I’ve had to put this day off simply because I’ve just been trying to catch up with everything at home. An 8 hour van ride with crazy fun people, then church, a salad lunch, watching my daughter play basketball, and finishing out cleaning my room, whew! Life does get in the way of things sometimes! 🙂
Anyway, last Saturday (June 9) was the final day of PLC training in St. Louis. I’d spent the night awake, partially because of two Diet Cokes (caffine at night is suddenly my enemy) and partially because of all the stuff bouncing around in my head related to PLCs and our district. How can we do this? How to we hold people (myself included) accountable for this good work we need to do? In what ways to do we need to present this in a way that’s not threatening, yet, forceful enough that all know, you are with us or you are with us. This is not an invitation.
Our first breakout session was about data. I’m a numbers kind of guy, so I enjoyed this completely. I loved the way that the “big number” was broken down into subgroups, then those subgroups were broken into the classes that students were taking. He was able to use the data to show that grade point averages and performances on high stakes tests were not always lining up, and to show, class by class, how they looked. No, data is not always kind, but it is objective, so we can use those numbers to better ourselves. I look forward to being able to take our own data use it more so in this fasion.
Our final speaker was Mike Mattos, and what a speaker he was. I was very much expecting a “rah rah” keynote, but was pleasantly surprised at his message. It was littered with facts about students who, because of their lack of education or learning, will end of in poverty, jail, or dead well before their time. It gave me chills to listen to him talk about the need to “do the work for the right reasons” and how “some people make things, we make the future.” That quote has stuck with me since that time, and will be something I post in my classroom. We do, as educators, make the future, and as I’ve stated before, this is just the right work to do, professional learning communities. It will be difficult and require a chance in mind set by many, but how can we not? How can I seriously allow a student in my classroom to slide by when our group could help to lift him/her away from a life much more difficult?
All in all, I would attend this conference yearly if I could. To be around 1,400 like minded people, all talking about the same thing, using the same verbiage, with the same questions and concerns is awe inspiring it itself. But our team, myself, two other elementary teachers, and three middle school teachers, we will do great things. It will take time, but our work, along side the work of the first group that went last year, will create a culture at our school that will be second to none. As you may have guessed, this is something I believe can help our students in ways we don’t even realize yet. If we can hold ourselves together, hold our norms steadfast, then nothing is impossible because our staff, focused on the right work, will do what is best for all students.