Professional Learning CommunitiesEDEMWinter 2008 Presented by Gianna Labbiento Richard Mason Christina Shousha
Overview of Presentation 1. Definitions & Characteristics of PLC (Activity- Whole Group Brainstorming on Definition of terms) 2. Principal’s Role & Leadership Qualities (Activity-Break out rooms on Leadership Qualities) 3. Relationships Within the School (Activity -Break out rooms Discussion on Barth’s article) 4. Expanding PLC beyond the schoolhouse (Activity –Whole Group Brainstorming)
PLC -a definition of terms Brainstorming on the following terms: • P (PROFESSIONAL): • L (LEARNING): • C (COMMUNITY):
PLC –a definition A Professional Learning Community is a collaboration of teachers, administrators, parents, and students who work together to seek out best practices, test them in the classroom, continuously improve processes, and focus on results. *Rick DuFour, 2002
Essential Understandings • It takes time (3-5 years) • It requires trust • It involves quality training • It requires tangible support
PLCFundamentalAssumptions • We can make a difference. • Our schools can be more effective. • Improving our people is the key to improving our schools. • Significant school improvement will impact teaching and learning.
3 “Big Ideas” of Being a PLC • 1. Focus on Learning We accept high levels of learning for all students as the fundamental purpose of our school and therefore are willing to examine all practices in light of their impact on learning. • 2. Collaborative Culture We can achieve our fundamental purpose of high levels of learning for all students only if we work together. We cultivate a collaborative culture through the development of high performing teams. • 3. Governed by Results We assess our effectiveness of achieving high levels of learning for all on the basis of results rather than intentions. Individuals, teams, schools, and districts seek relevant data and information and use that information to promote continuous improvement.
6 Essential Characteristics of Being a PLC • Shared mission, vision, values, goals • Collaborative teams • Collective inquiry • Action orientation/experimentation • Commitment to continuous improvement • Results focus *DuFour & Eaker
The Principal as Staff Developer10 suggestions • Create a consensus on the school you are trying to become • Identify, promote, and protect shared values • Monitor the critical elements of the school improvement effort • Ensure systematic collaboration • Encourage experimentation
The Principal as Staff Developer10 suggestions cont’d • Model a commitment to personal growth • Provide one-on-one staff development • Provide staff development programs • Promote individual and organizational self-efficacy • Stay the course *R DuFour and T Berkely Journal of Staff Development 1995
ACTIVITY • A principal needs certain leadership qualities for a professional learning community to successfully develop. • Separate into groups of four in the breakout room and discuss the above statement. • Select a reporter and list those leadership qualities you feel a principal must have to successfully develop a PLC in their school. • Be prepared to present your list and explain why you feel these qualities are essential.
Our Ideas: #1: Modeling Description: An effective leader models the behaviours that are expressed and desired in the shared vision. They walk the talk. An effective leader demonstrates in every action and conversation what he or she values, believes and expects of the school’s community.
#2: Courageous Conversations Description: An effective leader has the courage to talk about the elephant in the room, the non-discussables. Nobody wants to talk about it, but everyone is talking about it. An effective leader has to be able to bring it to the table without fearing the response and yet in a respectful and tactful manner. The purpose must be for learning to take place.
#3: Development of a Shared Vision Description: An effective leader takes the time to develop a vision with the school community that demonstrates the school’s aspirations for a preferred future. “Today’s effective principal constructs a shared vision with members of the school community, convenes the conversations, insists on a student learning focus, evokes and supports leadership in others, models and participates in collaborative practices, helps pose the questions and facilitates dialogue that addresses the confounding issues of practice.”
#4: Building a Culture of Collaboration Description: An effective leader knows the importance of creating a culture in which people share expertise, communicate and work together as a team. This is when a learning community collectively shares a common vision and purpose, and works together to achieve it. Building a culture of collaboration requires transformational leadership.
#5: Shared Leadership Description: An effective leader discovers the strengths and skills of the staff and uses that knowledge to empower teacher leaders. “It calls on everyone within the school, …, to take responsibility for student achievement and to assume leadership roles in areas in which they are confident and skilled.”
