Recently, I have been doing a lot of work that’s framed around the idea of “capacity-building.” A lot of us have a general idea of what the term “capacity” means, though I think it merits a little clarity. The common definition is the static amount a container holds, for instance a heart’s capacity for blood. In my work, I embrace a modified definition, one that includes growth and expansiveness, for example a heart’s capacity for love.

I fondly recall the image of the Grinch’s growing heart, as a result of his newfound ability to love more, to bring this idea to life.

In education, capacity-building takes two forms: building Collective capacity (through the cultivation and nurturing of the Professional Learning Community philosophy throughout the building) and building Individual capacity (through providing differentiated feedback and coaching support for each individual teacher).

In order to truly grow as learning organizations, schools must tend to both. Having a robust PLC certainly puts a school on the right path, oriented towards learning and growth, and it’s an essential first step. Necessarily, we must simultaneously address individual capacity, since teachers “break” from their collaborative teams’ “huddle” and return to their classrooms to run their instructional plays individually.

What are you doing to build capacity in your school?

Pete Hall is an educational consultant, former award-winning principal, speaker, and author of four books (including Lead On! Motivational lessons for school leaders (Eye on Education, 2011) and Teach, Reflect, Learn: Building your capacity for success in the classroom (ASCD, 2015). He shares his perspectives in 212-word entries every month or so. He can be reached for speaking engagements, professional development, or other queries at