have faculty meetings, once a
month, tops, and Brian will get up and talk about what's going on, what this department‟s done,
what that‟s departments done, here's what we're seeing as a school that's going well. So he'll give
feedback and information like that in front of the whole school. In fact in most faculty meetings
that we have he‟ll say something along those lines.

Some of the other things we've done is, we'll go in to whole rooms, first-quarter Brian did this a
lot better than I did. He didn't tell me he was doing until the end, if he‟d told me at the beginning
I think I would've jumped in and done it as well. We'll look through the home room data and
then we'll go to homeroom after looking at each student's grades and sit down with the teacher
and say hey we see these F‟s, can you guys work together and will check again in a couple of
days. Then if a homeroom has all good grades, well Brian went in a couple of times with a box
of candy bars and just walked into the homeroom and said I just checked your grades guys and
you guys and your teacher are doing a great job and then he‟d hand a candy bar to each kid. I
did that once and they were pretty impressed with that. That type of thing goes on quite a bit
here. with us and with the teachers as well. The teachers seem to find ways to reward the kids.

Is there anything else you‟d like to share with me?

No, well, yes. You know you get talking about PLCs and I've actually heard the Dufours say
they're at the point that they hate that term PLC because the principles behind it are what they're
really trying to teach. And I kind of feel the same way. I finally feel like for me that I understand
what the principles are and have had enough experience that I've seen the benefits of them. I've
seen them work. And I don't care that our teachers may not be at that point yet. I don't think that
they've seen the success that can come from doing this but they're getting there. I‟ll go back to
what I said before, if we can get a couple good years where we don't have to go through major
systemic changes, where they can just work and refine what they've started, I think were going to
be okay. If we don't get that, I do worry that we'll have some of that burnout start to take place.
We're seeing some of that this year, but I think we need two or three more good years to feel like
we've benefited from this, so we can see the results. And then I think if we get that, then it's just
going to be look out, let them do what they do. But I think we‟ve got two more years of hard
work in front of us to get there.




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Math Department Chair – School #3



Could you begin by giving me an overview of your professional educational background?

I am the oldest of five children and both of my parents are teachers so that's where I started with
education. When I originally went to college I was not going to be a teacher but I had started
substituting for a little bit of extra money and discovered that I enjoyed it. I graduated from Utah
State with a bachelors in elementary education. I taught for five years and then I took a leave of
absence for four years. I have a child with immune deficiency. This is my fourth year back and I
just finished my secondary license in mathematics.

Given your role as department head, what experiences have helped prepare you for this
position?

I am very organized and I was able to attend a PLC conference because that's what our district is
doing and kind of see, and I'm an avid reader so I pick up any book I can find and I visited with
several department heads from other schools, to see what worked and what didn't work so I could
make it as workable as possible here. There are five total math teacher , but we also have our
special teacher that comes in with us, so our PLC meetings are between six and seven teachers.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

We have a very positive and very academic culture. We are very focused on academics were
very focused on student learning and it's a very positive place to be. Brad out assistant principal
attends most of our department meeting and he is phenomenal with his ideas because he's already
taught it so it's a huge help because sometimes he'll see things from a different perspective even
than we and he can share that and we can build from that, it's been a huge help. Our social-
economic status quite high and so we have a lot fewer problems than most other schools. We
have an entirely different set of problems because of the group of students we have. But overall
it's a really nice place to work. There's still some bullying, and some things like that but overall
it's a safe place for kids to come.

From your experiences with role do administrators play in designing a culture capable of
dealing with change?

I think it starts with the administrator. If the administrator is someone who buys into every new
thing that comes along there's never any consistency is never a chance to build and grow. And so
the administrator is actually the leader. They're the ones that have to determine what's the most
important to work on and how we're going to make it work. And they have to be sold on it. And
their attitude of they want to be involved in it, that attitude spreads to the whole school. We have
very few full faculty meetings because the focus at our school is for departments to work
together, for teachers to have the collaboration time, and so simply in the way that they've set

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everything up, you know that collaboration is important. But when we have a full faculty
meeting, they do the business end and then they instruct us on the focus. So this year's focus, and
last year's focus, has been on assessment. So there's always something that they add, but we're
still working on the same basic concepts. Brian, our principal, and Brad, our assistant principal,
ask questions, they ask about our assessments, they ask about our interventions, they ask… it's
just as important to them as it is to us and you can tell that because they'll come up to us and ask,
okay, how did this work with so-and-so, and you're going, wow, you knew that he bombed that
test? And that makes a huge difference. They know it through the information we put in our PLC
notes, and the data that we put together, and they also have access to student grades. If they see
that a student needs interventions, I've seen them talk to students and because I didn't want the
students singled out I decided to give them a golden ticket and I just ran it off on yellow paper
and said you won a Golden ticket please go to so-and-so's room during homeroom and its for the
remediation and so they came bouncing down the hall and they said Mr. Stevenson, Mr.
Stevenson, I won a Golden ticket. And he's like, and by the end of the week, you'll know how to
do all the material you‟ve missed. And the kids were like, ah, it's not a treat. Right now, as I
mentioned before, our staff meetings are focused on the formative assessments. So each time we
meet, Ryan Reynolds, our staff developer, and he comes to the meetings with little cards, little
ideas for us, something that we can use that is actually usable. Now some of this stuff and are
using in my classroom, but other teachers might not be. The other thing is, our principal, AP, and
staff developer, they are very active about observing in the classroom. The AP comes into my
classroom four or five times a quarter. Only one officially, but he's in and out of the classroom a
lot. Our principal comes in to my classroom several times a quarter, our staff developer comes
into my classroom several times a quarter. They are not coming in to evaluate me, or to observe
me only once. Brad, our AP, is usually over me because his background is math, so he'll send me
even just a little note in my box, and say something like, what do you think about so-and-so, do
you think you can see the board, and Im like, oh, I hadn't thought about that. So even when it's a
non-observation that he's in there for he still gives me feedback. And I think that really helps.
They can see what we are working on and that kind of helps drive the curriculum for our faculty
meetings. They know what's happening in their classrooms. I don't think that they don't know
any of us. Every single one of us, especially since many of us are so young, that they have to be
there. But for even those of us that are more seasoned, I've never had administrators who are in
the classroom and at first I was worried that maybe I was doing something wrong at the feet that
I didn't is always positive. Constructive things like, could you teach this, or could you teach that,
or would this work better? And so I'm getting better at having them in my room. I like it because
I know that they know what's happening in my room. And the students know at any given time
any of the administrators could be there this. Having come from a school where he never saw an
administrator except for every five years to be evaluated and then going to one where I'm
evaluated quarterly and that doesn't even include the walk-throughs. These aren't evaluations
done for new teachers these are school evaluations. They come in and evaluate what we‟re doing
quarterly. There is not an official form that they're following, they just tell us and faculty


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meeting, next time we come were looking for your objectives, were looking for how students are
working and so when they come in that's what their focus is that they might see something else.
Like with my smart Board, I have 40 students in my room, and I never stop to think about the
fact that when I write with my right hand there was one student who could never see but he was
so quiet he never said anything. So Brad just wrote down after the observation, I know little
piece of paper, do you think he can see the board? And those are the kinds of things they share
with us. They come in any time, they know how I teach, they know what's happening in my
classroom nearly every day, I see one of the three of them every day, they are always in the hall.
Our administrators are really involved with students in a positive way. And I've never seen that
before. And I think that's what makes it work at this school because they drive Everything.



Can you explain what makes your school PLC?

We are divided into departments so most of our PLC meetings are done in departments so we
can focus on the same curriculum. We meet every Monday afternoon, but only two of the four
Monday's our department meetings. In those meetings we discuss common assessments, we are
responsible for getting our curriculum to the point where we‟re at the same point at the same
time. And then one Monday is usually an individual work day that we can work on grades and
one Monday is a large faculty meeting. We are expected to collaborate, we are expected to be on
the same page at the same time, use common assessments, common curriculum, that's probably
been the toughest part for my department, is getting everyone to do the same thing, but that
doesn't mean that were clones of each other, we all teach it differently, but at least now were all
in the same spot. Last year I was behind because my focus is student learning and I want to know
that they know it and another teacher wants to finish the book. So it was a get in, get done, get it
over with. And we were about three or four chapters apart most of the year. Her class did a lot
better than my class, but I those students that struggle a lot, but they all need to growth, but they
could all pass the test. The district this last summer in created a standardized pacing guide and
that is the goal for our PLC groups this year, that every department has to have their own
standardized pacing guide. Without a standardized pacing that there's no way to pull students in
and out of classrooms, and this way we are all together, we give tests on the same day it may not
always be the same test, or the same assessment, sometimes I'll play a game as an assessment
instead of giving a written test because I can still learn what they know simply by having them
hold up their whiteboard and I can use the same questions, just keep a tally. When it comes to
big assessments we all give the same thing. We give the benchmark assessment once a quarter,
and at the end of the chapter we also have a common assessment. We also have at least one
common quiz, but we use those to drive... we use a pre-test and post test for the big quarter one
and that drives what we teach. If everyone already knows everything there is no reason to waste
our time, but we haven't had that yet. It would be heaven, but we haven't had that yet. And then
at the end of a couple of lessons or sometimes even after one lesson if we think it's crucial we
will give them a one or two question quiz that doesn't count for too many points but just
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something like bell work, something more we can see that they just don't understand it yet we
better take a few minutes to review that.

Do you think PLCs help with your school's adaptability to change?

For me, yes because I have others I can go to and collaborate with and come up with ideas who
are dealing with the same issues that I'm dealing with it. There are times that we change
midstream simply because the PLC team looked at it and says, ooh, this isn't working for us. But
right now PLC itself is a change. I mean honestly, it's a huge change compared to what we've
done in the past. So is it driving our change? Yeah! Right now PLC drives everything. All of our
change is based on, and the PLC worthy and I think, I am one of those who has always liked to
collaborate because I learn more from others so in that respect PLCs are a good thing because it
opens it up for everybody. Is there a lot more work? Oh yeah! Did it double and triple my
workload? Oh yeah! Is it easier to go into my room and close my door? It would be, but I'm
accountable to my department, I'm accountable to the other teachers who teach the same subject
I'm accountable to my parent's, to my students, and to my administrators. And as a PLC we all
work together. Not just departments and administrators. My students are a part of my PLC. My
parents are part of my PLC. And that's what makes it powerful because as a community if this all
of us together, not just teachers driving curriculum.

