I spent the majority of last week at the PLC at Work Institute, hosted by Rick and Becky DuFour.
Now, I already knew or thought I knew what a PLC was and how an effective PLC run school can impact student achievement, but I was wrong.
I wasn't wrong in my understanding that when teachers work together collaboratively they can identify problem areas and share best practices.
I also wasn't wrong in my belief that teachers should come out of their mindset of each classroom being an independent fiefdom.
No, I was wrong on a much deeper level and I was hurting my students without ever realizing it.
I was up until last week one of those teachers who believed that I was teaching my students responsibility when I refused to accept any of their work late.
I could not have been farther from the truth.
In reality, I was telling my students that they didn't have to do the work I assigned because there was always an easy way out, a 0.
I was also dooming some of them to almost instant failure of my class if they got a 0 on a big assignment.
Oh, I told myself that since I used standards based weighting, no one assignment could impact a grade too heavily.
I also told myself that in the real world, if I didn't do MY work on time, I wouldn't have a job.
You see, I had blinded myself to the reality that there are times as a teacher I don't get my own work done on time and my principal doesn't tell me, "James, no worries, you didn't get it done so I'll just put a letter in your file and we will move on.
" You see teachers, while it makes sense to take off points for late work (after all if your kids didn't mow the lawn you'd make them still do it even if it was during the time they wanted to be with friends), it makes NO sense to completely eliminate all chances of getting the work done.
It dooms our kids to failure and teachers them not responsibility, but laziness.
School starts for me in two weeks and you can rest assured that if I took one thing from the PLC institute, I will not teach my students how to be lazy.
I will teach my students that even if they don't particularly like something, they still need to do it.
I will show them by my own example what responsibility looks like by making sure I am timely in my work as well.