Professional Learning Communities

Regardless of the occupation, keeping up with current trends, learning new skills, staying abreast of rules and regulations, and mastering new techniques are behaviors exhibited in all successful organizations. Finding time when you can train staff on new techniques, introduce new skills, or learn changes to existing practice is always a challenge. This challenge exists in the world of education as well. Providing ongoing training for educators is absolutely critical to build knowledge and skill in the use of technology, curriculum development, instructional practices, classroom management, and keeping abreast with changes to federal and state accountability measures. (Continue reading by clicking on the title of this post!)Time is required to provide training experiences so educators can build these skills, and time is necessary for teachers to collaborate with their peers on effective practice.

Gibbon Public Schools will be implementing a concept called Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to provide that needed time. Experts and researchers have identified PLCs as a powerful school improvement strategy that raises overall and individual student achievement, increases the level of academic performance expected of all students, identifies interventions to help students who struggle, and provides enrichment opportunities for students who have already experienced academic success. Implementing PLCs is a journey and Gibbon Public Schools will begin our journey by unpacking academic standards for the purpose of identifying and defining the skills, knowledge, and dispositions all students are expected to know and be able to do.

So what is a Professional Learning Community (PLC)? DuFour, DuFour & Eaker define a Professional Learning Community as collaborative teams of educators working interdependently to achieve common goals for which members are mutually accountable. A PLC is a never-ending process in which educators commit to working together to ensure higher levels of learning for every student. Educators learn together about the best practices proven to increase student learning, apply what they have learned, and use evidence of student learning to make decisions and revisions to classroom practice to help more students learn at high levels. For example, every teacher who teaches 4th-grade students work together to identify standards that all students are required to master, identify and agree upon the level of performance expected for all students, and review and discuss several pieces of information that confidently confirms all students are achieving at high levels of learning.

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) meet on Mondays and this will typically happen twice per month. Students will be dismissed at 1:45 p.m. on those Mondays providing time when PLCs meet, plan, and discuss student performance.