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Stop Messing Around. Take the PLC Highway to School Improvement.

Infinite Games | Metacognition | Relative Academic Rigor

By Andre J. Wicks, President and Editor in Chief at Everyday Principal.

Trying to find room for improvement

In 28 years as a k12 educator, I have experienced attempts to implement PLC's as a classroom teacher, an assistant principal, and most recently as a middle school principal. Each of those experiences was different and has provided valuable insights as to what it really takes to implement effective professional learning communities. Not PLC's that are PLC Light, but PLC's that actually focus on learning, focus on results, and focus on collaboration. Let's face it, most teachers and administrators have seen more PLC's not work than PLC's that do work.


Why is that?


I firmly believe that any profession that serves humans can benefit from an understanding of human psychology. The more we understand about how people think and behave the more effective we can be in those professions. Now, only because I am curious, raise your virtual hand (and vote below) if human psychology is something you spend much time considering when making decisions such as implementing systems like PLC's?

Do you intentionally leveraged human psychology to make major decisions or to troubleshoot solutions?

  • Yes, usually.

  • No, not often.


Don't feel bad, I didn't at first, either.


That is a different story now. Not only do we leverage the lens of human psychology in major decision and solution making, we help others do the same with dizzying success. Which is what we'd like to do in this post via a short story highlighting prerequisites for implementing PLC's. Note, there are countless resources on the steps, strategies, and processes for implementing PLC's. And, these all work...if.


They all work if stakeholders have been prepped with the psychological needs that, if absent or misunderstood, can extinguish all efforts to implement one of the greatest frameworks ever assembled to guarantee student learning. Below is a story, a tapestry, revealing how one school opened its mind to possibility. Take your time. Click the links. Be informed, be inspired, then go influence.

 

In the rhythmic heartbeat of education, the melody of infinite games plays a transformative tune. Today, I invite you on a journey through the corridors of Peperzak Middle School, where the concepts of infinite games, metacognition, and the relative nature of academic rigor converge to create a harmonious symphony within professional learning communities.


Chapter 1: The Prelude of Infinite Games


In the heart of Peperzak, Principal Rodriguez found inspiration in the notion of infinite games—a concept introduced by James P. Carse, emphasizing the joy of play and the continuous nature of the educational journey. The challenge lay in translating this philosophy into a tangible, transformative force within professional learning communities.


As Principal Rodriguez pondered the potential impact of infinite games, a vision began to take shape—an educational landscape where the traditional confines of victory and defeat faded, replaced by a harmonious dance of perpetual growth.


Chapter 2: The Teacher's Awakening to Infinite Games


Enter Mr. Collins, a passionate mathematics teacher eager to transcend the boundaries of conventional teaching. The concept of infinite games resonated with him, sparking a realization that the journey of education is not about reaching a finite destination but about savoring the ongoing process of discovery and learning.


During a professional learning community meeting, Mr. Collins shared his newfound perspective. He spoke of creating an environment where teachers and students alike could embrace the infinite game of education. The PLC, he believed, could become a collaborative space where the joy of learning surpassed the rigid confines of standardized tests and predetermined outcomes.


Chapter 3: The Emergence of Metacognition


As the notion of infinite games took root within the professional learning community, another powerful concept emerged—metacognition. Ms. Turner, an English teacher, became a torchbearer for metacognition, recognizing its potential to empower both teachers and students in their educational journey.


Ms. Turner started incorporating metacognitive practices into her lessons, encouraging students to reflect on their thinking processes. The PLC meetings transformed into spaces where educators engaged in metacognitive dialogues, sharing insights into their teaching practices and strategies for fostering self-awareness among students.


Chapter 4: Student Empowerment Through Metacognition


The ripple effect of metacognition extended beyond the confines of the professional learning community and into the classrooms. Students, inspired by the metacognitive journey of their teachers, began to see themselves as active participants in their own learning process. The students were sharpening the skill of learning how to learn.


In a science class, students engaged in metacognitive discussions about their approach to problem-solving. They articulated their thinking processes, identified challenges, and collaboratively devised strategies for improvement. The PLC became a bridge, connecting the metacognitive practices of teachers with the empowering journey of self-awareness for students.


Chapter 5: The Relative Nature of Academic Rigor


Principal Rodriguez, recognizing the transformative power of infinite games and metacognition, introduced another crucial element to the narrative—the understanding of the relative nature of academic rigor. Academic rigor, she believed, should not be a one-size-fits-all concept but a dynamic force that adapts to the unique needs and strengths of each student.


In a PLC meeting, educators explored the concept of relative academic rigor. They discussed how tailoring instructional approaches to individual learning styles and pacing could enhance student engagement and foster a deeper understanding of the material. The traditional paradigm of rigorous education began to shift, making room for flexibility and differentiation.


Chapter 6: The Synchronized Symphony of Learning


As the elements of infinite games, metacognition, and relative academic rigor intertwined, a synchronized symphony of learning emerged within Peperzak. The PLC meetings became dynamic hubs where teachers and students engaged in a dance of perpetual growth, acknowledging the ever-evolving nature of education.

Copyright 2011 Solution Tree Press. All rights reserved.
When learning is no longer the variable in education, achievement levels soar.

In one PLC session, a science teacher, Mr. Applegate, shared his experiences with adapting academic rigor based on the individual needs of his students. His colleagues, inspired by this approach, began to explore innovative methods of tailoring instruction, recognizing that academic rigor could be a flexible concept that accommodates diverse learning styles.


Chapter 7: The Crescendo of Transformation


The impact of embracing infinite games, metacognition, and the relative nature of academic rigor echoed beyond the school's walls. Principal Rodriguez, now a beacon of transformative leadership, shared the journey of Peperzak at educational conferences and seminars, inspiring educators nationwide.


The school's approach became a model for fostering a culture where the joy of learning and the empowerment of students coexisted with the pursuit of academic excellence. The transformation wasn't just about achieving predefined goals; it was about nurturing a love for learning that would endure throughout a lifetime.


Chapter 8: The Ongoing Melody of Education


As this tale concludes, principals, the narrative of Peperzak Middle School serves as a testament to the transformative potential of infinite games, metacognition, and the relative nature of academic rigor. Let this story inspire you to cultivate harmony and perpetual growth within your own professional learning communities.


May the ongoing melody of education, guided by the principles of infinite games and metacognition, lead your schools into a future where professional learning communities pave a way for learning that is not confined by finite goals but is a joyous, ever-evolving journey.


With heartfelt dedication to the transformative power of education,


Ms. Rodriguez (a.k.a. Mr. Andre Wicks)

Principal, Peperzak Middle School


Are you ready to implement effective PLC's in your school or district? Are you in the process but stuck? The consultants and trainers at Everyday Principal are ready to help. Contact us at support@everydayprincipal.com to find out how we can help you create the conditions necessary to guarantee student learning.

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Chris Shearer
Chris Shearer
Nov 20, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great read Andre! We’re in the process of rebooting our PLC processes.

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