I just finished reading Focus by Mike Schmoker for the second time. If you have not had a chance to read this book you need to find time. I love the fact he preaches simplicity. I truly believe we make things too complicated. That is one reason I really love PLCs - they focus on four questions and that is it. Schmoker believes there are three elements that need to be understood and implemented in every subject area.
1. What we teach. Basically we need to have an understanding of what is essential and teach those standards in depth, with enough time for deep writing and talking. Marzano states that this "guaranteed and viable" curriculum is perhaps the most significant school factor that effects learning.
2. How we teach. Effective lessons feature a concientious effort, throughout the lesson, to ensure that all student are learning before moving on.
3. Authentic Literacy. Purposeful reading, writing, and talking.
Obviously PLC work facilitates implementation of these three elements. Schmoker states, and I concur, that these three element - even if reasonably well-executed, will have more impact than all other initiatives that a school would take on combined.
I learned this fact through coaching. My high school basketball team always performed better when we did less and focused on only a few things. We don't need to be complicated or fancy. We just need to be more FOCUSED!!