How do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?

This is especially hard in the math department because we have one teacher who went in to this
kicking and screaming. I'm retiring in a couple of years so I'm not going to buy into this. But as
we met we created team norms as far as we‟ll be on time, we'll be positive, we don't spend a lot
less time. There's not a lot of time to talk about what my kids did last night, those are the things
that we could talk about at lunch, or in the hall, or whenever. But our meetings are very focused
on student learning. And when that became the focus it was amazing we went to our PLC
conference this last year and there are still some parts of the concepts that are extremely difficult
for her to follow up on with and on it as a team and all of a sudden she started seeing how much
easier it was because we would meet together and plan things out delegating various
responsibilities and then say, okay, on our assessment, what is the most important thing what do
we want the kids to learn, and if that's the case, don't we need to do this problem? And all of a
sudden she was like, wow, and now she comes in and says, alright, what about this, this, or this,
but to begin with it was a real challenge because we saw it differently. And now as a department
we see things in the same way and focus on student learning. That's kind of our goal, to make
sure that the students are learning. Whether it's through curriculum, through assessments,
whatever. And now when we meet at team meetings, we can say, alright, here is where our
students are. Or here's what happened with our interventions, what do you think about... what
can we do for this... and our meetings are a lot more driven and a lot less, I don't want to do that.
I went to the administration last year and said we just can't do this, we either need to have
everyone on board, or we need to scrap this, we can't do both. And then I think the administrators

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and visited with her a little bit, but I think overall she just saw that this was the way that it was
going, and I either get on and enjoy it, or I get on and don't enjoy it, but this is what the district
mandated that were doing. But now I would say she's a huge part because she has the experience
that some of the rest of us don't and she can draw on that experience and we can learn a lot from
that in a positive way. Last year was awful. Last year I was the point that I would go home and
say, PLCs don't work, this just isn't going to work. And I would go upstairs and say if you want
us to do this we can't keep this up, but we knew this teacher was retiring in a few years, saw was
like, build everyone else, get everyone else on the same page, and will let her work. And that's
what we finally decided at the end of last year, will just work together, we'll do what we have to
do, and she started to realize that we were doing some pretty fun things. We're going to bunging
Barbi in a few weeks off the bleachers and doing various things related to math and those
students would say why don't we get to do that? And so it started changing the dynamics of the
team. She has so much material and so much background knowledge, but I benefit probably
more than anyone from her experiences but now that it's not, well you have to do this, and this is
what I say you have to do, she's a lot more willing to come on board. We've had to compromise
and that hard, because I like things one way, and she likes things another way. And we agreed to
go through the metal. But it's been good for both of us. I think it's made us both better teachers.

How would you characterize your role in supporting professional learning communities?

This is something the district has adopted and I need to be on board and be supportive as possible
but I need to see how to make it work. If this is really what's best for students, one way or the
other thing I need to make it what's best for students, that's why I bought all of the books, I'd
bought off the books even before the district bought into the PLC. I was actually doing PLCs in
my classroom long before PLCs came to the district because as far as teenage students go if they
feel empowered, which is what a PLC does, their a lot more willing to work with me then if I'm
just standing up there lecturing and telling them, this is how it has to be! High school students
don't do that! My mom teaches at Sunrise Ridge which is a six and seventh grade Center, and the
two of us work very closely together so we had already collaborated on some different subjects.
So now when we collaborate in constant she's behind me so she feeds me... so I can say to her,
you know what, I would really like it if the students came with this, and she takes that back to
her team meetings, this is what they're seeing, she is math too. And I do the same thing with the
high school once or twice a year we meet with a high school and they say these are the things
that were struggling with can you help us out here and I think what it's done is it's made us so
that it's the whole cone site PLC they've added some math classes at the secondary level, and
we've made some adjustments to our curriculum in the middle school, to better meet their needs
and this year were working on a system where it's just a constant transition and its huge. Here in
our district were still quite small, large for Utah, but still quite small, and because of our
department meetings I am allowed to govern those department needing to her I want to come I
can call the high school and say, hey, you want to meet together today? Or, when can you meet
and discuss this with us? A lot of times it's done through e-mail because I'm meeting times don't

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match up exactly, but it doesn't matter, we're still collaborating I can still send an e-mail to the
department head below me and above me, and I instantly think that. And they're really good to
work with us. There's not any complaints. I learned this type of collaboration when I worked in
Pineview District they do it even more than we do.

Brian, our principal, and Brad, our AP, are so good at providing constant feedback. Positive or
negative, but there's consistent feedback.. There's also consistency in the plan of what we're
doing, the paperwork, and everything, there's consistency. And I like. For me that makes it easier
to focus on teaching one I know that they take care of their job, but when I send a student down
to them, and they know that that student is supposed to be there that they can come in at any
given time and associate with my students. I like the walk-throughs, and the observations. To me
that shows that PLCs are important to them, they are in my classroom, they aren't telling me
what I have to do from the sidelines. They're in there with me, they see what I'm doing, and then
they instruct me on what I can do better. And that makes it better PLC. I'm more willing to do it
because they are more positive with me. Even if I messed something up coming down on me,
because they're in my classroom I'm a lot more willing to listen to what they have to say.
Another thing, if a parent calls them and says, while Mrs. Anderson is doing... they say, no she's
not, I was just in her classroom. For me I send weekly e-mails to my parents. I am on Facebook,
I have a blog. My Facebook account is strictly a teacher's account, and I write things on there
and there are a few students that are on their but I don't interact personally with them. So I'll send
out e-mails to everyone that's on that account regarding home or something they need to bring to
class the next day so that parents just become a fan state of a friend so that they can see my
postings. I even have a website. I've made it so that it's impossible for parents to say that there's
no communication. I make phone calls on high on tests, I make phone calls for improvements on
tests, I send postcards, so then, nine times out of 10, that parent is going to say, you know what, I
have a really hard time believing that Mrs. Anderson would say that to you. Like last week I had
a student who said he was getting bullied in the classroom, so principal pulled me aside and says
so and so says he's feeling because someone is pulling them in your classroom, and I said, I find
that really hard to believe, because one they don't sit together, and so he said alright, now that
I've discussed it with you, if his grades continued to drop see me, and we'll put him in in school
suspension. Our administrators are very supportive of me as a teacher because there and my
classroom so when a parent calls our principal then pull up my e-mail because it comes to him to
and he can say, I am looking at Mrs. Anderson's e-mail right now and it says right on their that
she's going to do this, this week, did you get that e-mail? I have 241 students and two preps,
algebra and pre-algebra. How can I collaborate with my parents if they don't have some say, if
they don't know what's happening in my classroom, they can't be part of my PLC. I spend a
couple of hours a day at answering e-mails. We all are required to send e-mails before an
assessment. I'd definitely get a lot fewer complaints from parents because they know that they
can contact me.

What obstacles did your school face in implementing PLCs?

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The biggest obstacle we probably faced here were the veterans; they just didn't buy into it. They
just think it's the pendulum and any minute now we're going to come back to the middle. But
other than that we haven't had too many issues. One thing that is hard is that we have a lot of
coaches on staff and I don't like the fact that they don't have to go to faculty meetings. I have
basketball tryouts this afternoon, but I'm having my department meeting before I go to basketball
tryouts, because the tryouts were scheduled for after our meeting. I told the coach I'll be there
when I don't have a department meeting but my focus is still academic. It's very frustrating for
me because a lot of time their focus is the sport and not the teaching. I know that my daughter
went to get some help from a teacher and she was told I can't help you with that because I'm
coaching this week. And I had sent her to that teacher for help. I could help her, there's not a
subject I couldn't help her with, but I want her to learn to not come to mom. And she's been told
on four separate occasions by the teacher, sorry, I can't help you, and coaching. I coach so that I
can get to know the girls as people. And that's how it is in my classroom. I want it to be a
positive environment, I want kids coming in whether they like math or not, I want them to like
the math experience, and if they can leave my math class liking math I've won half the battle. So
we're trying to create new ways that the students can relate to the teacher so that they want the
concept.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with me?

I think it's a nice thing, I'm excited about it. I think it's a good thing. Are their drawbacks? Yes,
but there are drawbacks to any program. But overall it's a highly positive thing. I see more
involvement from our administrators, more collaboration between my colleagues, were here for
students, were here to make it a positive learning experience for them and I think we're doing
that.




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Science dept chair – School #3



Could you begin by giving me a brief overview of your professional, educational
background?

I've taught in the Salt Lake City at Kearns junior high for three years, and 78 and ninth grade,
science and biology. And from there I went to a charter school and taught there for two years and
also a private LDS school for about a year. And then I moved down here and I've taught here for
three years, so this is my ninth year. So Granite district , charter/private schools, and the district
here. I graduated from Westminster College in Salt Lake. So my bachelors is in biology.

Given your role as department head what experiences have prepared you for this position?

The main thing that prepared me was going to college and taking classes that had a background
in biology that's what I found an interest in and that's kind of what led me to want to teach it. So
mostly at the beginning it was just the classes I took in college which gave me a background.
They have great education classes at Westminster that helped prepare me to become a teacher.
Of course we did some student teaching and that was scary and then a lot of the first few years of
school are just trial and error. You find what works and what doesn't work and you tweak it. I
had a mentor teacher, but I didn't really have a mentor teacher... so I don't know that I even knew
that I had one. Just kind of a veteran teacher was my mentor teacher and she was actually clear at
the other end of the school so I guess if I had problem I could have gone to her but otherwise I
was on my own when I first started out. So I had a room, and the key to the room and the book at
the s I am sure you can at a time yet tate core and there you go. I had some good teachers that
were next to me that taught science that I would talk to quite a bit. We did have some teaming
that it wasn't like the teaming that we do now. So as the years have progressed it's gotten a lot
better for me.

