Unlocking the full potential of PLCs lies in their strategic use of protocols for problem-solving and building on the existing assets of each other and their students. These protocols serve as the compass that guides educators through the turbulent waters of continuous improvement, ensuring that every decision and action is rooted in data-driven insights, collaborative expertise, and a relentless pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning.

Do your PLCs-Impact Teams use protocols purposefully to guide collaborative inquiry for impact on “whole child” learning? Good news, over 2000 Impact Teams across the nation do and this is the research that inspired their practice.


The Research

Galimore and Ermeling (2010) did a five-year study of Title I schools, serving more than 14,000 students in all. They documented the significant contribution of teacher learning teams that were part of a school improvement model.

  • They found that achievement rose by 41 percent overall, and by 54 percent for Hispanic students, after schools converted routine meetings into teacher learning teams focused on what students were struggling to learn.
  • Demographically similar schools had no comparable achievement gains over the same five years. Schools in both groups were challenged by histories of low achievement, large numbers of English-language learners, and high percentages of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch aid.

Collective Action with Purposeful Protocols

One action that teams practiced to get positive impact was to use published, purposeful protocols that “guide – but do not prescribe’. Effective team protocols focused on:

  1. jointly identifying goals for student learning;
  2. finding or developing assessments of student progress toward those goals;
  3. adopting promising approaches to address the goals; planning and delivering lessons everyone tries;
  4. using classroom performance data to evaluate the commonly planned and delivered lessons; and
  5. reflecting on student learning to determine next steps.

Good news! The Impact Team model has you covered. Impact Teams use purposeful protocols to guide their inquiry with a practical and easy to remember 3-step, protocol framework (Evidence, Analysis, Action). The #ImpactTeams EAA 10 purpose protocols focus on:

  • Goal consensus
  • Student clarity
  • Analysis of evidence of student learning
  • Determining high impact learning strategies anchored in rigorous learning (surface-deep-transfer
  • Understanding impact of strategy implementation
  • Developing standards based summative and formative assessments and learning tools (student facing learning progressions, rubrics, checklists, exemplars)
  • Refining and innovating using asset-based pedagogy
  • Advancing equity
  • Quality implementation

Impact Teams in Action

Observe these two “model teams” from the blue ribbon school, PS 9 in Staten Island NY and the Lyons Township Chemistry Impact Team. Notice how the teams determine evidence-based next steps based on evidence of student learning and the Visible Learning research.

Read more about purposeful protocols in Leading Impact Teams 2.0, Chapter 4. Stay tuned for our next post regarding the power of peer facilitation!

Learn More!