Professional Learning Communities (PLC)The mission of the East Grand Forks Staff Development Program and Processes is to improve student learning through continual professional growth for all staff by advocating opportunities that advance knowledge and improve teaching and learning, that promote collaboration, and that facilitate adaptation to change.
- Staff Development should be standards and results-based.
- Continual improvement is essential and possible and requires data in order to inform planning.
- Change does occur and staff development facilitates adaptation to change.
- Quality education demands innovation and continuous improvement.
- Innovation requires a positive and supportive environment.
- Frequent and extended collaboration promotes personal and professional growth
- Diversity of personalities and effective teaching styles is positive.
- Professional growth requires the development of ethical interpersonal skills.
- Professional growth requires the enhancement of teaching/learning skills.
- Professional growth requires an understanding of local, national and international standards and Best Practices.
- Learning occurs beyond the classroom.
- Maintaining high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do.
- Providing a national voluntary system certifying teachers who meet these standards.
- Advocating related education reforms to integrate National Board Certification in American education and to capitalize on the expertise of National Board Certified Teachers.
The Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle
Prior to beginning the cycle, a team of teachers examines student achievement data from state achievement tests or local benchmark tests aligned to the state standards and selects standards on which to focus.
Phase I: Study
Teachers work in collaborative planning teams (grade-level, vertical, or departmental) to critically examine and discuss the learning expectations from the selected state standards. Teachers working collaboratively develop a common understanding of the following:
- The concepts and skills students need to meet the expectations in the standards
- How the standards for a grade or course are assessed on state and local tests
- How the standards fit within a scope and sequence of the district curriculum
Phase II: Select
Collaborative planning teams research and select instructional strategies and resources for enhancing learning as described in the standards. Working collaboratively, teachers
- identify effective research-based strategies and appropriate resources that will be used to support learning that is aligned to the standards; and
- agree on appropriate assessment techniques that will be used to provide evidence of student learning.
Phase III: Plan
Collaborative planning teams work together to formally plan a lesson incorporating the selected strategies and agree on the type of student work each teacher will take into the Analyze phase of the PTLC to reveal evidence of student learning. Working collaboratively, teachers
- develop a common formal plan outlining the lesson objectives (relevant to the standards), the materials to be used, the procedures, the time frame for the lesson, and the activities in which students will be engaged; and
- decide what evidence of student learning will be collected during the implementation.
Phase IV: Implement
Teachers teach the planned lesson, make note of implementation successes and challenges, and gather the agreed-upon evidence of student learning. Working collaboratively, teachers
- deliver the lesson as planned in the specified time period;
- record results, noting where students struggled and where instruction did not achieve expected outcomes; and
- collect the agreed-upon evidence of student learning to take back to the collaborative planning team.
Phase V: Analyze
Teachers gather again in collaborative teams to examine student work and discuss student understanding of the standards. Working collaboratively, teachers
- revisit and familiarize themselves with the standards before analyzing student work;
- analyze a sampling of student work for evidence of student learning;
- discuss whether students have met the expectations outlined in the standards and make inferences about the strengths, weaknesses, and implications of instruction; and
- identify what students know and what skills need to be strengthened in future lessons.
Phase VI: Adjust
Collaborative teams reflect on the results of analyzing student work. Teachers discuss alternative instructional strategies or modifications to the original instructional strategy that may be better suited to promoting student learning. Working collaboratively, teachers
- reflect on their common and disparate teaching experiences;
- consider and identify alternative instructional strategies for future instruction;
- refine and improve the lesson; and
- determine when the instructional modifications will take place, what can be built into subsequent lessons, and what needs an additional targeted lesson.
The PTLC process itself is not revolutionary, but its structure provides some clear direction for teachers as they begin to work together to improve instruction. Introducing and initiating the structure of the PTLC, however, is not enough to ensure that teachers use the process in a way that improves their classroom instruction and student achievement.