“A coach tells you what you don’t want to hear so that you can see what you don’t want to see so that you can be what you have always wanted to be.” - Tom Landry
As the Coquitlam community continues its discourse on our “Dream” and it’s attending core values I am continually confronted with “communities of practice” in the schools I visit. Recently I was introduced to an interesting example of “Project Based Learning” at Montgomery Middle, intriguing strategies to teach science at Summit Middle and primary teachers from multiple schools and districts building a framework for early learning. I was intrigued and proud that fellow teachers would be so focused on strategy, outcome for learners and collaboration. Their work was a reminder of my earlier examination of Professional Learning Communities as espoused by Wenger, Hord and later Dufour. A review of some of the research on effective PLCs is worthy of review. In 2005, Southwest Regional Labs identified five key attributes of PLCs:
1. Collegial and facilitative participation of the staff and principal; shared leadership.
2. Unswerving commitment to student learning.
3. Collective professional learning applied to practical solutions addressed to student needs.
4. Visitation, sharing and review of each teacher’s classroom strategies and results by peers with feedback directed at individual and community improvement: Deprivatized practice.
5. Physical conditions and human capacities that support learning.
Rick DuFour (1998) suggested that PLCs must engage teachers in examining student work, collaborative inquiry and coaching for improvement. Leadership is essential to a proper functioning of any collaborative venture among professionals. That leadership is not vested in position but in orientation and approach.
James Haner, business consultant, details the skills that define good team and individual leadership.
- Embrace integrity
- Build trust
- Establish a “servant’ leadership role
- Collaborative communication
- Effective decision making
- Employing emotional intelligence
- Aligning vision and goals
- Managing change
Every collaborative effort requires us to be leaders and also at times followers. Ira Chaleff in his book “The Courageous Follower” suggests the following dimensions to courageous followership:
1. The courage to assume responsibility
2. The courage to serve
3. The courage to challenge
4. The courage to participate in transformation
5. The courage to take moral action
Effective PLCs, which I observe in our schools daily require leadership and followership. The proper application of both will be required as we further develop our “Implementation Framework” for our Coquitlam version of 21st Century Learning.
“”The relevant question for the learning organization is not, “Who is in charge?” but rather, “How can we best get results?” - DuFour & Eager