Can you describe the philosophies and beliefs that guide what you do?

As a department head our belief is that we are all teaching at the same pace or the same topics at
the same time. One reason for that is if students transfer around or something is not working in
one class they can come to another class on the same topic so they're not saying, oh, we already
did this. We do common assessments in our department and we collaborate once a week, we
discuss interventions, we make the tests together and we discuss the issues together too, share
ideas, stuff like that.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

I would say that it's inviting. Kids want to come in. They know that they're here to learn. I think
the rooms are set up so that when the kids walk in they know whose room they are walking into.
I think that it's a safe environment. I don't think kids are scared to be here. I think they feel

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comfortable. I think teachers due too. Sometimes the design of the building has an impact too.
There's Windows, so it's not a enclosed like a dungeon. When I student taught at a high school, I
don't know if the teachers knew one teacher from another one, or they were kind of in their own
groups, but here teachers time to know everybody. We know who teaches what, where they can
be found, so it's kind of a small community.

What role do you think leadership plays in designing cultures of change?

I think everybody trusts them and what they believe so they I don't think there's a lot of head
butting. There's something about them, their personalities, just meshed with everybody's, so
they'll say, this is the direction that we want to go, and they have trust in them I have trust in
them. I don't think that there's much conflict, that's just too they are. And they are very open and
they are not, this is it, and there's no way around it. They are very open, I think that you can go to
them and discuss any problem. I could be in the Hall and discuss the problem with them, it's not
like I have to make an appointment with them it's almost any time of day, their open, which is
really nice. At lunch I could go and talk to them in the hall, or just in passing time between
classes. That's how I feel with them, and if I ever did have a problem with them, I would discuss
it with them, but otherwise, I'm pretty easy going too. And from what I've seen the change that
they want to make is better for the students, and it's better for the school too, it's going to help the
kids do better in the long run. They are really good about letting us do our own thing because
they have a school to run to. Like Brad our assistant principal probably has issues with kids to
deal with and doesn't want to be bothered with my issues all of the time.

Can you describe what makes your school a professional learning community?

As a department we have common meeting times, we meet at least once a week, and we have
faculty meetings at least once a month. We went to a PLC conference that the whole science
department went to and that gave us a lot of ideas and just kind of reinforced what we're already
doing, and the direction we wanted to go. As a department we meet often and we collaborate
about what are teaching so that were on the same topics and we administer common assessments
and we evaluate the test that were taken to see what areas students struggled on. We do pretests,
so we‟ll look at the pretests and say this kind of area that kids struggled with so this is where
we'll want to focus our teaching. And this stuff that they already know, maybe we could get that
last, so we want to hit this stuff that they struggled with and those students struggled again, we
can pull them out and reteach it to them. We have homeroom time set aside for that and after
school and before school of course the only problem with that is that they don't tend to come so
with homeroom built-in we can give them some time we could say, you can come and retake the
tests so that you can get your grade. As a department, we have a rule now, kind of a grading
system, where upon the final test if they don't score above a 60% stake to get a grade. They'll get
an incomplete until they know the material. That's where we use our homeroom time. We are in
the process of developing since we can't actually reach each a whole quarter of information, or
trying to develop kind of like a packet or something that they can do over, and then retest of the

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material. We intervene right after they take the pretests because we're looking to see whether
struggling so were hitting those areas right from the start. We'll also do other assessments
throughout the quarter but the big test is that posts test. Even if the quarter is over we're still
working to get caught up. Let's say they get a 50% on the end of the quarter test and they are
great overall is a C and they're done. So we go on to the next quarter's stuff, we start fresh. So
even though this student may have gotten a C that quarter they only learned 50% of the material
according to the tests but they did really well on their homework and all their labs and that's what
they got a C but they didn't really learn the material, and we want them to learn the material so
that's where were saying okay, you can come back and re-test to get above the passing level. For
example, last quarter I had maybe six or seven kids that didn't pass it and I actually got with
counselor and she would pull those kids out and review with them some of the topics that they
struggled on the tests with and retest them on that during the homeroom class. The only reason
that I had the counselor do it was because they students eighth grade homeroom I am in class so I
can't really get to them. The ninth graders I could, but I only have one ninth-grade class right
now, and it's honors biology class so when I tested them of them were below 60%. That's kind of
the kink right now we're heading in the right direction but that's one of the flaws. Even yesterday
when we met with Bundee he came up with another great idea for reviewing for the test. At the
time when I used the counselor that was the only source I had to get those kids what they needed
because I could be there to help them.

What if any role do PLCs play in the change process?

I think the whole idea is just to get the students to succeed. You're not the only one. I think you'd
do better with team than just as an individual because you can get ideas from other people,
compare ideas, you're just not shut in your little room and I don't think that there's anyone here
who wants to be shut in their room, they are willing to work together. I think that's great because
the system will work when everyone is on board with it. I think the direction that we're going is a
lot better than what I've experienced in other schools. I have had team meeting before and I
collaborate with them but it wouldn't be any of the stuff that we're doing now, looking at test
scores, struggling students, mostly it was trying to integrate English with science or science with
music. It wasn‟t, okay, these are the struggling students, here are their test scores, how are we
going to get them to succeed. And the charter school there was only one science teacher once a
teacher one social studies teacher... so is difficult to collaborate. And now I have three other
teachers that I can hit ideas off of and they can give me ideas and I can give them ideas, it's a lot
easier to teach. The three of us all teach the same topic, with only one teacher teaching only one
topic. I'm the only one that teaches biology, only one section, but what the other classes were all
on the same standard, all the same objectives. I don't think that there are many cons, maybe the
only con would be if you give a teacher an idea and they don't do it and someone is offended, but
I think we all get along well. If PLCs to work I would think it's because the people of the school
don't get along together. If you have a teacher who's been in for 30 years, and a new teacher, and



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they don't get along very well together, I could see maybe it could cause some problems, they
could clash. But I think if they think it teachers to get along together they could share ideas.

What have your administrators done to build this type of culture?

We‟ll they do the hiring right? For our department they took us to this conference, which was
great because we all got to go and see it, except for one teacher, he could go because he was sick.
They're just great leaders for the school, and I don't know if what they say we just believe. Even
on occasion Brian, our principal, comes into our meetings and will knock ideas around with him
and he‟s receptive and he‟s, I guess it's just like the relationship that you get along. If you gave
him an idea he'll think about it, it's not like he says no, absolutely not. He says, okay, let's think
about it, we can try it and if it doesn't work... one of the things about our policy to give
incompletes or not and we talked to him about that and he said okay, let's try it, and I think it's
working great. I think the big thing is just them being available to us. Their availability. Even if
it's just shooting them an e-mail they're going to respond back to, it's not like oh, who are you?
What did you want a month ago? Not like that. Their communication is top-notch.

Do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?

Probably the only thing I can think of where I don't teach Earth systems and Dundee teaches it
and so does Burt but I don't so if they are collaborating about something in our meeting I really
don't have anything to do with it. I don't know really how we have dealt with that, it's not like to
take a full hour or 45 minutes and I can always learn something from them because who knows,
maybe next year I'll be teaching Earth systems, because I taught last year. That's one issue, but
it's not really a big deal. We kind of just get ideas from everybody even if we don't teach that
topic. And there could be an occasion where our meeting is scheduled for Monday and so-and-so
is not here so we're not going to hold the meeting until Tuesday so he can be there. I don't like to
be looked at like I'm the leader because they have experience just like I do and I think any one of
them could beat department head just as easily as I could but as far as a leadership position, just
making sure that they're there in the meeting, that they are aware that we're going to have a
meeting, we just kind of go through our PLC binder and say okay guys, this is what we need to
work on, this is what we're going to cover, and will discuss other things too like testing.

Do you believe your school utilizes PLCs effectively?

As a school, I don't know, but as a department were headed in that direction. I know that the
English department is doing it also but I don't know how differently they are doing it than us. But
I still think were in the beginning stages. Last year we teamed together and stuff, but I think it's
more clear what we're supposed to do this year. And part of it was going to that conference, also
realizing that we really are doing a lot of those things which ties back to what our administrators
are doing to get us there. Brian and Brad, we buy into them, I think it has to do with the
personalities and their easy-going but they are also firm too, I don't know, it's kind of like a
marriage.

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How would your department said your leadership role in managing the PLC?

They would see me as an example so if I'm not on board with it they are probably not going to be
on board with it. So I just tried to be a good example and hopefully they see me as a good
example, if we say we have a meeting I'm not going to dog them out because that's not a good
role model. So I would say, just be a good example and hopefully they‟ll see that and to respect
that.

Can you describe how your will role is changed since the beginning of PLCs?

I know my role as a teacher and as a team that has changed, we have more of a specific goal to
shoot for at the end as were all working together were trying to hit that goal. My role I guess
instead of just trying to learn new thing to make our PLCs successful. We are meeting more
consistently than they did before so they‟ve progressed and gotten better. We have a better idea
of what we've got to do and with those plans in place like the interventions in place which we're
still working just setting up those things. This year it just seems different, it just seems better.
The last few years it didn't really seem like we have a goal like we do this and the goals, what we
call smart goals that we set up and we keep them and our PLC binders. So we set up the schools,
we want this many students to pass the CRT at the end of the year and how we're going to do that
is we do the pre-testing and the posttesting. We did that a little bit last year we really didn't have
an overall goal like this. So I think that direction has changed, even over the last few years.
Going back to my first few years of teaching there really wasn't any of that, you were in your
own classroom, you're working with the others but you don't all have the same goal. You just set
individual goals, this is a team goal.

Can you provide samples of obstacles your school has faced in implementing and sustaining
PLCs?

