Professional Learning Communities Podcast
I am a very firm believer that all parents need to know the expectations for success for students. I also believe deeply that parents need to understand how we are going to work as educators to ensure that your child is successful. When you drop your most precious resource off at our school, you should want to know what we are doing and how we are doing it. The how is sometimes overlooked in explaining to parents. However, I think it is very important for me to let you know “how” we are going to work as a staff to reach the Board of Education goal: WCPSS students will demonstrate high academic growth; by 2014, all students will graduate on-time prepared to compete globally.
This is a lofty goal and one that I am so excited about. It holds us accountable for something I value very deeply – ALL students deserve a minimum of a year’s growth every academic year. Now the question I have for you, do you believe educators can reach that goal; with higher standards, limited time, less resources, and a more academically diverse population than we have ever had – oh and by the way – we mean ALL students? I certainly do, but not if we do things we have always done. People that reminisce about the good ole days of education forget that drop out rates were extremely high not too long ago and so the educational success stories were the only ones to remain in school. They also forget that as recent as twenty years ago, there were extremely good jobs for people that did not receive a high school education. Currently, most good paying jobs require a high school education and skill sets that students need to have by staying in school. Furthermore, the global problems that currently exist require that we stretch our above grade level students. In other words, in my mind, we have a moral imperative to ensure that all students grow and are successful.
SO – How do we do that? I believe through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). PLCs are a strategy for sustained school improvement by increasing the capacity of teaching and learning through data analysis, teaming, and collaboration. PLCs require teachers to function with a core set of beliefs:
- All Children can Learn
- Educators focus on student learning
- All schools and people can be more effective
- All schools and people can continuously improve
- People improvement and team improvement are the keys to school improvement
PLCs also have distinct characteristics that educators must follow:
- Shared mission, vision, and values
- Collaborative teams focused on learning with pre-established norms and mutual accountability
- Collective inquiry into “best practice” and our “current reality.”
- Action orientation/experimentation
- Commitment to continuous improvement
- Results oriented – SMART goals
Finally, teachers in a PLC constantly ask, study, and answer four critical questions:
1. What is it we expect student’s to learn?
2. How will we know if they learned it?
- Study of data from common formative assessments
3. What do we do when they do not know it?
- Real-time (built in to the school day) remediation
4. What do we do when they already know it?
- Real-time (built in to the school day ) enrichment
You may be asking, why is he telling me this? Because I think you deserve to know that the educators at Lake Myra will work extremely hard to focus on student learning for all students and do everything we collectively can to ensure your child has high growth and reaches academic benchmarks. I think you’ll find that your child is in pretty good hands!