Education Week - November 9, 2016 - CW4
The Changing Face of Literacy
Vol. 36 * Issue 12 * November 9, 2016 * $5
have to go it alone
By Aaron Hansen
"How does all of this PLC stuff
work when I'm the only one in
my school who does what I do?"
If you're thinking this, you are
Band, auto mechanics, welding, physics, consumer science, reading, technology, choir, special ed, art,
K-5 in a small school, psychology, speech, business,
drama, dance, graphic design, counseling . . . the list
goes on and on.
and teachers attend a PLC at
Work™ Institute, listen to a
PLC turnaround story, or
read one of the books about
this topic and immediately
see the potential power that
the PLC framework offers.
They get it: Working
together achieves so much
more than working alone.
So they start by organizing
collaborative teams. Math
teachers with math teachers,
science teachers with science
teachers, language arts with language arts, the band
teacher with . . . uh, well, hmm. Wait a minute! What
about that band teacher?
A similar problem occurs for many small schools.
For example, a small elementary school may have
just one teacher per grade level or even one teacher
for multiple grade levels. A small secondary school
may have only one biology teacher, one algebra
teacher, one English 9 teacher, and one world history teacher-singletons! These schools hear the PLC
message, agree with it, and then stumble upon the
inevitable singleton questions: With whom do our
singleton teachers collaborate, and what do they
collaborate about? How do you build common
assessments when you're the only one who teaches
your subject or grade level? Can this really work for
us? Yes, it can and does.
If you want to
build a culture
it needs to be
Read this and other
great articles at
In a school's haste to begin the PLC process, singletons are often left out or
assigned to a team as an afterthought. Understandably,
guiding coalitions often
make the mistake of focusing only on subjects that are
part of high-stakes testing.
Inadvertently, they marginalize singleton teachers and their importance to
the school community by
not being thoughtful about the roles singletons
can play in this new collaborative culture. When
this happens, singleton teachers can become resistant to the process. They can feel it is a waste of
their time-largely, because it is. Without direction or
a clear personal purpose for meeting, team meetings
for singletons wind up having no effect on their work
or their students. Even worse, efforts to create a new
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