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NJASA SOUTHERN REGIONAL SUMMIT PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES PRESENTED BY: DR. JACK McCULLEY STERLING REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT. What is a Professional Learning Community?.

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What is a professional learning community

NJASA SOUTHERN REGIONAL SUMMITPROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIESPRESENTED BY:DR. JACK McCULLEYSTERLING REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT


What is a professional learning community

What is a Professional Learning Community?

We define a professional learning community as educators committed to working collaboratively in ongoing processes of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. Professional learning communities operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous, job-embedded learning for educators. (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many, 2006).


Learning community is characterized by

Learning Community is Characterized by:

  • Shared mission, vision, and values

  • Collaborative Teams.

  • Collective inquiry.

  • Action orientation/experimentation.

  • Commitment to continuous improvement.

  • Results orientation.

    DuFour & Eaker


What is a professional learning community

Shared Mission (Purpose), Vision (Clear Direction), Values (Collective Commitments, and Goals (Indicators, Timelines, and Targets) – All Focused on Student Learning

  • The very essence of a learning community is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student

  • Educators embrace high levels of learning for all students as both the reason the organization exists and the fundamental responsibility of those who work within it.

  • Members of a PLC create and are guided by a clear and compelling of what their schools and districts must become to help all students learn.

  • Collective commitments clarify what each member will do to contribute to creating such organizations.

  • Use results-oriented goals to mark their progress.


A collaborative culture with a focus on learning

A Collaborative Culture With a Focus on Learning

  • Collaborative teams are the fundamental building blocks of the school community.

  • A PLC is composed of collaborative teams whose members work interdependently to achieve common goals.

  • Goals linked to the purpose of learning for all

  • All members are held mutually accountable.

Collective Inquiry Into Best Practice and Current Reality

  • Educators in a PLC engage in collective inquiry into:

    • Best Practices about teaching and learning

    • A candid clarification of their current practices

    • An honest assessment of their students’ current levels of learning.

  • Collective inquiry helps educators build shared knowledge.

  • Educators in a PLC have an acute sense of curiosity and openness to new possibilities.


Action orientation learning by doing

Action Orientation: Learning By Doing

  • Members of PLCs are action-oriented:

    • They move quickly to turn aspirations into action and visions into reality.

    • They understand that the most powerful learning always occurs in a context of taking action.

    • They value engagement and experience as the most effective teachers.

  • Learning by doing develops a deeper and more profound knowledge and greater commitment than learning by reading, listening, planning, or thinking (Pfeffer & Sutton, 2000).

  • Educators in PLCs recognize that until members of the organization “do” differently, there is no reason to anticipate different results.


A commitment to continuous improvement

A Commitment to Continuous Improvement

  • Work to eliminate the status quo

  • Constant searches for a better way to achieve goals and accomplish the purpose of the organization are inherent in the PLC culture.

  • Systematic processes engage each member of the school community in an ongoing cycle of:

    • Gathering evidence of current levels of student learning.

    • Developing strategies and ideas to build on strengths and address weaknesses in that learning.

    • Implementing the strategies and ideas.

    • Analyzing the impact of the changes to discover what was effective and what was not.

    • Applying the knowledge in the next cycle of continuous improvement.


Results orientation

Results Orientation

  • Members of a PLC realize that all of their efforts in these areas:

    • Focus on learning.

    • Collaborative teams.

    • Collective inquiry

    • Action orientation

    • Continuous improvement must be assessed on the basis of results rather than intentions

  • Initiatives are subjected to ongoing assessment on the basis of tangible results.


The big ideas that drive professional learning communities

The Big Ideas That Drive Professional Learning Communities

  • First, the fundamental purpose of the school is to ensure all students learn at high levels.

  • The future success of students will depend on how effective educators are in achieving that fundamental purpose.

  • Commitment to learning and schools must align all practices, procedures, and policies.

  • Members of a PLC work together.

  • Clarify exactly what each student must learn.

  • Monitor each student’s learning on a timely basis

  • Support for learning when they struggle

  • Extend and enrich learning when students have already mastered the intended outcomes.

  • If all students are to learn at high levels, the professional staff in the school community must also continue to learn.