#6: Being a Trans-relational Leader Description: An effective leader knows how important it is to build relationships grounded in trust and caring. The emphasis is on communication, collaboration, and building interpersonal relationships.
#7: Focus on Student Description: An effective leader puts the focus on the student. Student-centered learning is a way of thinking about student learning that drives the teaching practice. • i.e. a focus on how the students are learning, what they experience, and how they engage in the learning context. A shift from: • I will tell you this and therefore you will learn to: • I want to help you in ways which are effective for you and match your needs.
Roland S. Barth • In the article Restructuring schools: Some questions for teachers and principals (1991)Barth states: “Despite compelling evidence indicating that working collaboratively represents best practice; teachers in many schools continue to work in isolation. Even in schools that endorse the idea of collaboration, the staff’s willingness to collaborate often stops at the classroom door.”
Roland S. Barth • Research shows that a culture of collaboration is essential to be a successful PLC. • Therefore, how can Barth’s findings and suggestions in his article Relationships Within the Schoolhouse, improve collaboration within a school so that it stops at the classroom door?
Discussion Period • What parts of the article do you believe are key elements (gold nuggets)? • Are any of the relationships demonstrated in your current school? • Do you believe some are impossible to achieve? Why?
Roland S. Barth • Central to his thinking is the concept of the school as a community of learners and leaders. • He is currently chairman of the board of the Aspiring Principals' Program, run by Dennis Litky in Providence, R.I., with centers in Boston and New York, and is a member of the board of Editorial Advisors of the Phi Delta Kappan.
Two Relationships To Eliminate in order to be Successful: 1.Parallel Play Teachers work at relatively the same things but do so separately from each other. 2.Adversarial Relationships Blatant conflicts, withholding insights, not placing enough value on our own craft. knowledge and becoming competitors; rooting for the failures of others.
Two Relationships to Promote Success: 1. Congenial Relationships • Interactive, personal and friendly • For example, setting up the coffee for the day, or driving someone home • Congenial relationships help us get up in the morning
2. Collegial Relationships • Congenial relationships represent a precondition for another kind of adult relationship-COLLEGIALITY. • Of the four relationships, it is the hardest to establish. • Signs of collegiality, is when educators are “playing together” • 4. Talking with one another about practice, sharing craft knowledge, observing one another, rooting for one another’ssuccess
Relationships Within the Schoolhouse • What can teachers and school leaders do to create a culture of collegiality in their schools to promote PLC s? • Talking About Practice • Sharing Craft Knowledge • Observing One Another • Rooting For One Another
1. Talking About Practice A professional learning community is built on continual discourse about OUR important work- conversations about student evaluation, parent involvement, curriculum development, and team teaching. 2. Sharing Craft Knowledge A participant or two sharing an issue they recently learned something important or useful. A teacher new to the school explaining how students were evaluated in a previous workplace.
3. Observing One Another This is difficult because we will never be fully confident that we know what we are supposed to be doing or how students will behave. None of us wants to risk being exposed as incompetent….HOWEVER …There is no more powerful way of learning and improving on the job than by observing others and having others observe us!
4. Rooting For One Another “All too common in our profession is widespread awareness of a fellow educator in trouble: the principal under siege from a group of parents, or a beginning teacher being worked over by a tough classroom of kids.” We monitor the situation from afar as another person is hung out to dry- and we do nothing. OFFER HELP! BE VISIBLE AND SUPPORTIVE!
ACTIVITY • A successfully developed PLC involves a number of different stakeholders. • Take a few minutes, individually, to think about exactly who these stakeholders are. Be prepared to present your answers back to the group.
Conclusion • It takes a village to raise a child. • By harnessing the collective talents of staff, families, community members, an administrator can garner tremendous support in the quest to ensure that no child is left behind on the learning journey. *Pam Robbins and Harvey Alvy The New Principal’s Fieldbook ,2004
Reflections • Why might it be important to develop or enhance a professional learning community? • Reflect on the organization in which you work. What are the current structures in place that encourage and support collaboration? What new ones may be needed? • What connections do you see between building relationships among professional staff members and building relationships with students?