The only obstacles I can think of are not having teachers that teach common subjects. But as far
as I know from last year we all thought the same thing. Common prep times could be an
obstacle, so sometimes I have to wait till after school to talk to them or wait for a weekly PLC
meeting. Other than that I can't really think of any other obstacles. Some of the things that have
come up, like if someone's gone one day, which is kind of rescheduled and make our meeting on
another day but other than that I can't really think of any other problems. We've had a new
teacher this year, and with him just coming in to science we try to help them as much as we can
and see hopefully feels comfortable to come to us and he knows that we are accepting and that
will give him ideas, we're not hiding ideas, because I've heard of people doing that saying you
can't use my idea but we've kind of set that up in our meetings that were open to share ideas and
were not offended if someone doesn't use our idea so it's pretty easy going, nobody it's really a
tight about stuff.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?


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The only thing I can think is if you can get people out to those conferences if you can because I
think the thing that they're doing with the schools, like having the departments go to the
conferences, like English went last year, and the science department went this year. I think a lot
of the things we're still doing that it helped to reinforce or doing. Part of it could be this school is
kind of new and I think that makes it kind of easier for everyone to get on board with what we're
doing so that could be, going back to another question of, why is everyone doing it because we
just started it and were very new at it whereas maybe like a high school that's been opened 30
years and their traditionally doing something it may be harder for them to change when they
think things are going great, so why would they change it? That's what you've known and if
you've been doing it for 20 years sometimes it's hard to change if you think it's been working
okay. But that's where it's kind of up to the person. From what I've seen as a teacher over the last
nine years how it's done it's really help me, but that just may go back to personality too, whether
you work well with others or if you don't like working with others. But I think that it's improved
in me as a teacher and it's helped the students learn better in the long run to help them succeed.




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SS Department Chair – School #3



Could begin by giving me an overview of your professional educational background?

I was a history major in college at Ohio Wesleyan University and I really didn‟t want to teach
but I wasn't sure what else to do with a history major and I couldn't want to do law. So I decided
to do education just as a backup and I loved it. So I went back, I actually have a degree in
secondary history 7 to 12 and then I went back and added an elementary also, so I have both.



Given your role as department head, what roles have prepared you for this position?

I would say, I've taught for eighteen years so that just being around different ideas and such. I
taught two years and Ohio before coming out here. And then, I would say my age helps as well
because I'm the oldest, not that you have to be the oldest to be the department head, but I think
mostly, just years of experience really makes a difference. I'm an organized person, and that the
department had I think you need to be organized.



How would you describe the culture of your school?

I would say that we do work through departments, that our main way of organizing the cells of
our school. Some work harder than others, not work harder in the classroom or put work on
outside of class things like PLCs especially the tested areas, like science, math, language arts. I
think they do a lot of work outside of their teaching. In the classroom everybody works hard at
the out of class stuff, you know, like preparing common assessments, they have to do a lot more.
I have taught language arts before and I know it's a lot to have a. Social studies in the state of
Utah is not a tested area as far as the CRTs, which is our end of level test. They keep saying
they're going to, but Ive taught in the district for 16 years and they still haven't. We test in our
own classrooms that there is no official state. And what becomes of that, in some schools where
they combine the subjects like language arts and history, they do very little history so kids come
to us as eight graders knowing very little American history because they have to focus so much
on language arts, math, and science.



Can you explain what makes your school a PLC?

I think that we really focus on making sure that the students learn the knowledge and if they
don't learn it but don't just say forget it. We make sure that they learn, whatever the core is for
that standard we make sure that they learn it. And each year were doing better and better at that.

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Like when I first started teaching a sick kid failed the test, oh well, too bad. And now we really
focus on, why they didn't learn it, we'll re teach it figure out a way where they can learn it and
give him another chance to learn it.



What role does culture play in Influencing your school's adaptability to change?

I think a lot of people adapt to change very well here. I would say that we have a very young
staff and that is a good thing for change they are more willing to accept change than someone
who has taught for a long time. Like I said, most people deal with it well are newer teachers,
younger teachers, and they do what they're told, they are very willing when the administrators
say, this is what you're doing, and they say, okay, I'll do it.



Do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?

My department is three coaches and me. So we kind of have a different situation. And they all
coach different sports so sometimes we have to have our meetings on different days than
everybody else. So if there is a game, or something scheduled, if they had to leave early to travel
then we'll have our meeting may be the next morning before school or another day during the
week. I do have to be very flexible because if they are schedules. Their coaches at the high
school which is to door. I have the JV football coach, the girls softball coach, and the varsity
track coach. And they also coach other things too, things that they do as assistants. So you can
see how... but if I say this is what we're doing they do it. But they kind of want me to tell them.
And they are all men, but that's social studies for you. The high school teachers are all men as
well. All three of them have been teaching for less than three years. They all really have good
ideas so I love finding out what they're doing. They're actually pretty easy to work with but I do
all the organizing paperwork stuff and they are cool with me doing it, they don't argue with me.
They are like, fine, as long as you do all that stuff, we are good, we'll do what you tell us to do.
I've been in departments in the past where all of us were veteran teachers and that the department
head and that's harder because everybody wants it their way



How would you characterize your role in supporting professional learning communities?

I would say as department head I'd definitely make sure things get done. I'm the liaison between
the staff developer, the administration, and my department. So it's kind of my job to make sure
whatever needs to be done, paperwork, assessments, evaluations, that they all get done. Kind of
an organizer. Every department head has a three ring binder and inside there is everything that
we need to do, like everything that needs to be done by the end of August, everything has to be
done by the end of the each semester. So there's a whole bunch of things, like a checklist that I

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need to make sure it gets done. That's what needed to be done in August, our norms, and dark
goals. Just ask our staff developer to look at one of the binders, he's absolutely the most
organized person I know. It does such a good job putting everything together that it makes it easy
for me. He's excellent.



Do you believe your school utilizes PLCs effectively?

Yes, I do. I think the focus of making sure that if kids, what are they supposed to learn, and what
happens if they don't learn it? Making sure that failure is not an option in our school. Each year
it's getting better and better.



Is there any way that the process could be improved?

I would say some of the things that I wished were being done, I wish the special Ed would work
a little more with us. Maybe come to some of our meetings. I also think that there is that
frustration that everyone has at some point of the accountability, kids know they can retest, kids
know they can turn it in work late, so that whole idea between responsibility and academics.
Were encouraged as teachers to allow them to retest. There is a schoolwide policy on late work
that the students have until midterm to get everything turned them. Some tweak it a little bit and
say, you have to the end of the unit, that they do get penalized, but they can turn it into work late.
It is hard because part of me wants to say I want the kids to turn in because two points better than
zero points but at what point do they learn that you do have to be responsible. Now some of that
is our culture right now. You can not pay your house payment for 10 months and stay in your
house. And I do think that that's also going on in our society. Like my husband is saying at his
job if he does not turn in the paperwork on time, that people will lose their money so their are
still deadline that have to be met. So at what point do we teach the kids that there is a
punishment. But again, are we supposed to be teaching do they learn the material, or are they
good citizen, and that is one thing that were talking about now, is should we put that stuff on
citizenship and talk more about that or do we keep it with academics? Begin, because we have a
very young faculty people don't opinionate very often at the faculty meetings they're just too
nervous. I've been on older faculties and they have no qualms speaking their mind but with it
being so many new and young teachers, they don't want to cause any problems. As you get older
your a little more likely to speak your mind I think. And I do myself, I internalize over that, what
is more important for me, what is expected of me to make sure that they learn the material, or to
make sure that they are responsible? Our administrators would give us leeway if we wanted to
make some adjustments like by unit, or by chapter, or whatever. They would give us that leeway
as long as we made sure that kids knew it. Our administrators are really easy to work with with
things like that. They are not like this is our way and you have to do it. But again, they are both


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newer too so that makes a difference they are more flexible than someone who's been a principal
for 20 years who are like it's my way or no way, you know.



How would you describe the relationship that exists between PLCs and the school's ability
to deal with change?

I think that it's pretty open. Not every department has to be the same. And they are okay about
that. Because there are differences, like if you have a big assignment in language arts and social
studies there's going to be a need to have more leeway on turning it in then daily math
assignments for the math teacher. Their piles of late work are enormous because kids are turning
it in late. So it does depend on what you teach in the administration understands that. Most of our
discussions with administrators have been about grading and I don't think it's just our school, I
think it's in general education right now, is that the information like all those tests like the no
Child left behind test's want to know, they don't care if the kids are responsible they want to
know if they know the information. Where does that responsibility come in?



Describe the ways in which you believe leadership can have an effect in supporting PLCs?

I think that the leadership that I have now is very much, let's take a few things work on them and
make them good. I have had leadership were each year it's kind of the new thing and they do
combine together but it was very overwhelming. I don't feel overwhelmed now. They sent us to
training, which is good to help us see what other schools are doing when they send us as
departments, which bonds us as a department that makes a huge difference because I really like
the people in my department because I've got to know them as a personal level too. They also
don't tell us that you have to do this for you have to do that. They say here are the things we are
looking for do how it matches your department. So like I said, math is completely different the
way you're going to teach and assess than language arts is and they do understand that. I also
think that each year they build on it, they don't keep changing what we're doing and that's really
important. The other thing that I think here that I don't feel like a couple people are doing
everything. Before, when I was with different staff, six or seven people who were making a
phenomenal school but there were a lot of people who weren't doing a thing and that's wearing
those six or seven teachers. All teachers here seem to do a pretty good job. They seem to follow
the PLC, but their new and so they think that's part of what they have to do. There aren't the
older teachers who are saying, oh, another change, another new idea, we already did this.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I think that the whole PLC idea, a lot of it we've always been doing its just a different way of
saying it. I do think that that whole idea of what do we do if they don't learn it is so important


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because in the past, when I started teaching, it was more if you didn't do it too bad you're getting
a zero and we didn't move on. And I think that that ideas that we care if you learn this or not.
This isn't your choice, it's so important. Like when I went to one of the PLC training and he said
we don't let kids decide. When you're under 16 they can't move out, you can't decide at 12 that
you want to get your drivers license we make all these other decisions, why are we letting them
choose to fail. And that really impacted me that we shouldn‟t give them a choice. And some
people don't agree with that, they think, they have to learn that if they fail there are consequences
and I do think that there other ways that they are going to learn that some of the information that
they're learning in middle school they need to know.




