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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation


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My district has begun to make a big push for the implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLC's). Now I am fully aware of what PLC's are and how they are supposed to function within a school. Can anyone share with me their experience with them? How have you set time aside for them? How do you monitor them? Do your teachers think they effective in terms of professional growth? What are the positives and negatives? Can you tell me how you got your teachers to "buy into" the concept?

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Eric Sheninger's picture
Eric Sheninger
Principal at New Milford High School

I came across this website this morning when I was reading Digital Directions:
Here is a quick summary taken from the website:

"All Things PLC, All in One Place! This site was created to serve as a collaborative, objective resource for educators and administrators who are committed to enhancing student achievement. We invite you to share your knowledge, ask questions, and get expert insight into the issues teachers face each day in the classroom. The All Things PLC website provides research, articles, data and tools to educators who seek information about Professional Learning Communities at Work(tm). This information is provided so schools and districts have relevant, practical knowledge and tools as they create and sustain their Professional Learning Community"

What is really cool about this resource is that you can download sample agendas and activities, choose from a variety of helpful links, and find/compare statistics with other PLC schools.

Steve J. Moore's picture
Steve J. Moore
I'm a writing teacher in Kansas City

What a great site! I had no idea there was a Solution Tree site for PLCs. It looks like Rick DuFour has his hand in it.

Thanks Eric!

Lisa Marin's picture

The school I came to as an administrator 2 years ago had created common prep times for grade level teams. As a school that focuses on project-based learning, this was essential---and the by-product has been grade level teacher collaboration that clearly enhances the quality of instruction, learning and professional well-being, plus provides time to integrate subject matter. Now to strengthen the vertical teams and pull all together into a true PLC, that seems to be the challenge.What a find to help in this effort--the PLC website.

Rob Jacobs's picture
Rob Jacobs
Program Specialist II / Fullerton School District

As an elementary site, we use early release Wednesdays, and twice weekly PE time. Further, we use learning assemblies students to allow release time for teachers to meet in grade level PLCs to do classroom walk-throughs or focus on special topics.

Eric Sheninger's picture
Eric Sheninger
Principal at New Milford High School


What do you look for during walk-throughs? Are you provided with some sort of guide/checklist? Also, can you share with me some of the special topics you have explored and their relationship to improving instruction?

Lisa Marin's picture

Our teachers have common prep time (grade level) every day and they collaborate on projects as well as assessments and other aspects of same grade curriculum and instruction (we are a project-based school). Content teams meet once or twice each month on Friday afternoons (we have carved out time for teacher meetings on Fridays). They begin the school year by reviewing the prior year's testing data and identifying areas of strength and weakness and determining an area of focus at each grade level. Subsequently they decide what activity or activities will improve their practice and result in greater student achievement in those areas, share ideas, support each other's practice, and review and refine scope and sequence with any curriculum adjustments. An administrator attends the content meetings and a summary is provided. Because of the large role of the grade-level projects, this content collaboration has not been a focus until recently, and it has become a dynamic practice that enhances the school culture. At this point we are not labeling them PLCs, but as a goal we are working towards pulling the teams together into a more structured all-school learning community.

Jayme Linton's picture

Each elementary school in our district has a weekly PLC team meeting with each grade level for 45 minutes. Grade level teams also have an additional 45-minute planning time on the other days and one 90-minute planning block one day a week. Each school has an Instructional Coach who facilitates PLC team meetings. The Instructional Coach helps teams analyze data, write goals, and share best practices. We also use PLC time for book studies, make-and-take sessions, and teacher sharing. Our middle and high schools have PLC team meetings but their structure is different.

Diane Brooks's picture

First of all, if you need your teachers to "buy into" anything, that should be a clear indication that it's not worth the effort. No one needs to "buy into" what's right for students or the truth.
In our state we call these days Professional Development Days. They truly are a waste of time, create a good deal of disillusionment and take away what could be valuable planning time. Almost half of our students stay home on these "half" day, which makes the entire day worthless.

Very Experienced Teacher's picture

Amen! Such a waste of time--This is nothing new. Twenty-five years ago this was a part of the middle school concept. It went by the way side then because it was useless;just as everything else in education, it has gone full circle again; it won't work in our district because even if the teams and teachers have good ideas, those in authority do what they want to do anyway; the PLC's are just a way to make teachers think they have input when in reality the decisions have already been made. Not only that, but even after good sound decisions have been made and implemented for several months, the district will make abrupt changes and send over someone to deliver the message instead of the two top district administrators because they don't want to have to explain themselves to the teachers after having previously given their blessings to new procedures which were working. Teachers in this district are NOT valued as professionals; PLC's are currently mandated by the state. It will change;it won't last long;eventually, it will go full circle again just like everything else. The only true change in education is technology--the way the lessons are presented. Real teachers will teach with or without the new technology; the new technology makes it easier to teach. If we didn't have technology we would be creative enough to even go back to the very basic concept of writing in the sand if the need arrived. WE are the kinds of teachers who insure that learning is taking place, no matter what; technology and PLC's are NOT ever going to change that despite what those in charge may do; most teachers have sense enough to close their doors and do what is best for their students.

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