Professional Learning Community (PLC)
Transportation on PLC
Buses run exactly 90 minutes earlier every PLC Friday afternoon. See the schedule on the Start and Dismiss Times page.
From the Experts
Teams in professional learning communities (PLCs) relentlessly question the status quo, seek new methods of teaching and learning, test the methods, and then reflect on the results together.
Rick DuFour, EdD. An educational advocate noted for developing strategies to create collaborative teaching environments K-12.
When students know what they are learning and the lesson flows well, students learn more. Teacher clarity is likely to ensure that the impact on students is significantly greater than average.John Hattie. A researcher of evidence based quantitative methodologies on the influences of student achievement.When schools and districts shift their coaching efforts from individuals to teams, they amplify the positive effects on teaching and learning.Amplify Your Impact, Coaching Collaborative Teams in PLCs at Work.A high level of teacher collaboration significantly improves student achievement. PLCs that examine student work and analyze data more frequently have higher levels of teacher morale.Lindsey Devers Basileo. Senior Research Analyst at Learning Sciences International.
Professional Learning Communities
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) provide a systematic means of improving instruction and school culture. The professional learning community (PLC) model gives our schools a framework to build teacher capacity to work as members of high-performing, collaborative teams that focus on improving student learning. The framework requires our schools to have a solid, shared mission, vision, values, and goals; collaborative teams that work interdependently to achieve common goals; and a focus on results as evidenced by a commitment to continuous improvement.
During the 2019-2020 school year, teams of teachers, curriculum/professional development teacher leaders, instructional coaches, and principals will meet most Fridays to answer the four driving PLC questions:
What do we want students to know?
How will we know that they have learned it?
What do we do if they didn’t learn it?
What do we do if they already know it?
Some teams may span buildings as art, music, PE, elective teachers, and other groups to be able to have these important conversations. In other buildings, the work will continue at grade level or in content areas. Support staff such as special education and gifted education teachers, academic interventionists and teacher librarians will be part of teams within buildings to offer input in decisions about what students need to move forward.
The district has embraced this process and will continue to actively support staff in this important work. Our students deserve our best. PLCs provide the framework for all staff to work collaboratively for the success of ALL.
What are Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)?
Consistent time for teachers to meet together in teams to analyze data, solve student learning challenges and improve instruction:
- There is clarity regarding what students are expected to learn and be able to do.
- Each student’s learning is monitored on an ongoing and timely basis.
- When students struggle, extra time and support are provided.
- When students have already mastered the intended learning outcomes, extended learning opportunities are provided.
Time to collaborate in a professional learning community provides a learning environment where teachers have frequent, consistent time to discuss what’s most important for students. This collaborative time allows them to better address:
- Improving academic growth and achievement;
- Closing achievement gaps;
- Serving a more diverse population as the community’s demographics change;
- Ensuring students graduate with 21st-century skills.
This additional time is also critical as schools prepare students to meet the increased rigor of the Arizona State Standards. Students’ social/emotional well-being is also addressed through teachers’ collaborative work.
Over the last decade, education has changed, making it necessary to change our approach to prepare our students for successful futures. Now is the time to address these changes:
- Arizona Academic Standards require a higher level of learning and therefore more sophisticated and complex curriculum and instruction.
- Our community’s demographics are more diverse. Our families speak 93 different languages, and come to us with varying levels of school readiness. Poverty is increasing at some of our schools, and four schools serve communities where more than 70 percent of their students living in poverty.
It is more important than ever before to provide teachers with the tools, skills, and information they need to meet the needs of individual students. Our new district strategic plan, Blueprint to #Extraordinary, states “The overarching vision is to ensure 100% of DVUSD students are prepared to enter college or a career path after high school graduation.” 100 percent. This is a promise we make to our students every day when they walk in the door. To get there, students must achieve mastery in the most important standards.
Research Shows that Teacher Collaboration Time Makes a Difference
DVUSD first implemented Professional Learning Communities six years ago, and teachers say time to work together through collaboration structures has a significant impact on their ability to help students learn. Research says that there has never been greater consensus about what works; the one thing the highest performing school systems in the world have in common is an understanding that a system can be only as good as the people within it. Professional Learning Communities increase student learning and close achievement gaps because they produce better teaching strategies, by more teachers, more often.
Research shows that the highest performing countries in the world provide a great deal more time for teachers to collaborate with one another. Teachers in the highest performing countries also spend more of their total working time engaged in collaborative activities:
- While U.S. teachers generally have 3 to 5 hours a week for lesson planning, teachers in most high achieving countries spend 15 to 25 hours per week working with colleagues, preparing and analyzing lessons, developing and evaluating assessments, observing other classrooms and meeting with students and parents.
- Instructional delivery consumes about 80 percent of U.S. teachers' total working time compared to about 60 percent for teachers in high performing nations, leaving teachers abroad much more time to plan and learn together, developing high-quality curriculum and instruction.
Board and Community Support
The DVUSD education community and School Board’s support for the change was the culmination of nearly a year of research, stakeholder feedback and surveys, and planning. DVUSD Superintendent Curtis Finch and team engaged every school staff in conversations about how to improve teacher collaboration through Professional Learning Communities. Staff, administrators, and parents were invited to take surveys about the idea of providing consistent time for teachers to collaborate around student learning, behavior and achievement.
In addition to before- and after-school child care, our Community Education Program is working on a plan to offer ninety minute PLC Early Release care for families at a reduced rate.
How High-Achieving Countries Develop Great Teachers
(Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education)
The Ever Increasing Burden on American's Public Schools (Jamie Robert Vollmer)
Professional Learning Communities: The Key to Improved Teaching and Learning (Dr. Rick DuFour)The School District as a Professional Learning Community (K-12 Blueprint)Research
A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning (Vicki Vescio , Dorene Ross, Alyson Adams)