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English Teacher – School #3



Could you begin by giving me a brief overview of your professional educational
background?

After I graduated I taught one year in the Tintic school district and it was a 7-12th Junior/Senior
high with 110 kids and I was the English department. Then I moved to Vernal, Utah and taught
three years in an intermediate school, sixth and seventh graders, and then I moved to St. George
and taught for three years at Pineview middle school, 10 years at Snow Canyon middle school,
two years at Lava Ridge intermediate, three years at Fossil Ridge intermediate, and now I am
here and it's my third year here. That's a total of 25 years and I still love it, that's why I‟ve stayed
with it.



Given your role as a classroom teacher, what experiences have helped prepare you for this
position?

My major was psychology and I got sick of school so I went and I told them, I don't want to get a
masters right now and I'm sick of school so what can I do and they said go into teaching. So I've
never taught psychology I've always thought in my mind are which was English and the I don't
know I just like it. I liked the kids I like the energy, there is a lot of energy and I feel like it's kept
me young.



How would you describe the culture of your school?

Everybody's really willing and open to new ideas there are a lot of new teachers so I feel like
they‟re, they‟re not quite sure of themselves so they're always asking questions and even like the
vice principal will calm once in a while and say I'm doing this, this, and this, does this sound
good? I know you've been in a lot of different schools do you think that's okay? Everybody
always wants to learn, and be better and I really like what we're doing with a common
assessments being able to target the kids.



What role do you think principals play in designing cultures of change?

I think that they are the facilitators. I think that they are the ones who have encouraged us to do
the kind of things that were done and yet they‟re on the same level as we are, they're learning
along with us and so we are, there is no hierarchy or all learning at the same level I guess, or
whatever, and trying to apply it to all the kids.

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Can you explain what makes your school with PLC?

It just seems like, I've taught at a lot of schools where teachers just want to go into their
classroom, they want to do their own thing, don't bug me, type of thing, and here everybody is
always, like the science department wants to know what the English department is doing and
making this department wants to know what the history department is doing and there's just a lot
of overlapping I guess it's a good word for it. The band teacher came in to me today and said I'm
going to have my kids and turn essay contests and giving them bonus points which you give
them bonus points if they showed you the essay that their writing, there's just a lot of that,
cooperative learning I guess. And I feel like the kids feel like, oh I can kill two birds with one
stone, you know, I'm going to write this for my in this class but it's about history so my history
teacher is going to count it as something.



Can you describe the relationship between PLCs and school based change?

I've just seen a big, huge difference in my own teaching and to with the communication with the
other teachers it's more of a like a community not like individual to slots and, I don't know, I
think that parents see that and they can't see that. I've seen a big change coming to this school
and in being and this experience compared to being in some of my other schools. I like it. I feel
like to some extent the love of teaching, what I love, is gone because I am so slotted into to this
preassessment teach this, give this post assessment, rather than being able to say I want to teach
this novel and I can hit all these different aspects while I'm teaching that. I just feel like it's a
dictated. And I know that I'm teaching capitolization different than Mrs. Lee or that I'm teaching
an internal text structure different than Mr. Borat but I still feel like there's a certain amount of
serial that you are structured to teaching. You have to be on the same page, we have to be
teaching the same types of things each quarter, whereas one year you could say I want to teach
this in the first quarter and the next year you could say oh I taught this first quarter last year this
year all teach it... so I don't see a lot of variety. I've also noticed just in the state core curriculum
that teach eight and nine, and I've taught seventh, so seventh eighth and ninth thing never really
very much in the concept that your teaching, or teaching the same thing for three years in a row.
I'm not kidding, it really overlaps.



In your experience, what factors of the infrastructure at this school and won't PLCs?

We have a monthly faculty meeting this, a weekly department meeting, and then we have one
week a month that you have your own individual planning so were kind of locked into a system
that I kind of wished that we had common planning periods. If I had common planning period


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with Mr. Borat or even Mrs. Lee it would help us to collaborate a little bit better and I can't speak
for the science department or the math department because I'm not sure what there‟s are or if that
type of thing would help. We all have planning periods but they're all different periods so it's
hard to put together. So I think it's to history teachers could overlap they could... but they don't.



How do you do your remediation?

We went through how the kids scored on the block assessment, and the kids that have the lowest
percent of that, and so then we looked at our individual students, for example my student scored
really high on internal text structures and capitalizations so somewhere along the line of thought
that will are my kids guess well, one of the two, and so one day next week I'm taking all those
kids who scored low in that area that we targeted and that's what I will spend time with them
giving them more instruction, or letting them ask questions. So if each. Next week when teacher
will be taking them during their homeroom and hitting the other concepts are covered on the
block assessment.



What role do group dynamics play in PLCs and how are they managed?

I think the advantage that we have is that we came from so many different schools, when this
school was set up because of all the change in this area and so the first year here it was a school
for 6/7 and eighth graders and there are only two of us that came from Fossil Ridge and then you
had teachers from elementary school who came from the sixth grade and you had teachers from
intermediate schools that came for the seventh-grade middle schools for the eighth and ninth
graders and we were all just so new that it was easy for us to be able to kind of mesh because you
didn't have your clicks, you didn't have your groups, their negative thinkers, and that was good
for one year and then we split again and we brought new teachers on board, and we have a lot of
young teachers and I feel like the veteran teachers like myself are the kind of teachers that
welcome the change, were not the ones who were going to balk at something and have a bad
attitude about, were ready to try something new. I don't know about the others schools but I feel
like your desert hills we've come a long way.



How would you characterize your role in supporting PLCs?

I'm not sure where I fit in with that, I'm just and equal person. We've brought on board their
research teachers or this year when they come and attend their meetings but for having their
variety of the personalities in the background the four of us have on our team it's amazing how
well we work together and I don't feel like there's a dominant person in the four and I don't feel
like there‟s a flaky person, I think were all just pretty equal and supportive.

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Do you believe that this school each utilizes professional learning communities affectively?

I do believe that we use them effectively but I also know that there's always more new ways to
improve: additional information that you could gather there's always an opportunity to do better
or learn more or to implement it in a different way to make it more effective. I would say that I
don't feel at my classroom is as invaded as much as it was others schools. Someone was in my
classroom at least once a week, every week and I don't know if they administrators were trying
to learn who were if they were trying to if they had been at the classroom for so long they were
trying to get back in to see what was happening but boy it got to that point that my third year at
Fossil Ridge I found it went to them and said we'd never get to observe, and you're always in our
classrooms and that got really tiring, but again you have to step back and ask yourself is this is
going to be beneficial in the long run and we had people coming in from outside of our school
they had certain that the always took them to and I don't know whether that was because they
like the way our classroom was set up for the way it was run by kind of felt like they were
showing the diamonds and not showing the coal. And it eventually got really tired and I also felt
like because of the way we were trying to do things I don't know if it was the administration or
what but we've piloted every test every program that the state wanted us to pilot and and I felt
like we absolutely tested our kids to death one year over there. The kids got to the point where
they wouldn't even take the test seriously. PLCs are not going away. I got to the point when a
new program was introduced there were some of us that would say, okay, give it two years and
we‟ll go back to this way. Or give it two years and will be on to something new. You know, this
is not going away so we've got to somehow become organize it or do something with it that
makes it the best for the kids and not for everybody else because the kids are the ultimate, that's
who were working and how can we help them the best, how can we make them more successful,
or feel more successful? One of the things I still struggle with is on the test if you only have two
questions on capitalization and the kid misses one or could you say that they only understand
50% of that concept? So that's my question how do we test the kids better? Would it be better to
give a five-point test question every day of the week? And that's part of what's coming up and
our conversations in PLCs is that we're looking at our test scores are thinking, ya, it looks like
my kids did well on internal text structures but how many of them guessed? How many of them
could actually explain that concept to me?



Describe the ways in which you believe leadership can affect PLCs?

Administrators have to be out there more. They have to be out there, they have to be involved,
they have to be in our weekly meetings to see what were trying to do so that when parents come
and try to ask questions there is not a triangular effect. They administrators understand and know
what's happening. Like when parents ask questions like, why is my kid being tested so much, or

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wisest teacher giving this many tests and the other teacher is not? I think our administrative
leaders need to be out in the know exactly what's going on in all the departments in all the
different areas. I do like the fact that our administrators try to take teachers and go to conferences
and in instances like that they are on the same level as we are, you would never know that they
are the principal and I am the teacher. We are all in the same meetings, we are all learning the
same things and then it makes it so much easier to discuss these types of things. How do we set
this up? Or what do you want to do with this? So I appreciate that they do that. If we just had the
money that professional basketball players had we could dump that at this school or the actors
and actresses



Can you provide some specific examples of how your role has changed since beginning
PLCs?

I think at some of my others schools I was being told how to do it, or told what to do and I wasn't
really in the mix of this is what we want to do. There was a hierarchy dictating and here at this
school I am at that level, we're all at that level and we cooperate more and even though Ryan is
the department head and Ryan is the data Miner would we get together at the meeting were all on
equal footing and we all communicate as equals. Ryan values are opinions as much as anyone
else's. I really just feel like were on the same level. It's almost like oh, I've arrived. The fact that
make up of the school. I think this is a byproduct of our PLC system because we're trying to do
what we believe is a PLC and so because we are trying to do what we believe it is worth getting
those kinds of situations. So as we try to follow the tenets of PLC this is the result.



Can you provide specific examples of obstacles your school has faced in initiating,
implementing, and sustaining PLCs?

