A few weeks ago I experienced one of those magical moments that can
occasionally occur in your professional life. Moments similar to the ones I
would occasionally have as a teacher. You know the lesson rocks and all
of the planning and effort to impact learning seems so worth it?!
This was one of those moments.
The 2017 Solution Tree PLC Summit is now over, but the energy and the impact
from the 2200+ educators in attendance will have a lasting residue on me, for at
least the rest of this season – 2016-2107 – and hopefully into the 2017-2018
school season as well.
I had the good fortune and the opportunity to speak at the PLC Summit for
Solution Tree and to meet so many remarkable educators. Professionals
in the trenches just like you and me, trying to make an impact and a difference
in the scope of our daily professional work.
It was at the end of Day 2, and like any one of us at the end of a long day of
teaching, I was pretty exhausted. The day had started for me with my morning
address on the hearprint of your professional and PLC life and ended 8 hours
later after a string of non-stop lessons and meetings. Sounds like one of your
typical teaching days, I bet!
Then the magical moment occurred!
During my morning address the educators in the room had a chance to complete
a postcard, and identify a colleague in need of a bit of a cultural lift: There was
this recognition that our work as educators is just so very difficult, and yet, with
the proper balance and with the influence and impact of our colleagues, we can
once again reconnect to the purpose of our work and the energy needed to achieve
I had a chance at the end of the day to read the postcards submitted by many of the
attendees at the Summit. It was an emotional moment, as in some sense they
reflected the commitment my colleague and mentor Rick DuFour would have loved
to read and hear about.
“What is the PLC hearprint we are leaving on our students and our colleagues”
is a tough question to ask. Yet, it is exactly the question professionals should ask.
Each participant was asked to write down one or two commitments to action that
would make a difference in supporting the development of the PLC work life in
the person they identified. To say the least, the stories they told in just a few brief
sentences were heartwarming, uplifting and courageous.
I ended my message that morning with a challenge to engage in
The Relentless Heart of the PLC Life.
I did so by using a reading, combined with musical version of
Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole. Many attendees
approached me and asked me to please post the words I read at the end of the
session. So, here they are. I hope they can be of use to you too, as you finish this
current school year and season of your professional life.
The Relentless HEART of the PLC Life!
It takes great courage, a certain fearlessness, to pursue and to choose the heart print
of the PLC life.
To become an inspirational teacher and leader— to dig deep down and find the
proper passion and compassion, energy and engagement, joy and gratefulness –
Our desire to influence others, to collaborate, to teach and to share with others, to be
more professionally transparent - every day – takes courage.
In the words of Helen Keller, Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all!
And, the PLC life most assuredly calls us to become part of a great adventure!
Our Heartprint, however, is not just revealed in those moments of great heroism.
I have often thought our Heartprint exists within the common everyday, mundane,
and often-unseen moments of our professional lives.
That something extra you did for a child last week, that no one will ever really know.
The lifting up of a colleague, when illness or personal difficulty set in.
We each have a great teaching and learning story to tell…
And it’s very personal – Because our emotions and our fears about what will and
will not work are different.
For some, to have the heart to work in a collaborative team and take collective
responsibility for evidence of student learning takes great courage.
For others, not as much…
For others, to ensure that no educator is left alone and allowed to drift away from
a state of U DE MO NIA - or Thriving - takes courage – especially to do so
with a never ending patience and grace.
To take initiative beyond your current comfort zone when you leave this Summit,
and participate in a PLC culture and a professional life that provides hope and joy
and notices others – takes courage.
To relentlessly slow down the pace of your life and find the Quadrant II time
described today to keep your heart healthy, so you can be at your high energy
best in this season – and the next - will most likely take courage too.
Your heartprint as part of the PLC life will reveal your willingness to become
intimate with your work – which means you connect your own sense of success
and personal well-being to the success and well-being of your students
We are in this room, at this moment, understanding that… Courage and heart will
be the X-factors in sustaining the change to move toward such a collaborative culture
one day, one event, one team at a time.
Courage is the virtue that is needed if we are going to change the status quo that
often engulfs us…at our schools. And avoid the entropy that can choke us.
The PLC culture is about taking ourselves and our students to those heartrpint
places they have never been before…
And we cannot go to those “no limits – how good can we be - Gonna take you higher”
Tim Brown type of places - without courage and the HEART that will be required
Courage gives us the energy to move forward!
Courage gives us the confidence to move forward!
Courage - often discovered in those quiet Quadrant II low energy moments…
enables to leave a legacy that declares:
I was here and I made a difference!
In 2013, USC Professor Dallas Willard stated:
A person is essentially a collection of conscious experiences.
Far more than just bodies or just appetites, we are our experiences.
That is why we treasure the good ones.
As a faculty for this Summit: That is our hope for each of you here today.
That your life will be filled with a collection of experiences that will forever
be part of the good ones…
And, that your experiences within the PLC life will shape you into the hope of being
better for others tomorrow.
In the words of our mentor and colleague Dr. Richard DuFour:
“Will you act with a sense of urgency, as if the very lives of your students
depend on your action? Because in a very literal sense, more so than at any other
time in American history, they do.”
Thank you for the courage to find your heart in this season of your
professional life… As you join up and become part of…
the PLC Movement!
Timothy D. Kanold Read February 23rd, 2017 at the 2017 PLC Summit