Professional Learning Community (PLC)
Child Care on PLC
Early Release Afternoons Information will become available in January on our DVUSD website: Child Care Options for PLC Early Release Wednesday. Once the website becomes live, we will update the website regularly.
Transportation on PLC
Buses run exactly 90 minutes earlier every PLC Wednesday afternoon. See the schedule on the Start and Dismiss Times page.
From the Experts
"The reason Professional Learning Communities increase student learning is that they produce more good teaching by more teachers more of the time."
Jonathon Saphier - Founder and president of Research for Better Teaching
"There’s never been greater consensus about what it’s going to require of educators in order to improve student learning in all of their schools...the one thing the highest performing school systems in the world have in common is an understanding that a system can only be as good as the people within it.”
Rick DuFour, EdD - Former public school educator, prolific author and sought-after consultant. Recognized as one of the leading authorities on helping school practitioners implement the Professional Learning Communities at Work™ process in their schools and districts.
"Their record of achievement is remarkable. But, no matter how hard they (public school employees) work, they cannot produce the results our nation needs...They cannot teach all children to high levels because they are working in a system designed to do something else: select and sort children for an industrial society that no longer exists."
Jamie Vollmer - Award-winning champion of public education and the author of Schools Cannot Do It Alone
Professional Learning Communities
Last spring, the DVUSD School Board approved the district’s recommended changes to the 2019-2020 school calendar providing a ninety (90) minute early release on most Wednesdays* for teachers to work together. These early release days will replace our current monthly half-day early release. Early release days will not occur during weeks when we have a holiday, parent/teacher conference, or testing.
*Wednesdays were the proposed and Governing Board-approved day to hold early dismissal next year. We are re-surveying stakeholder groups to confirm the best day of the week. We will contact parents via email and update the website in January, 2019 with any changes.
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 57 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.
The Importance of PLCs
PLC - 4 Essential Questions
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)
A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning (Vicki Vescio , Dorene Ross, Alyson Adams)