You're just always going to have veteran teachers who are not going to want to change the way
they taught all their years. One of the things that our administrators did differently here at desert
hills I don't feel like they handed me a book and said here, this is what we're doing. And I feel
like because they were new at it too we were all at ground level. At my other school they just
handed me a book and said this is what were doing, this is what we expect, and there really
wasn't that they were all going to do this together type of thing. It's, you're going to do this. I
didn‟t have a good attitude about it there. Because of the way it was trying to be flushed and to
us I just felt like. Here, I really think it's the way they introduced it. Here we all are, we all
understand this to some degree, and were all going to work at this together. And they just kept
saying, Brian and Brad, from day one, that does school was put into place, we‟re beginners just
like you were, we know that some of you have more experience than we have, and we welcome
your question. They're really open, really willing to sit down and discuss anything you want to
discuss. So again. You're just all on the same level. There is nobody up here saying this is what

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you're going to do and you know, they didn't shove books at us right away but maybe they just
figured that we understood it well enough, that we didn't need all that paperwork. They just
always been, everyone's been on the same level and it's just been so much easier too. And I
always feel like what may come into her classroom they are coming in to truly see our strength's.
It's a positive thing. Whenever the teams come in, whenever the principal comes in, it's always a
positive thing. Where as I felt like at some of the other schools even though it's supposed to be a
positive thing I felt like that it wasn't. It was never, may we come to your room, it was just, we're
coming, type of thing. Brian and Brad always ask us before they come in our room and they give
us thanks afterwards we appreciate it, it makes you feel like, you're not the assembly worker.
They even remind us that the company and they tell us why they're coming and even if they
haven't warned you ahead of time and may step in and spend a few minutes in the classroom and
then they leave, they always find time to tell you why, you know, I popped in. I was observing
such and such a kid who was in her class, or we wanted to see why there's a ruckus in your room
every third period. There‟s always a discussion afterwards. I had a principal once out in Vernal,
Dr. Murphy and to tell you what, you felt like he was way above you. And you never saw him,
he was never in the halls, he was never in the classrooms, so, yeah, there's a big difference.



Is there anything else you'd like to share?

If you stick with it and you go into it with an attitude that this is going to help all of us in the
long run and that it's going to be the most beneficial to the kids that it's going to work. Of course
there's going to be problems and there's going to be flaws there's going to be testy teachers,
there's always going to be that, but if you go into it knowing that it could really help, it will help.




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English Teacher (2) – School #3

Could you begin by giving me a brief overview of your professional, educational
background?

I did my degree in English education at BYU and was mayor from 1998 through 2002. And
that's basically it. I haven't got my masters yet, I'm planning on I just haven't done it quite yet. I
did my student teaching in Salt Lake, then I came down here and taught for two years at Dixie
high school and then I quit, and was hoping to quit for good because I did not have a fabulous
experience my first two years, those nightmare type of thing where you go oh, no wonder people
drop out of education, I hate it, so it was interesting to come back, especially to the school, which
is a polar opposite of my other experience. I've gone to and effective schools training and a loss
of six traits training and I'm planning on doing that Utah writers workshop this summer and so
their are things, I'm also taking an ESL class, but I haven't officially done anymore schooling.
Just my four year degree. I actually grew up in St. George so after college I got married and my
husband was from here so I moved back down here.

Given your role as classroom teacher, what experiences have helped you prepare for this
position?

I felt like like I have a practicum teacher now and she comes every Tuesday and she's been in
classrooms for two full years basically but she won't do her student teaching till next semester,
and I think to myself,, that would be great and we kind of started doing that when I was in
school, certain cohort things while I was there where we would spend three weeks in a school
before we did a student teaching experience. I found that, probably the experiences that I've
pulled on the most for becoming a classroom teacher are just, this sounds dumb, I have a theater
background, so just the ability to draw on thinking on your feet, improv stuff has really helped. I
feel like since I've come back to teaching after having about a three-year break, having my own
children has helped immensely, I have a son with special needs, he was diagnosed with autism at
two so when I sit in, especially on IEP's, I am so much more sensitive to what the parents are
thinking, to what the kids might be thinking, all of that. I find I have much more of a personal
connection. I think that also completely correlates to how I now support some of my lower
performing kids because the first two years, no matter what, you're just trying to get a grasp of
everything and I almost felt like, not that I was annoyed by my underperforming kids at all, but,
like, there is nothing I can do now. I with teaching 12th-graders. And I don't think even if I went
back and talked 12th-graders I would feel that same way now because even with my
underperforming kids in eighth grade I feel like I can really help these kids, and they're at a point
that they can still make leaps and bounds. I feel like that was a pretty decent change in my mind
set and a lot of it I think comes from having kids also a lot of it comes from having an
administration that's very much in support of PLCs and making sure that we've done everything
that we can for every kid.


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How would you describe the culture of your school?

Desert Hills middle school it's just amazing. I absolutely love it. I'm constantly touting it to
everyone I talk to. There‟s just such a great feeling here because we're all really interested in
these kids and to me it's amazing…we were all driving down to Scotsdale with my principal and
no matter what kid you bring up he knows their name and he knows their story. Between he and
Brad are assistant principal and our counseling department we know every kid and things that
will help with every kid and if we don't I've gone to the counselors on occasion and said Chris,
what do we need to do here with this kid and she'll either offer some suggestions on what she
knows where she'll facilitate like e-mail Pool and get all up teachers that have that particular
student together and we discuss it and see what works and what doesn't and stuff like that and it
never liked the punishment thing its always okay, how can we help this kid could improve and so
definitely in our school I think there's a huge culture of we want our kids to be successful. And I
just think that awesome.

What role do you think principals play in designing and sustaining cultures of improved
change?

I think they have a key and a very pivotal role. As an example I know that within my department
who use still doing a lot of old school ways, and that makes it harder all the rest of us and it
makes it harder on her student too. I feel like our principal has done such an amazing job of
setting the tone and saying this is what I expect, this is the policy on late work, and the
appropriate punishment for not getting work in is getting it done. And setting up a system and a
framework for what we're going to do for kids who are not achieving to their fullest... I think
that's all top down. Within certain departments it could be strengthened. That's the only place I
would hope that our administration would start doing better as far as, okay, we've talked with the
whole group and obviously there are still some people who are resisting the PLC implementation
lets talk with them directly and make sure we have an understanding, make a plan. I've talked to
Brian about this teacher, and I've talked to the counselors, and I've talked to department head but
it's like, anytime you're talking about someone's teaching a course it creates a whole lot of
feeling of being attacked because we as teachers put our whole lives to our profession so that can
feel like a direct attack. I don't feel like it's been like addressed like it needs to be… the teacher
comes to all the PLC activities it's more stuff that's happening in her classroom. We get together
as the department and identify our lower performing kids, and we've aligned all of our standards,
our assessments are all the same, everything we do is very well aligned so I think it comes down
to individual classrooms attitudes. I get, and the other teacher I work with, I've already had about
10 students transfer into my classes and my classes are already really full and the teacher I teach
next door to, he had this same issue, I think that she thinks that she does really well with high-
performing kids so let's get all of the lower performing kids out. And that's what happening so I
wish that our administration would address that more directly instead of just, I don't want to
make her feel bad, it's what sort of feels like.


                                                 231
Can you explain what makes your school a PLC?

I feel like we try to get as many people involved in the learning is possible that includes
community members, and things like that, let's go on learning walks, and see what's happening
classrooms. Last year we did all day learning walks this year they're only half days which I think
is a lot better. They get a group together, usually it's fairly small, maybe 20 people, we use
teachers from our school, maybe teachers to other schools that want to see, and even community
members, it just depends. And usually once a quarter they go and they talk about observations,
not critiquing, but observing, and we focus on different aspects, like what you observed that
formative assessments, what you observed that shows student engagement, and then we take
turns going to different classrooms for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time when they are able to
quietly observe. If kids aren't quietly working they are able to interact with students, then they go
on they talk and say these are the things that we observed and then were able to publish those
things, and talk about those things in faculty meeting and just say these are the things that seem
to be working really well. And I really like that because I feel like it has a more whole school
approach. Brad our assistant principal started them last year and we can substitute teachers and
for other teachers who have an open period to cover our classes. I think it's a great experience.
Also we really try to scaffold and to set up classes for struggling learners at least with language
arts because that‟s my discipline and we have our honors for ninth graders and regular language
arts for Art eighth-graders, we also have right underneath that a read 180 and this year we
enrolled them simultaneously in a read 180 and a regular language arts class so that the transition
back won't be so jolting. Below reading 180 we also have resource reading but even beyond that
for anyone struggling we have enhancement classes for anyone who wants to get extra help its an
elective credit type thing but they are able to get extra help, and keep up with things especially if
they are struggling in math. Another thing we started doing by departments is with our common
assessments would look at our lower performing students and then we look at the standards
connected to that end we pull our lower performing kids out during homeroom time, which I
guess is another scaffolding issue to help kids in certain areas, we pulled them during homeroom
time and teach separate classes to catch different standards or objectives that they might have
missed. Sometimes we separate the students based on what they missed, but I know that the math
department separates them, what we are doing is that we are each taking turns taking three
different concepts and we figure if they are lower performing it's not going to hurt them to hear
this information more than once anyway and so we've tried to hit everything that's on that
particular block of the test. And that's only for a four or five day session during homeroom which
is only a 25 minute thing but we really try to focus, to get smaller groups happening, and
hopefully... we follow Odgen City Schools who has a system of assessments that they‟ve broken
down the English core to four blocks and so we go by those block tests and they correspond with
the quarters and we give a pre-assessment at the beginning and they post-assessment at the end.
When we meet as a group in PLCs every week we really try to nail down, we look at our
individual classrooms results, and like Mary had much more growth on the certain concepts than
I did and so we looked at the results and said, what were you teaching here, how did you teach it

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differently, we are constantly trying new things trying to see what works. This year it will be
interesting to see because we have kids concurrently enrolled in read 180 as well as their regular
language arts class, and we did last year. It will be nice to see if this makes a difference, and I'm
hoping that it will. Brian our principal and Brad our assistant principal will pop their heads into
our PLC meetings every once in a while and we of course send minutes from our meeting to
them every week.

What role do you think culture plays in the school's ability to change?

