In the movie Rocky, Sylvester Stallone’s character says of his fiancé Adrian: “I got gaps, she’s got gaps, together we don’t got gaps.” This scene from Rocky reminds me of the ongoing work of teachers in a Professional Learning Community.
Closing Gaps With Our Co-Workers:
Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”
When educators meet as a team, they share:
1. Content knowledge
2. Student misunderstandings
3. Instructional Strategies
4. Frustrating experiences with the written curriculum
5. Success stories
6. Suggestions for teaching and learning
7. New ideas and lessons learned from teaching and experimenting with new strategies
8. Methods for technology integration
9. Strategies for differentiating instruction and assessment
10. Student data
Roland Barth (2006), founder of the Harvard Principals’ Center and the International Network of Principals’ Centers, wrote “Sadly, when one educator persists in repeating the failures of the past while another next door has great success, everyone loses” (pp. 9-10). This reminds me of the quote from Rocky. In a Professional Learning Community ‘we all got gaps, together we don’t got gaps.’
Closing Gaps With Our Students:
Every student enters kindergarten with learning gaps. If learning gaps did not exist, we could send children straight into the workforce. Teachers in our school district meet as a Professional Learning Community to study Gap data, focus on student misconceptions, identify common barriers to student achievement, reflect on current instructional practices and share strategies for supporting student achievement.
Educators Can Use These Questions to Help Close Gaps:
1. Do I know what misconceptions or naïve assumptions my students possess?
2. How do I know what they understand?
3. What evidence will I accept for this understanding?
4. How will I use their understanding to plan future instruction? (Fisher & Frey, 2007, p. 14)
Using the four questions above, teachers can share important information about student understanding within a building and across the school district. Once again, I am reminded of the quote from Rocky. ‘My students got gaps. Your students got gaps. Together we don’t got gaps.’ This is the ultimate goal of a Professional Learning Community.
Barth, R. Improving relationships within the schoolhouse. (2006). Educational Leadership, 63, 8-13.
DuFour, R., DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (2008). Revisiting professional learning communities at work: New insights for improving schools. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.
Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2007). Checking for understanding: Formative assessment techniques for your classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Wooden, J. (2010). The official site of Coach John Wooden. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from http://www.coachwooden.com/ .