What is a professional learning community

The Big Ideas That Drive Professional Learning Communities

  • Second, schools will not know whether or not all students are learning unless professional staff have a strong desire for evidence that students are acquiring the knowledge, skills, and dispositions deemed most essential to their success.

  • Schools must systematically monitor student learning on an ongoing basis.

  • Use evidence of results to respond immediately to students who experience difficulty.

  • To inform individual and collective practice.

  • To fuel continuous improvement.


Origin of professional learning community

Origin of Professional Learning Community

  • Professional

  • Someone with expertise in a specialized field, an individual who has not only pursued advanced training to enter the field, but who is also expected to remain current in its evolving knowledge base.

  • Knowledge base of education has expanded dramatically in the past 30 years.

  • In terms of research and in the articulation of recommended standards for the profession.

  • Professional staff in a professional learning community make these findings the basis of their collaborative investigation into how they can better achieve their goals.

  • Practice teaching and leading by constantly enhancing their skills and knowledge in the same way a doctor practices medicine or a lawyer practices law.


What is a professional learning community

Origin of Professional Learning Community

  • Learning

  • The need for professional staff to shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning.

  • To move beyond the question “Was it taught?” to the far more relevant question, “Was it learned?”

  • Avocation for learning communities, not teaching communities.

  • The best way to improve student learning is to invest and improve the learning of the professional staff.

  • Learning suggests ongoing action and perpetual curiosity.

  • Educators must engage in the ongoing study and constant practice of their field.

  • If all students are to learn, those who educate them must be lifelong learners.


What is a professional learning community

Origin of Professional Learning Community

  • Community

  • A group linked by common interests.

  • Common understandings.

  • Sense of identity

  • Belonging and involvement

  • Meaningful relationships

  • Communities form around common characteristics, experiences, practices

  • Members of the community’s beliefs are important enough to develop a kinship.


In a professional learning community

In a Professional Learning Community:

  • Professional staff create an environment that fosters shared:

    • Understanding

    • Sense of identity

    • High levels of involvement

    • Mutual cooperation

    • Collective responsibility

    • Emotional support

    • A strong sense of belonging

    • Collaborating together to achieve what they cannot accomplish alone


Becoming a professional learning community robert eaker

Becoming a Professional

Learning Community

Robert Eaker

Cultural Shifts


What is a professional learning community

Culture is often defined as:“How we do things around here.”Compared to more traditional schools, how are things done in a professional learning community?


Cultural shift

Cultural Shift

Traditional Schools

Teacher isolation

Professional Learning Communities

Collaboration


Cultural shift developing a mission statement student learning

Traditional Schools

Generic.

Belief statements; such as, “We believe all kids can learn.”

Professional Learning Communities

Clarifies what students will learn.

Clarifies how we will know what students have learned.

Clarifies how the school will respond when students do not learn.

Cultural Shift: Developing a Mission Statement Student Learning


Cultural shift primary focus

Cultural Shift – Primary Focus

Traditional Schools

  • Primary Focus is on teaching.

Professional Learning Communities

  • Primary focus is on learning.


Cultural shift curriculum

Cultural Shift - Curriculum

Traditional Schools

  • Each teacher independently decides what to teach.

  • Curriculum overloaded.

Professional Learning Communities

  • Collaboratively agreed upon curriculum that focus on what students are expected to learn.

  • Reduced content; meaningful content taught at greater depth.

  • Collaboratively developed assessment.

  • A collaboratively developed plan for responding to students who are not learning.


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift - Decisions

Traditional Schools

Decisions about improvement strategies are made by “averaging opinions.”

Professional Learning Communities

Decisions are research-based with collaborative teams of teachers seeking out “best practices”.


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift - Validation

Traditional Schools

  • Effectiveness of improvement strategies are externally validated. Teachers rely on others outside the school regarding what works.

  • Emphasis is given to how teachers liked various approaches.

Professional Learning Communities

  • Approaches are internally validated. Teams of teachers try various approaches and collaborate about how the approaches impacted student learning.

  • Effects on student learning as the primary basis for assessing various improvement strategies. Collaboratively developed assessment.


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift - Leadership

Traditional Schools

Administrators are viewed as being in leadership positions while teachers are viewed as “implementers” or followers.

Professional Learning Communities

Administrators are viewed as leaders of leaders. Teachers are viewed as transformational leaders.