I think it definitely helps. As the PLC it really does seem like we are always, as a school, trying
to do something new, department wise, always trying to do something new. I think that they go
hand in hand. It's neat to change and evolve goes right along with PLC. At the beginning of the
school year the administration does the introductory faculty meeting and Brian, the principal,
said, I'm not going to put a lot of new information out there because I think it's really important
that we get back to remembering that we are a PLC and what it means, examples of what I‟ve
seen, this is where we all need to be. Brian talked a lot about, almost his conversion to PLC,
from being a teacher, I taught that textbook, boy did I teach the textbook, realizing having his
kind of epiphany that this is not it, this is not what I'm supposed to be doing, so he shared a lot of
personal stories that way. He does give examples although he doesn't usually attach a name. He
says I thought this happen in certain classrooms, I really appreciate that, he doesn't ever talk
about a negative example or something that's not happening that he would like to see. He's just
more of a positive, let's just... good things, you know. Brad, our assistant principal, does try to
put everyone on the same page as far as late work, behavior issues, what steps the school should
take, and what steps we should be using in our classrooms. To me it feels like the way they have
it set up where we meet so often with our departments, its very purposeful and I know now that
it's definitely attached to money. Last year I didn't feel like it was like that. We still did
everything but I do like the way that that is set up as opposed to my experiences at Dixie high
where it was very much isolating and completely up to department chairs when we met, it was
never from the top down. Pretty much anyone could do what ever they wanted. That was a very
different atmosphere from here. Because it does feel like, especially from the administration, that
we are expected to do this and I would just hope that it was followed through.

What factors of the infrastructure of this school influence your school's PLC?

I feel like the very conscious effort to set up these safety net for these ways to help
underperforming learners by our administration, by our counselors, and put everyone is what I
really think sets it apart as a professional learning community. I know that every week the pulls
kids who are failing and or are near to failing a class and they pulled them and ask them why and
they talk to them if they need help they help them and they are completely devoted... and I guess
it could be construed that we only care about grades but I don't think that that is the point at all. I
think it's that we want these kids to succeed and not just at the end of the quarter but throughout
the entire school year. The counseling department, I really feel is one of the keys to helping

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really implement that, look at kids who are struggling before they reach the point of just giving
up and saying, okay what are our options, I know you love woodshop, but we're going to take it
away for a little bit and give you enhancement and see how well you do. I'll meet with you every
Thursday at this time and will work on this they really try to facilitate a lot of communication
between the student and between the teacher and parents, they're just a great safety net. We're
trying to create a system where if we have a question with a kid we can immediately talk to other
teachers who have the same student, but we're not there yet.

How would you characterize your role in supporting PLCs?

I would characterize my role as a facilitator, and evaluator, and I think I almost feel too much
responsibility for helping these kids succeed and when they don't or when things at home are too
hard over there just aren't able to get anything done, then I do feel like I've failed them. In that
way it's hard that my job is to do everything I possibly can to make sure that they learn the things
they're supposed to and that they achieve the things that I think they're supposed to, or the Utah
State office of education says that they're supposed to, and so I think that's a huge responsibility.
And I'm happy to be able to rely on so many different resources that our school provides like the
counseling department, like enhancement classes like to read 180 and at the beginning of the
year our reading 180 class was tiny and we tested and I sent lists of kids and they all got retested
and placed accordingly, and I thought that was extremely helpful. And we didn't do that last year.
It was almost halfway through the year that it was really apparent that it wasn't just a behavior
issue or just laziness issue, it was an issue that this kid can't read. I just felt awful that it got that
far and this year I felt like we tackled it at the very beginning and I hope that will see a lot of the
growth from there.

Do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?

I feel like we address all the PLC things during our weekly meetings but I don't feel like we have
to personally account for a lot of those ideas. We do talk about assessment, we do talk about
what we did cover certain objectives and standards, but I don't think that we, at least for my
team, there is definitely the elephant in the room and is it being brought up no, because we are all
too nice. I have actually talked directly with my team leader about it, and with the counselors as
well because they were having obvious concerns with like 50 kids who were getting f‟s and
having all these parents wanting to transfer their children out, so this one teacher does do well
with students who aren't getting f‟s., That are going to learn anyways. And so I have talked with
our department head about that. And it seemed to cause way more issues than anything that got
fixed from it. So no, I wouldn't say that I am personally doing anything other than to trying to
stay on top of it, all of my 7 classes that have 36 kids because they keep getting filled up. We do
two classes in the morning and two classes in the afternoon with a homeroom in the middle
during lunch. And our periods are 72 minutes.




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Last year our principal had various people present certain things and he had me present
something with a formative assessment tool because we focused on formative assessments last
year and that's also continued a lot this last year. Our principal and assistant principal try to keep
our faculty meetings very short and very perfunctory. They are constantly saying, I know you'd
rather be in their classrooms, and since like 90% of our staff is male, which isn't exact but we
really do have a lot of male teachers, I was just exaggerating, I would say it's more like 70%. So
all lots of them to coaching on the side and our principal and assistant principal are very aware of
that and always keeps things very short. So are there tons of conversations that are conducted
collaboratively during faculty meetings? No. Usually at the beginning of the year, and maybe
one time halfway through the year. They basically leave most of the professional development
up to the departments, I would think. Ryan our staff developer has introduced certain things in
the past, provided all of us with different types of formative assessment tools, like little recipe
cards, but so formative assessment ideas, and I put them up all over on my filing cabinet to keep
them in mind and in view. And they do say, the principal, AP and staff developer, are going to
come around to classrooms and this quarter this is what we are focusing on, here's the rubric of
what we're looking for, we're going to be observing, just so you know, so I'll walk through in
essence. So in the last couple of months I've seen all three of them in my classroom. They try to
get to every classroom at least once a quarter, at least one of the three. After they come in
sometimes we meet with them personally if not we always receive written feedback and we
usually get a candy bar. It's all part of their positive reinforcement, here's this, and here's a treat.

Do you believe your school utilizes PLCs effectively?

 Yes, I really do. I think there are aspects that we can work on more and I think that we are trying
to address those, the difference even from last year to this year has been impressive as far as
what we're doing to come up with creative ways, different ways to really try and bridge the
achievement gap and to really help struggling learners. At times sometimes I think we leave the
higher performing kids out, and that's one aspect that I think we could focus more on. But as far
as embodying the model, I really believe that we do. Our principal and AP have always set out
Monday afternoons for our PLCs, no matter what, were either in faculty meeting or were doing
our PLC groups. And if we do have issues with that, because we do have so many coaches, they
have to reschedule it among ourselves and that we all have to be in agreeance and we all have to
stick to it. If I could offer a suggestion, I do feel like, yes, we are doing so much for the
underperforming kids but I wish we could focus more on and maybe create an honors class,
create some more opportunities for our really advanced kids instead of just focusing on the
lower.

Describe the way in which you believe leadership can have an effect on supporting effective
PLC?

I think that our principal and AP have worked really hard in setting our schedule up so that we
have all these other classes, so we scaffold it that way, and they‟ve been really didn't

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instrumental in doing that. I know that Brian our principal was really instrumental in seeking out
this one particular teacher, she's not a math teacher but she's so good with it that we call it math
enhancement and essentially she's there to really help these kids with math.

How has your position changed since PLCs?

I feel like my position has changed because I'm able to have a team. Not just my PLC team but
with the counselors and the administration, I feel like I have a lot of recourse, and extra help
whereas before it was only me. It was what I could do what I couldn‟t do. I believe that there is a
definite relationship between our PLCs and my ability to help my students. I have their resources
to be up to help the kids that need more than I can give them. So it's not just me. I know that their
needs will be met by someone else and then I don't feel like I have to be the ultimate, I need help
when I have kids that are reading in the fourth grade level and I believe that that support is set up
because of PLCs. I love this school. The relationship that I have with the counselors that I know
that they know every kids background and I know that I can go to them and we can make
something work if it's not working. And secondly, I know that Brian our principal and Brad our
AP are aware of most things that are happening and I can go to them if something is not working
for an idea. And that very open communication I think is key.




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Math Teacher – School #3



Could you begin by giving a brief overview of your professional educational background?

I attended a four year college and graduated with a bachelors in mathematics with an emphasis in
teaching. After that I got a job teaching here in the St. George District and I'm currently taking
Masters classes working towards a masters in education through Southern Utah University. This
is my first teaching job and it's my third year here.

As a classroom teacher what experiences have prepared you for this position?

I've had opportunities to teach groups of students either through church callings also to coach
Little League. I remember when I started college I thought I'm going to go and be a math teacher.
But then I shy away from that and went towards business administration but I wasn't really
feeling like that was what I wanted to do either. And I remember helping one of my college
roommates with his math assignment and for some reason I thought all excited doing it and I
thought, you know what, I'm going to be a math teacher. So I changed my major and ended up
with my degree in math.

How would you describe the culture of your school?

I believe we have a culture of high expectations with an emphasis on personal responsibility. I
think our administrators are very very good at holding those standards and expectations high.
And in helping the students to be accountable for their success and their mistakes. One thing that
really stands out about this school is that for the most part teachers really care about students.
They really want them to succeed and they really care about their jobs and they understand their
position as a teacher and the influence that they can have on the students. So any student coming
into this school compared with any other school would know that the teachers really do care. I
think part of it was the hiring process because when our administrators were putting together the
staff I think that was one thing that they looked for was teachers that would actually care and
have an interest in the students and in their lives and their well-being. It's also come from our
principles attitude toward our positions as teachers and he demonstrates that he cares about
students and he conveys that to us and it's kind of contagious. One thing that our administrators
have focused on is learning every student's name, I don't know if they have them all but I know
that they know most of them. Our principal will do special recognition for students that are
excelling such as student of the week. He supports the honor roll, the honor students, he's very
supportive of that program it seems like the way that he interacts with students like he'll give
them praise when they deserve it also when they need a reprimand he is very straightforward
with them but also supportive and shows his confidence in them either by telling them that they
can do better, he has confidence in their ability to make better decisions.


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What role do you think administrators play in designing cultures of self sustaining change?

