A LYS Principal submits: After attending DuFour’s presentation, it is clear to me how ground breaking the entire concept of PLCs are. E. Don Brown was working on “Breaking Ranks,” DuFour was tinkering with early versions of the PLC concept, both in an early attempt to improve schools. But in some ways education is like theoretical physics. The work Newton did is not invalid, indeed, it is pure genius and will continue to be taught for centuries. However, Einstein’s work does a better job of explaining and predicting physical processes while still predicting the same results that Newton’s ideas did. In theoretical physics this is called Bohr’s Correspondence Principle, don’t ask me how I know. Let’s look at the sum of DuFour’s work: common formative assessments, improving instructional models, and the understanding that we must monitor what we want to improve. Those ideas were in DuFour’s presentation, although the three were not brought together and emphasized. Do they sound familiar? As in Cain’s Foundation Trinity? Now we look at the PLC model. DuFour uses common formative assessments to determine if students are learning. If the data shows that students in Room 1 are doing better than the students in Room 4, then the teacher in Room 4 will benefit from talking professionally with the teacher in Room 1. Which, of course, makes perfect sense. HOWEVER, we no longer need to talk about instruction in order to discover what good teachers are doing. Good teachers are using individual elements of the Fundamental Five, and always have. Having teachers meet in a PLC format, using discovery learning techniques to improve instruction is effective, but inefficient given our current level of knowledge. Accountability is moving too fast, our students are too far behind, and we must abandon the traditional PLC model, IF the purpose of the PLC is to improve instructional delivery and student outcomes. The Foundation Trinity and the Fundamental Five will give us those answers just as effectively and much more efficiently than DuFour’s PLC model. This is not to say the PLC model is dead, indeed far from it. But we must refer to another principle of science, Occam’s Razor: the most succinct solution is the preferable solution. We simply need to focus the PLC on what we know: the most effective and efficient way to improve student outcomes is to better implement Foundation Trinity and the Fundamental Five. To paraphrase Isaac Newton, if we have seen farther, it is because we have stood on the shoulder of giants. Dr. DuFour and E. Don Brown are truly giants, but with Foundation Trinity and the Fundamental Five, we now have the ability to see further. SC Response First, thank you very much for the kind words. I really don’t know how to respond to such praise. So I will just acknowledge it and we’ll move on. Second, there are two inter-related factors at work that have a significant impact on both the understanding and implementation of PLCs. Both of which Brown and DuFour did not have to deal with when they were making their breakthroughs. The work that I did and continue to do was based on how to implement their ideas while working around, under, over and through those factors. The first factor is the issue of leading in emergency and crisis situations. Effective leadership is situational and follows a continuum. At one end of the continuum is emergency leadership and at the other end is capacity building leadership. The leadership styles at both ends of the continuum are more dissimilar than similar. Emergency leadership requires almost dictatorial control with little opportunity for reflection and second guessing. Picture Churchill. Capacity building leadership requires collaboration, shared inquiry, discussion, compromise and consensus. Picture Chamberlin. Those gifted in leading at one end of the continuum, often struggle (and fail) when forced to lead in situations at the other end of the continuum. Again, picture Churchill and Chamberlin. Now, I was familiar with the work of Brown, DuFour, et al. But I was also aware that the setting in which their work was incubated was at the capacity building side of the continuum. My job was to translate the tenor of their work in an environment with no time for collaboration, no room for error and no energy for wasted steps. That meant we were editing out every act and practice that wasn’t mission critical. And this is the most important part, we had a discretionary budget that was unprecedented, a Petri dish of schools that had never before been made available and tools that until that point had yet to be invented. The second factor was punitive accountability. This was new. There had been accountability before but there was no penalty for failure. In fact, the only accountability that mattered was internal and personal accountability. This is what made the Brown’s, DuFour’s, and their ilk special and unique. They pushed the envelope and created new knowledge due to their unparalleled personal drive and conviction. But without punitive accountability it allowed everyone to believe that every school operated at the capacity building end of the continuum. So every schools leadership model was designed around this flawed assumption. Punitive accountability stripped away this facade and threw schools into emergency and crisis mode. The leaders operating in this new environment were ill prepared to deal with this reality. And those not in this new environment were unable to provide any meaningful support (no experience base). Quickly recognizing that the issue was a system problem not a personnel problem, we realized we had to streamline and rebuild the system. Which is what we did. The big surprise for us, was not that we figured it out (after all, as your pointed out, we were standing on the shoulders of giants), it was what we developed worked all across the continuum. The hard part of the job is convincing educators that have been focused on adult comfort and that they need to shift their focus to student performance. As you are so well aware. Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn… Now Available on Amazon.com! “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction” http://tinyurl.com/4ydqd4t Follow Sean Cain on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation Upcoming Event / Presentation Schedule June 11 (TASB) – The Fundamental Five; Improve Now! June 15 (TASSP) – Improve Now! June 16 (TASSP) – Conference Breakfast, hosted by E. Don Brown (LYS travel tumblers for the first 1000 attendees, last year we ran out) June 16 (TASSP) – Book Release Event, “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction” June 16 (TASSP) – Fundamental Five; Tech Tools for the 2.0 Principal June 17 (TASSP) – PowerWalks June 18 (TASB) – The Fundamental Five; Improve Now!

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