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift – Improvement Plans

Traditional Schools

School improvement plans focus on a wide variety of things.

Often, the goal is to “get the plan turned in”. Then, the plan is ignored.

Professional Learning Communities

  • School improvement plans focus on a few, important goals that will impact student learning.

  • The school improvement plan is the vehicle for organized, sustained school improvement.


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift - Recognition

Traditional Schools

  • “Celebration” is infrequent and when recognizing teachers almost always focuses on groups.

  • Celebration and recognition occurs when students reach an arbitrary standard.

  • Recognition is limited to few.

Professional Learning Communities

  • Celebration is frequent and singles out individuals as well as groups.

  • In addition to celebration and recognition when a standard is met, celebrations recognized “improvement”

  • The school works hard to “create” winners and celebrate their success.

  • Celebrations are linked to the vision and values of the school and improved student achievement—Renaissance Program


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift – New Initiatives

Traditional Schools

  • Improvement efforts frequently shift as new fads or trends come along.

Professional Learning Communities

  • The school is committed to “staying the course” in the attainment of the school vision. New initiatives are only implemented if it is determined that the change will help the school achieve its vision of the future.


Becoming a professional learning community sterling high school somerdale nj

Becoming a Professional Learning Community

Sterling High School

Somerdale, NJ

Cultural & Educational Shifts


Where we started

WHERE WE STARTED


Plc at sterling

PLC At Sterling

Grew out of professional development on alternative assessment

Teachers sent to Adlai Stevenson High School in Chicago to view PLC process of common planning and assessment

Teachers became interested in developing common goals and assessments for each course

Needed common planning time for successful implementation

PLC was initiated to facilitate this goal and to focus instruction on student learning

Two morning in-service days / month are set aside for PLC time


Mission of plc

MISSION OF PLC

The three “essential questions” of the PLC initiative are:

  • What do we expect students to learn?

  • How will we know that students have learned?

  • How will we respond to students who are not learning


What do we want students to learn

What do we want students to learn?

State Standards

Established Curriculum Outlines

Strengths and Weaknesses of Students

Expectations of the community

Essential vs. Inessential Content

Establish specific essential outcomes per unit

Development of mandatory and elective activities


How do we know if they have learned it

How do we know if they have learned it?

Common Assessments for each course at all levels

Establish specific standards of performance, targets or benchmarks for each test to indicate student mastery of intended outcomes

Clarify criteria by which work is judged (rubrics)

Analyze results


How will we respond when students do not learn

How will we respond when students do not learn?

Analyze results of assessment

Utilize collaboration and best practices to identify and implement improvement strategies

Ensure that all students who need it receive additional time and support for learning

Re-assess to determine mastery


Plc focus on learning

PLC FOCUS ON LEARNING


Where we are now

WHERE WE ARE NOW

CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL SHIFT


Plc cultural shift

PLC --Cultural Shift

Professional Learning Communities

Collaboration


Cultural shift primary focus1

Cultural Shift – Primary Focus

Professional Learning Communities

  • Primary focus is on learning.


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift - Decisions

Professional Learning Communities

Decisions are research-based with collaborative teams of teachers seeking out “best practices”.


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift - Validation

Professional Learning Communities

  • Approaches are internally validated. Teams of teachers try various approaches and collaborate about how the approaches impacted student learning.

  • Effects on student learning as the primary basis for assessing various improvement strategies. Collaboratively developed assessment.


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift - Recognition

Professional Learning Communities

  • Celebration is frequent and singles out individuals as well as groups.

  • In addition to celebration and recognition when a standard is met, celebrations recognized “improvement”

  • The school works hard to “create” winners and celebrate their success.

  • Celebrations are linked to the vision and values of the school and improved student achievement—Renaissance Program


What is a professional learning community

Cultural Shift – New Initiatives

Professional Learning Communities

  • The school is committed to “staying the course” in the attainment of the school vision. New initiatives are only implemented if it is determined that the change will help the school achieve its vision of the future.