I've seen our AP Brad especially, he's very supportive of intervention programs such as math
enhancement, he'll also take advantage of the homeroom time students have, and he'll go to the
teachers and say here are some suggestions to structure the homeroom times so it's most effective
for the students so they get specific suggestions and help and guidance. He will also utilize lunch
detention where the students can't go to the common area for lunch but half to attend detention
with a teacher and he usually oversees it for students either get caught up on their homework and
sometimes it's a punishment for bad behavior but for the most part it is a support system for the
students. A lot of times as teachers will come up with an idea for an intervention for students and
so will approach our administrators and say this is what we would like to try and they will
bounce some ideas off with us, this will work, this won't work, I think it's a good balance
because he doesn't always come and say you have to do this, he gives a suggestion, on what we
might be able to do this. In my opinion I think it would be great if the administrators or more
forward with regards to picking a plan for all the departments, for all the teachers. I know a lot of
teachers are hesitant to say, oh, we have to do it this way because the administrators say so, but I
think it would be a lot more effective if we were all on the same system. The math department
wants to do an intervention for their test and they want to do it at this time and in this way and
that probably conflicts with how another department wants to theirs. So I think if there was a set
system for everybody to use, I think it would be a lot more effective. One example was, we had a
teacher that if the students didn't take the test or failed the test she sent a note to them telling
them they were automatically in lunch detention until they have the test done for a good score on
it. So we talked as a math apartment and asked whether or not we could all do that and we were
told it wouldn‟t work. She did it once, I don't know if she got it approved or if she had to were
not what I thought at the time, well, that‟s a good idea, why not just put everybody was falling
behind in lunch detention until they get caught up. But we were told that the logistics of that just
wouldn't work, which makes sense, but I don't think it's fair to pick and choose who gets to do
what.

Can you explain what makes your school a PLC?

I think we're on the path to becoming an actual PLC. We've had training, we kind of get the
picture of what it's supposed to look like, we have several elements in place but are working on
some more. What it looks like here, as a department, we all do common assessments, there is a
little bit of variation with a quiz or a daily assignment, but the tests are all the same for the
algebra classes of the geometry classes. The big thing this year is scheduling and making sure
every one is doing the same thing on the same day. Last year at this time people were way
behind in some people who are way ahead which created a problem when the kid had to change
classes. We haven't necessarily been consistent with this, but we use the common assessments to
diagnose what challenges the students have more mistakes were making a teachers we haven't
done that very much but I think were getting there. We are giving the benchmark test every
quarter and looking down to see if there are certain areas that the kids are struggling in.
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Something that has come up just recently, is the idea that that the learning process shouldn‟t end
as soon as a student turns in the assignment and I give them the score, great you got it, or sorry
you only got five at 10, better luck next. Traditionally, in the past, we don't give them the next
time, that's your score or, maybe on the next assignment you can do better. But it's a different
concept and different material but what were really recently doing a giving the students a chance
to fix the mistakes on any assignment. So I guess philosophically to extend their learning process
the idea that the learning process continues. So when a student turns something I say, hey, you
may want to look at that again but I don't give them the right answer. I just say okay, that one is
wrong, that one is wrong, go back and look at your answers. And then they'll hand it back in,
some of them are right and some of them are wrong again, so I'll hand it back. Sometimes they
get frustrated, but I think that they're learning from their mistakes, so when they're finally done,
they know all the mistakes they‟ve made and they‟ve learned from them. We didn't really talk
about this concept as a team, a couple of us just started doing it, until we had done a few
assignment that way. I think it fits the idea of PLC, and that you don't just leave the students
behind you really focus on giving them whatever they need to succeed. In the past we sometimes
just did it for them or just gave them the answer so you didn't have to deal with them anymore.
But this way it really makes them work for what they're getting and it's all come from this big
cloud of ideas that we call PLC, our heads are up in it and it doesn't always make sense that
things are starting to fall into place. Anyway, when we started it it seemed to align with our goals
for PLCs.

What role do you think your school culture plays in influencing the school's ability to
adjust change?

As far as the scale of taking on change we are in about the middle. I think our administrators
know not to push things. I think they have a very good balance giving us ideas and things that
they want to see without pushing it on us. They will give us examples of what they consider
effective teaching and usually classify it as an idea or a suggestion. Recently we had a faculty
meeting and our principal did a PowerPoint presentation on the concept of late work, for
assignments and things and he said the old concept of giving a student at zero because they didn't
do something or didn't do it correctly, and you know, maybe this is where I got that idea to have
students correct their own work... he said the whole concept of giving them a zero, what does
that do for them? And he kind of illustrated it, oh, I got a zero, that's the most inspirational thing
that's ever happened to me, I'm going to change all of my ways, he said that a lot of students
giving them a zero means they're done, they don't have to worry about it, it's in the past. And he
said that punishment for not doing their work should be a zero, the punishment for not doing the
work should be to do the work. And so you set up a system or guidelines that if they don't do
something, or don't do it correctly, make them do it, and do it correctly. It's kind of like with
those assignment that I've been doing. And so he presented the concept of making the students
accountable, holding them accountable to get their work done and do it correctly, when he
started though, he just showed a video clip and he told us, I know a lot of you guys are on this

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already, it's almost like a disclaimer before he starts, he says this is just an idea, something to
think about. My impression is that it's a subtle way for the principal to say, this is what I see
without telling us you have to do this. So it's not forceful at all, but I got the impression in the
ways that he said it that he wanted us to do it. I really appreciate how he does it because when I
feel like there's just program after program or new Systems it just seems overwhelming. I guess
for me I have my own preferences of what I want structured and what I don't. Their are some
things I appreciate that the administrators don't force on us, and I guess as a teacher I feel better
be able to choose to do it or not rather than feel forced to do it. And I think part of the reason for
that is that I can try it out, I can mess up, I can succeed, I could make it work for me, before it's
actually required, so I have the time to actually make it work for me. To implement it on my own
time. Often our administrators will come in for an observation and then usually right after school
or during my prep hour, we'll go over the observation notes and they'll say okay, this is what I
saw, this is maybe a suggestion to improve. So the one on one visits when they can sit down and
explain what I did and what they thought I could do to improve in a given situation seems very
effective to me and I know things that I have implemented, different ways to do assessment,
different ways to encourage students to work together.

Do group dynamics influence the PLC process and how are they managed?

A couple of teachers don't really care how the PLC meetings go, as far as the technical thing, the
way we do things, and so were fairly open to change and doing things in a different way for the
most part. But there is one teacher who has taught for several years and is set in her ways like to
keep it that way. It works for her, but I kind of get the impression that it doesn't work for all of
her students or they wouldn't be checking out of her class, so usually in the PLC will talk about
ideas and will go to the teacher and say, is this going to work for you, because it works for
everybody else and were okay with it and willing to try it. I usually the one that comes up with
new ideas either something I learned in my college class or something I've heard from another
teacher in a different department, so I usually bring more new ideas than anyone else, they don't
always work, but they're really good about trying them. Here's what will happen, I'll say I tried
this and it worked out, and Mrs. Anderson will say, oh, that sounds like a good idea, I'm going to
try that. Then Mrs. Espedeske will say, well, I've always done it this way, but she's kind of
breaking down a little bit social try new things. She taught for 22 years I think that she'll try
something and then usually just let it fade off, she's very structured. The others bring ideas as
well, even Mrs. Espedeske , who's a little more set in their ways, will try something on her own
and then bring it to the group and say this is something that I've thought of or that I have tried,
and usually, because her input is so rare, we usually implement it because it usually works,
because she has a lot of experience and it comes and goes. Ms. Anderson also brings some ideas
usually hers are, and it might just be me, I don't always take her ideas, I think it has to do, she
comes from a background of elementary Ed school teaching and I've always had secondary
experiences and making things cute and fluffy and things like that, for me, I have no idea what
the basic concept is that they're supposed to learn. But I'm willing to do those things if they know

                                                 240
the concept and then they can use it on something cute and fluffy but to teach it with all these
weird ideas attached to it just can't do it and a lot of these ideas have an attachment to it. So I
tried a few of her ideas, but for me in my personality, doesn't work. But when we do come
together and very often will say, does this work for you, does this work for you, are we all on
board to try this and we'll say ya, and we'll all do it. My thoughts going into a meeting our Mrs.
Anderson has some stuff to unload, mainly just to vent about whatever so I have something to
throw in, I just hope that she doesn't have this so much to vent about that I'll be there for a long
time. Usually she's frustrated with students or things that we're trying to do. We talked about the
interventions and how one teacher could do this, so usually it is work related, but she'll throw all
that in usually between the stuff that‟s actually on each. For the next thing on the agenda will
bring something up her mind that she wants to vent about. I think there is a lot of improvement
could be made in our PLC meetings but I've never walked away and said, oh, that's a waste of
time. Maybe close, but...

I actually did my student teaching with Brad our assistant principal, and he's actually very open
and honest with me and I appreciate it. If I take an idea to him and he thinks it stinks, he will let
me know or if there's something I do really well he's right there to tell me, oh, that's great. This
really looks good.

We established group norms I know one of them is to be on time, but they're pretty laid back, I
have them in my classroom. I think for the most part we really do try to push the PLC concepts
as far as our team of interaction that were going. Keeping a professional, sometimes things will
come up like non-work related that people like to vent about or students that we talk about, but
maybe we probably shouldn't but for the most part we know the direction that we're supposed to
be going I just think they are some things that we could tighten up.

Do you believe your school utilizes PLC effectively?

I think many parts of it we are. Specifically, collaborative assessments, and common assessments
and putting those assessments together and using them to guide instruction. Another science
department is really on board with that, taking their assessments of determining where they need
to go from there. Revisiting some concepts or other concepts that they don't need to go into much
detail, so overall that's one thing that I think we have. Whenever I run into one of the science
teachers I'll ask them how to teach you this, and how did this workout for you, and how did you
do this assessment. So we'll ask each other but there is no overall structure or program for that.
Administrators will have somebody from the departments get up and faculty meeting and share a
few ideas, presents the concept or process, or a method they used that's been successful. It's been
meaningful for me in that it's given me some ideas that I can implement and a few of them I
have. More than that it's just talking to teachers on a one-to-one basis which is probably most
effective for me.




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