By Ann Monday
City of Fairfax Schools
The comic character Pogo wisely said, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” In fact, this universal truth is the basis for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).
In the last decade, schools across the country have embraced this philosophy and transformed teaching from a profession where teachers worked in isolation, focusing only on their own students, to one that stresses collaboration and shared responsibility for all students.
In my prior position as the Fairfax County Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for instructional services, I had the opportunity to see this concept grow from an interesting idea to a critical factor in positive school cultures and continuous improvement. In recent years, it has become apparent that teacher leadership, and collaboration that is focused on student learning, are fundamental to school success.
A Leader’s Companion
In 2007, educational leaders Robert DuFour and Robert Eaker published a companion book to their groundbreaking book for teachers, Professional Learning Communities at Work. This one, A Leader’s Companion, was co-written by Rebecca DuFour, and features 125 inspirational quotes about the power and importance of PLCs.
This is one of my favorites:
“The true mission of a school is revealed by what people do, not by what they say. Therefore, educators committed to bringing their mission statements to life in their school are relentless in examining every practice, procedure and decision and in asking, ‘Is this consistent with our mission of high levels of learning for all students?’”
As you think about what makes a good school, a good teacher, a good principal, you might consider understanding the process that educators take to ensure they are doing their jobs to the best of their ability. Eaker, DuFour and DuFour are certainly doing their part to lead us in the right direction.
In last month’s issue of “Be Inkandescent magazine,” I offered information on the Fairfax County School budget. Here is an update:
On February 4, the County Board passed a $2.3 billion FY2011 budget that requires an increase of transfer of $81.9 million from the County Board of Supervisors. It now needs to be funded by the supervisors, and you are invited to attend those meetings (see information at right under “Dates to Remember”).
Note, too, that in the January issue of Close-Up Online, we wrote about the cuts that would need to be made if this funding is not provided. I urge you to advocate so that these cuts are not necessary.
The reason is simple. The ultimate result of budget cuts is that teachers will be expected to do more without the resources they need. One of the most important resources is time – time to work with colleagues in PLCs, time to support individual students, time to attend quality training programs.
With increases in class sizes, fewer support staff and meager funding for teacher training, it will be difficult to maintain the progress we have made.
Educational leader and City of Fairfax resident Ann Monday became superintendent of Fairfax City schools on July 1, 2007. Previously, she was assistant superintendent of instructional services for Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), a district she had worked in since 1973, when she launched her career as a teacher at Kilmer Intermediate School in Vienna.