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About 37 Tuesdays

Thirty-seven Tuesdays draws its name from the number of Tuesdays in a school year. I came upon the name from a local school district that, in an effort to build professional learning communities, designated every Tuesday as an "early release" day for students. This gives the staff an opportunity to meet in order to plan, discuss, and collaborate.

I live about an hour away from The Center for Leadership in Education. On the drive home, my mind began to wander back to my days as a building principal and what I would have done with the ability to meet with my staff for a generous period of time, every week, for an entire school year.

The resulting thoughts are ways that I would use Thirty-seven Tuesdays to put into place a sustainable, accountable, collaborative program in my school.

I make no effort to distinguish fact from opinion. That is the beauty of weblogs. I simply post ideas and resources that are of interest to me in the hopes of sparking dialog, gaining more insight into my own thoughts and the thoughts of others, and hopefully encouraging those who are charged with the task of fostering professional learning communities to try some of the ideas.

Without question, schools functioning as professional learning communities are the silver bullet of school reform. We are in the tall grass without them. Few will argue with the benefits that come from a professional learning community. If you read this blog regularly, you will come to know that recognizing the benefits of professional learning communities and reaping any academic benefit from them are not one and the same.

    This site builds upon the following themes:
  • Professional learning communities are not a goal, but a strategy. The goal remains improved academic achievement. When we set a goal of creating professional learning communities, it is possible to lose sight of the real goal. This blog, then, sets out to make sure that schools "keep the main thing the main thing."

  • Less is more. Many scholars, authors, and consultants have created an industry out of professional learning communities. To be sure, there are many studies that demonstrate the value and academic impact of PLCs. I believe that the value of professional learning communities lies in the practice, not the structure.

  • Professional learning communities are all about leadership. While many principals are eager to take an active role in developing meeting agendas, facilitating the actual meetings, and guiding the conversation, that is not hte kind of leadership I am talking about. I have a working theory, it is that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of time spent with the principal talking to the larger staff and the gains in student achievement sought by the school.

My hope is to blend a large helping of rationale with a healthy does of practical resources. While it is important for school leaders to consider practical resources to ensure optimal use of available time, it is even more important to ensure that the school addresses achievement issues in a meaningful way.

While it is not my goal to tell anyone how they ought to construct professional Learning communities in their building, I do hope that I can build a logical case for using these strategies, activities, and agendas in your school's quest for improvement.

–Jeff Jaroscak