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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Jeremy Dane's picture

I work at a middleschool where the professional learning community model has really taken off. The decision making in the school is data driven. We are actively involved in the implementation of the CALI model. The collaberation among colleagues and administration in this school has a direct positive outcome on student achievment.

Jeremy Dane's picture

I work at a middleschool where the push has been towards the model of a professional learning community. The staff has really bought into, and been supportive of the model. The majority of the major decisions in the school are made by committees made up of staff members. There is a ton of support for professional development,and teacher collaberation. I think the PLC model coupled with the data based decision making, is why we have become a NELMS spotlite school.

Venetia Louie-Chee's picture

Our district have been supporting PLCs for the last several years. This year our educational technology department is venturing into ONLINE PLCs....focusing on technology. Any resources out there to help ensure we effectively establish, organize, and maintain online PLCs? Thank you in advance.

Debbie's picture

My district started implementing PLC's several years ago. As with any district, there are some educators who find it very valuable, while others are fighting it. We've implemented PLC time by having a late start on Monday mornings for all secondary schools in the district. The elementary schools have early out on Friday when they can schedule their PLC meetings. This gives the teachers one hour of time devoted to PLC's.

As for monitoring PLC's, my assistant principal, counselors, and myself have set up a schedule where we rotate among the teams on a set schedule. Every PLC is visited by every administrator/counselor at least once every other week. We also have a feedback form that all teams are required to fill out and submit to administration every week. The main thing is expectations, monitoring, and providing consistent professional development that is devoted to PLC training.

Rod McQuality's picture

I have been in education for 33 yrs and will be retiring in June. I have been a school principal for 21 yrs and an adjunct instructor at the university. I have a consulting company in which I offer online book studies for staff development. Could you please let me know topics of interest, benefits of online PD. How I could save you $$$ while adding meaningful PD to more staff. Thank you


My district is pushing for PLCs as well. Other schools are doing PLCs, but our school is not consistent. Part of the of the inconsistency is because my principal does not embrace going out into her building and assessing what teachers are doing. This is the first year that she actually took on will be conducting observations of her staff. Well she hasn't begun that process and I am agitated. Last year our school was one of maybe 3 middle schools that did not make high growth in our district and she just doesn't get it. What do I do? I am stuck. My principal only is only concerned about the look of the picture and not the quality of paint that went into creating it. Sometimes I feel that our teachers are happy with being at standard, which is a shame because we are an IB school. HELP...I NEED ADVISE QUICK IT IS OCTOBER!!!!

Eric Sheninger's picture
Eric Sheninger
Senior Fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education

IBmiddleschool: My advice to you is to take the lead yourself. You will gain the respect of your staff and greatly assist them in embracing PLC's if you yourself form one with other administrators in your district. Through modeling your will be establishing expectations and your staff will see firsthand that you truly value this form of professional development. If you want I can send you some resources from our PD days this year. As far as observations go that same can be said. Take charge and establish yourself as the instructional leader. This is the only way that your teachers will be able to grow and improve their teaching.

Joe Brown's picture


I certainly understand your concern. There are really two issues here. One, is the principal's mode of operation. Two, what the school needs to do to improve. The second is the most important of the two because it is the one that directly affects students.

As Eric said, you can take the lead. In my podcast show (School of Effective Teaching) I spent three episodes talking about PLCs. In one episode I said that to start, get with teachers who are willing to sit and talk about instructional practices. At this point, you can't worry about whether all teachers are doing it. Start with a few that are willing. Your success will be motivation for other teachers to join the conversation.

As far as being an IB Middle School, plans are for my school to become one next year. It will be an exciting time.

Dave Fones's picture
Dave Fones
Business and Computer Teacher from Champaign, Illinois

I've been to Rick Dufour's Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois three times and highly recommend it for everyone, particularly if you can go as a team. The first time I was there I joined 17 teachers and administrators from a high school in Utah that drove to Illinois in two vans.

PLCs are vehicles that should be used to accomplish goals (SMART Goals to be exact). Once you've PLCs to translate the standards so that all agree what they mean, use them to develop common assessments, then to evaluate the results of the assessments to determine where the weak and strong units of instruction are. Use the PLC to raise the weak units to the highest level possible and then raise the average units to the level of the strongest units. There are many directions you can take your PLC in from that point, but we are working on Differentiating Instruction for those who get it as well as for those who don't. There are many research based ways to utilize PLCs. Look through the books at and buy them for your staff library. Ask questions at, the Dufours, their staff are great and authors are amazing.

Preston Webster's picture
Preston Webster
Education Consultant


1. Focus on specific PLC outcomes that help teachers predict success when trying a new strategy. Prepare them to walk in, close the door, and teach better on a given day; and then be able to analyze results. Focus on classroom-ready MATERIALS OF PRACTICE. This focus will quickly prove it is about their content and better teaching.

2. Focus on how to make these brief cycles of improvement work in the brief time we have available. Make these collaborative improvement cycles work in hours.

Just like we need to meet teachers where they are, we need to meet the system where it is. Both teacher and system will change and adapt practices incrementally. PLC outcomes need to address specific reasons why teachers don't change and adapt.

Meeting the system where it is, we can ask, at the end of these "hours" how can we produce specific results that remove barriers to teacher change? In hours, how can we help teachers prepare for and predict the successful implementation of one strategy? Small cycles of PLC work should continually help teachers meet a readiness threshold for using and analyzing new strategies.

We need quick PROCESSES combined with STRATEGIES and TOOLS that produce results. We meet teachers where they are, generate small cycles that produce results, and adapt the system to support the cycles.

More details:

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