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Professional Learning Communities

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Teachers share experiences with professional learning communities (PLCs) in their schools.
Professional Learning Community (PLC)
Posted by:rebeccav #143326

A PLC is a professional learning community. There are a lot of misconceptions as to what a PLC really is. It is NOT a program. It is NOT a team meeting (in the old sense of the word). It is a process in which teachers use data (any form of agreed upon assessment...a test, a product, a writing sample, anything the kids do) to see how kids are doing, what teachers are doing to meet the needs of the kids. It is collaboration, true collaboration, if it is done correctly. It is a very powerful process that enhances a teachers repetoire and a students learning.

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Teaching at a PLC school
Posted by:johabella #135325

I currently teach 5th grade at a public school that has embodied the PLC philosophy. It's definitely been a lot more work, but has given me great rewards.

This PLC journey is a shift in thinking. There is a shift from a focus on teaching, to a focus on learning. Instead of emphasizing what was taught, we fixate on what students have learned. Coverage of content now takes a backseat to students demonstrating proficiency on essential standards. Teachers work collaboratively and hold each other accountable for the results.

As part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) every educator strives to answer the following questions:

1. What is it we expect students to learn?

2. How will we know when they have learned it?

3. How will we respond when they don't learn?

4....

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PLC's
Posted by:imalith #133160

We also started PLC's this year...if you can call it that. Our principal's plan is to take it slow to get all staff on board. We currently meet in small PLC groups. Our small groups are working on common assessments and we discuss our lessons that lead up to our final common assessment.

Unfortunately, we do not have a "pyramid of intervention". We do not have total staff buy in. And we do not have a method of collaborating across PLC's or even publish our minutes of our meetings to know what other PLC's have accomplished.

In my PLC group and in almost each PLC group, there is at least one person that refuses to collaborate. These people happily take the work of others, but do not contribute except their negative attitudes at meeting. Our principal just tells us that it is "up to...

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Marzano
Posted by:lenarmc #131388

We are in our second year of Marzano which is the person that came up with PLC's. He has a book out about it.

PLC's are actually for teachers and not students. Professional Learning Community is just a fancy name for the planning that you do as a team/grade level. The purpose of the PLC is to talk about what went on in our classrooms for the week, what worked/didn't work, give ideas on new lessons, get help from fellow team members for teaching a certain skill if your students had a difficult time learning an objective, etc. We also plan our lessons for the next week. Sounds like a grade level planning meeting doesn't it?

We also have what is called Classroom Walk-throughs (CWT) where some administrator comes in and observes your class for 2-4 minutes. In that amount of...

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Nothing good to report
Posted by:no plc #135333

A lot of people have asked about PLC's and I always have the same answer: I think the idea is great on paper, but with little training they just don't work. I hate the days my team meet for a PLC because nothing gets accomplished. We all set a time line to teach the same thing at the same time, which is great since every child in each class learns at the same pace and all. We give common assessments that prove our EC and ESL kids are not passing, but do nothing with the data. Our grade leader is totally a cheerleader for the PLC, but seems to be the only one who has bought into it. The general talk among the teachers is that it has created more work and negative attitudes toward one another. I can see myself leaving this profession if I am going to be...

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3rd Year PLC
Posted by:A&W #118694

This is our 3rd year implementing PLC's. It has been growing and learning experience. We meet once a week during block time for about 1 hour. The PDT (Professional Development Teacher) is wonderful. We are fortunate because she is so knowledgeable and organized, it makes our time very productive. We focus on reading and language arts. This is a school wide initiative, therefore all elementary schools are on the same page. We have district wide formative assessments. Our district is implementing a "Balance Literacy" approach that is modified. We are using a guided reading schedule, shared, ect, to teach language arts and reading.

It gives our grade level time to discuss and catch up with each other as to how our classrooms are functioning or not. It gives us direction as to what area we should be going into...

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building a team
Posted by:Doni #75899

Does your school have any school-wide intiative for building learning communities? Unfortunately in a situation where you have a grade level that everyone does their own thing, it often takes a school-wide initiative to change things. Does your administration like for all teachers on a grade level to be on the same page? If the administration has no problem with lack of cohesion on a grade level, it will be hard for you to make the change. The first thing you guys need to do is to sit down together and honestly assess how you work together as a team. Some of the teachers on your grade level might not even realize that there is a problem, so your first step has got to be everyone getting together to assess problems.

After you all have brainstormed problems on your grade level (honestly - everyone has to...

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PLC school (sorry long, but reflective!)
Posted by:Combow #135635

Two years ago our principal went out of state and heard the Dufours (PLC gurus) talk and came back talking "professional learning communities." One of our staff members was working on his doctorate and chose PLC as his thesis. He shared a brief 30 minute overview of the philosophy, 5-6 staff members went to a week long training and came back but really didn't share much with us. Then about 6 of us went to a week long training with the Dufours during the summer. I was one of those individuals. I could see how in theory it is what all of us need to do. September rolled around and then our principal wanted us to practice being a "true" plc. We met about 30 minutes per week but very informally. We documented "discussions" but never really studied any data other then our state scores. The informality frustrated me because...

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Posted by:Teach NJ #121996

My district started PLC's this year and they make us use our prep period once a week, as all teachers on a given grade level have prep. at the same time daily. Needless to say teachers pretty much hate this. We were originally told that we would use this period each week to share ideas and do common planning, learn new strategies, review data etc. What this time has actually turned into is our facilitators (sort of head teachers for the building who run back to the principal about everything) loading us with more paperwork to record data on everything you could possibly imagine. There is no real interaction between the teachers, it's more of a lecture on their part of what we need to do. We pretty much sit there and think of all the other things that we could be getting done during the 45 minutes we are...

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Professional Learning Community
Posted by:Nataliz #125496

I read Marzano's book as part of a school book study last year. It is filled with research. It is very "numbers" oriented. There are lots of statistics to back up what he says. Others at our school had a difficult time because of the numbers. I would assume that as a math teacher, this probably wouldn't be an issue for you. It is filled with strategies to help students make meaning of what they are learning. There is also an interesting chapter regarding the research on homework.

I also really liked Eric Jensen's Teaching with the Brain in Mind. I had tons of ah-ha moments while reading, both for my classroom and my own children. It also contains tons of research to back it up, but seems to be a bit more accessible than Marzano's book. I read it this summer. It's more on how to prime the...

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PLC's
Posted by:NCP #133161

A couple of years ago at my old school my principal tried this. It was an optional activity for staff, and considering the first meeting was in the summer, a lot of people opted to participate. Well, once school started, the principal didn't really know how to continue with things. He was "busy" and didn't spend the time preparing for meetings. A couple of times he hadn't even done the reading. The meetings started becoming far in between. It was like something that he had heard about, but didn't really spend time learning how to implement. Things really fell apart and never really benefited anyone.

If they are done right, I can see a great benefit to a PLC. But I think unless the leader of the group has training, goals, a vision, and they are willing to invest the time, PLC's will not benefit anyone and leave other...

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Not a choice
Posted by:volstate #141657

In my district, each grade level is required to meet once a week to work collaboratively. Now this works at each school and team is slightly differents. We use this time to discuss lesssons for the next week, problems we may be having ,venting ( if needed), details that we as a team need to work out for upcoming events. Just routine update are sent via email. Also, our school has a calendar feature on the email program. Even our faculty meetings are not "business" items. They are used to teach strategies, provide time to work on portfolios, PLC's, etc.

What I appreciate in a leader is someone who can balance listening with keeping the tasks at hand moving along. The person must be confident in making the final judgement when the team is struggling. The person does need to be timely in...

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