I’m not sure if teachers dreaded faculty meetings more than I did, but while standing in an auditorium filled with tired-looking faculty after a long day of teaching, I sometimes had this thought: If I did a dance or paused unsuspectingly, would that gain their attention, even if only for a moment?

We ask teachers to sit and focus at their lowest energy cycle of the day. It’s no wonder—as with kids—we see distractibility, disinterest, and frustration. Absenteeism rose by 10 percent on faculty meeting Mondays. That’s 12 faculty members absent, more than double the average absentee rate.

Something had to be done to change faculty meetings. Otherwise, students lose: Absent teachers make learning harder and kids are in greater need of a positive and present adult influence in school more than ever.

So, what could we do? Drawing on research on effective professional learning communities (PLCs), I developed a PLC model, wrapped around a focus on learning, results, and timely and relevant information. How do you do this with a faculty of 100+?

A model for any school, department, or level
Breaking the process into parts is the key factor in executing the roadmap. Here’s how it works at our middle school:

Here's how to start a PLC movement in your school #PD #edtech #edchat

Four administrators oversee eight departments: language arts, math, social studies, science, world languages, arts, technology, and physical ed/health. You can facilitate with a lead teacher, specialists, or coaches and/or supervisor. Each facilitator takes a core subject in the first and a non-core subject in the second category. For instance, I was assigned to math and world languages. These two departments meet (separately) in nearby rooms.

Next, you need to set the stage to execute a successful faculty PLC. Google Forms are nifty, free, and accessible. They let you gather information easily, quickly, and efficiently. Before a meeting, we email faculty members the Google Form.

 

About the Author:

Dr. Michael Gaskell has been principal of Hammarskjold Middle School in East Brunswick, N.J. since 2006, following experience as a special educator and assistant principal in Paramus, NJ. Gaskell achieved his doctorate in educational leadership in 2014 and continues to model the pursuit of lifelong learning as he serves as a mentor to new principals in other schools through the NJEA Leaders to Leaders program. In his work as a principal, he works tirelessly to support instructional excellence, his faculty, the district, and, most important, the children as benefactors of idea sharing.


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