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The authors’ earlier books and videos focus primarily on providing educators with the time, support, and strategies to enhance their professional practice. This book focuses primarily on providing time, support, and strategies to assist students. Whatever It Takes: How PLCs Respond When Kids Don’t Learn examines the question, “What happens when, despite our best efforts in the classroom, a student does not learn?”
In traditional schools, the response to this question has been left to the discretion of individual classroom teachers who are free to respond in very different ways. A Professional Learning Community will not leave this critical question to each teacher to resolve. A PLC will, instead, create a school-wide system of interventions that provides all students with additional time and support when they experience difficulty in their learning.
The authors describe in detail the systems of intervention, including Adlai E. Stevenson High School’s “Pyramid of Interventions,” created by four different schools: a high school, a middle school, and two elementary schools. In addition to these systems, the authors discuss the logistical barriers these schools faced and their strategies for overcoming those barriers
Chapter 1 examines the current mandate that all students learn at high levels and places that mandate in a historical context by examining the assumptions that have guided public education. The chapter extends the popular rallying cry that “all children can learn” by re-examining the three critical questions with which all PLCs grapple in order to give that phrase relevance.
Chapter 2 describes how schools have traditionally responded when students do not learn and provides a case study to examine that response. The chapter also presents some caveats readers must keep in mind as they consider creating a system of interventions for students in their own schools.
Chapter 3 describes in detail the system of interventions created by Adlai Stevenson High School in suburban Chicago, one of three schools in the nation to receive the United States Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Award on four occasions.
This system, the Pyramid of Interventions, represents a conscious attempt by the Stevenson staff to give students additional time and support when they experience difficulty in their learning.
Chapter 4 discusses some of the logistical barriers Stevenson faced in building the Pyramid and strategies for overcoming those barriers. It acknowledges that other schools in other settings will face their own unique barriers but contends that if staff members clarify their priority and focus on the right questions, they too can overcome the obstacles posed by their local context.
Chapter 5 examines the unique aspects of the middle school and explains how one of America’s most celebrated middle schools has raised student performance by focusing on student achievement, building a collaborative culture, and creating systems to provide students with additional time and support.
Chapters 6 and 7 describe how a system of interventions works for students in two very different elementary schools—one in a rural setting in south-central Virginia and another in an ethnically diverse Title One school in southern California.
Chapter 8 identifies the commonalities between the four very different schools explored in the earlier chapters. It discusses how all of the characteristics of a PLC came to thrive in each school and describes some of the common approaches to leadership that characterized the principals of these four schools.
Chapter 9 examines some of the philosophical concerns that have been raised regarding the proposal to provide students with additional time and support for learning when students fail to make the effort necessary to be successful. The chapter then attempts to address each of these concerns.
Chapter 10 identifies some of the cultural shifts a school must make on the journey to becoming a Professional Learning Community. It contends that a PLC creates a “stretch culture” that leads both students and staff to embrace high expectations and to develop a sense of self-efficacy. It suggests strategies to promote such a culture.
The appendix provides artifacts from the four schools described in this book that practitioners may find helpful—mission and vision statements, job descriptions, sample correspondence, program descriptions, and graphics to illustrate intervention plans. The appendix also contains a graphic representation of Adlai Stevenson’s Pyramid of Interventions.
|About the Authors||ix|
|Foreword: The Power of Collective Intelligence||xiii|
|Introduction: An Unprecedented Challenge||1|
|Chapter 1||From "Learning for the Few" to "All Kids Can Learn" to "All Kids Will learn--Or Else!"||13|
|Chapter 2||How Do We Respond When Kids Don't Learn?||29|
|Chapter 3||A High School's Collective Response When Kids Don't Learn: Adlai Stevenson High School||43|
|Chapter 4||Overcoming Logistical Barriers at Adlai Stevenson||67|
|Chapter 5||Providing Time and Support for Kids in Middle School: Freeport Intermediate School||79|
|Chapter 6||A School-Wide System of Time and Support for Elementary Students: Boones Mill Elementary School||93|
|Chapter 7||A School-Wide System of Time and Support for Elementary Students: Los Penasquitos Elementary School||117|
|Chapter 8||Common Threads||133|
|Chapter 9||The Philosophical Challenges of Systematic Interventions for Students||149|
|Chapter 10||Creating a Stretch Culture: A Process, Not a Program||171|
|Appendix||Table of Contents and Document Descriptions||193|
Posted July 22, 2011
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