Educational shift curricular focus in a learning community

Educational Shift:Curricular Focus in a Learning Community

Until a school has clarifies what students should know and be able to do, and the skills and dispositions they should acquire as a result of schooling, the school cannot function as a learning community

There are four major assumptions for curricular development


Educational shift teacher should work collaboratively to design a research based curriculum

Educational Shift Teacher should work collaboratively to design a research-based curriculum

If a curriculum is overloaded --“Pay attention to everything”– it cannot have the necessary focus on results

Teachers need to be informed about initiatives and search for the right combination of theory and practice for their students and school at a particular time

Pooling uninformed opinions just results in making uninformed decisions

Teachers should be familiar with what is known about best practices and utilize and adapt those findings to the culture of each individual school and student population


What is a professional learning community

Educational ShiftThe curriculum should clarify the specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students should acquire as a result of their schooling.

Collaboratively agreed upon curriculum focuses on essential and significant learning topics.

“Organized abandonment—deciding what not to teach.” Reduced content allows meaningful content to be taught at greater depth

Develop a process of identifying significant content, eliminating non-essential material. Curriculum is “a mile long and an inch deep”.

Analyze each unit: what does every student need to know, what information would benefit students if there were time, what is insignificant enough to eliminate?


What is a professional learning community

Educational ShiftThe curriculum process should allow teachers to monitor student achievement at the classroom level

What do we want students to do as a result of this unit?

Not students will “understand” a topic, but what will they do to demonstrate that understanding

What methods and material will we use to teach the lesson? (Science department: required activities, elective activities)

How will we know whether students have achieved the intended outcomes? Observation, written tests, questioning, review of homework student performance projects, etc.


Educational shift curriculum and assessment process should foster continuous improvement

Educational ShiftCurriculum and Assessment Process should foster continuous improvement

Culmination of the three previous sections. An effective learning community will:

Ensure that a teacher’s daily instruction is consistent with the essential learning goals identified through the curriculum process

Insist that students are asked to learn content that has been chosen based on essential outcomes rather than on the idiosyncrasies of an individual teacher

Establish the expectation that each instructional unit will provide students the opportunity to practice the kinds of skill they will be asked to demonstrate during assessment

Ensure that assessments are aligned with curriculum and instruction


Where we are headed

WHERE WE ARE HEADED


Year 1 2005 2006

Year 1 2005-2006

Define Vision and Mission for each department

Develop departmental goals

Departments begin working toward development of common curriculum and assessment

Academic departmental folders were established on the S-drive for departmental work

Curriculum Committee of PLC leaders was established to monitor progress, concerns, etc.

Curriculum Committee felt the need for framework or structure in which the departments could work


Year 2 2006 2007

Year 2 2006-2007

Framework was developed so that every department needed to re-align each individual curriculum relative to the standards and re-structure if necessary

Led to an examination of each individual curriculum relative to the NJ State Standards—Science department restructured the curriculum using this data

Assessments in Science, Social Studies and World Language were developed to reflect NJCCCS and generate data on student achievement relative to the standards

Scoring and dissemination of assessment data took place

Common Final Examinations were developed and placed in shared departmental folders

Goals for 2007-2008 were established


Year 3 2007 2008

Year 32007-2008

Align all curriculum to the state standards

Begin to develop a working curriculum for each course

Identify essential topics

Develop mandatory and optional activities for each unit

Develop common unit assessments

Use data to target areas of weakness and develop strategies for improvement


Year 4 2008 2009

Year 42008-2009

Continue to focus on data driven information regarding student learning

Teachers work in groups to determine essential topics for each course aligned to the State Standards

Topics will form the basis of unit assessments that will be given at all levels

Remediation should be targeted to specific deficiencies

Data should foster discussion regarding teaching and assessment techniques to improve student learning

Formative assessments will be developed to assess student learning and benchmark proficiencies


2009 2010 and beyond

2009-2010 and Beyond

Continue to clarify essential outcomes for each course

Develop formative assessments that can serve to assess student proficiencies

Collect and analyze feedback on formative assessments to continually assess student performance

Develop activities ( required and optional) that address the essential activity and remediate any misunderstandings or problems

Continue to develop and refine common unit assessments

Establish a cyclical process of data driven, research based responses to student achievement

Recognize and celebrate student – teacher successes

Recognize that PLC is a constant “work in progress”


Plc and educational change

PLC AND EDUCATIONAL CHANGE

In times of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future.

The learned usually find themselves beautifully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.

Eric Hoffer, 1972


What is a professional learning community

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