Making the Case for Professional Learning Communities Placer
Making the Case for Professional Learning Communities Placer County Office of Education Renee Regacho-Anaclerio- Assistant Superintendent Educational Services Gerald Williams- Coordinator Professional Development Schools Dont Make a Difference Schools have little influence on a childs
achievement that is independent of the background and social content of that student. James Coleman, Equality in Educational Opportunity, 1966 Schools Do Make a Difference Effective Schools Research of Ron Edmonds, Larry Lezotte, Wilbur Brookover, Michael Rutter, and others included: all children can learn; and the school
controls the factors to assure student mastery of the core curriculum. Correlates of Effective Schools Strong Instructional Leadership Clear and Focused Mission Safe and Orderly Environment Climate of High Expectations Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress Positive Home/School Relations Opportunity to Learn & Student Time on Task
Schools Do Make a Difference An analysis of research conducted over a thirty-five year period demonstrates that schools that are highly effective produce results that almost entirely overcome the effects of student backgrounds. Robert Marzano, What Works in Schools, 2003 Sustained & Substantive School
Improvement The most promising strategy for sustained, substantive school improvement is building the capacity of school personnel to function as a professional learning community. The path to change in the classroom lies within and through professional learning communities. - Milbrey McLaughlin Secondary School Principals Endorse
PLCs Breaking Ranks II outlines the need for current high schools to engage in the process of change that will ensure success for every student. Its first set of recommendations and tools focuses on the development of professional learning communities. NASSP, Breaking Ranks II, 2004 NSDC Endorses PLCs
Staff development that improves the learning of all students organizes adults into learning communities whose goals are aligned with those of the school and district. NSDC. Standards for Staff Development, 2001 National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Endorse PLCs In order to take advantage of the broad
range of professional knowledge and expertise that resides within the school Teachers are Members of Learning Communities. -What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do: The Five Core Propositions of the National Board National Commission on Teaching and Americas Future The commission recommends that schools
be restructured to become genuine learning organizations for both students and teachers; organizations that respect learning, honor teaching, and teach for understanding. - National Commission on Teaching and Americas Future, 1996 NEA KEYS Initiative: A Reflective, Data-Driven Strategy for Continuous School Improvement
Shared understanding and commitment to high goals Open communication and collaborative problem-solving Continuous assessment for teaching and learning Personal and professional learning Curriculum and instruction On Common Ground: The Power of Professional
Learning Communities (Solution Tree, 2005) Roland Barth Rebecca DuFour Richard DuFour Robert Eaker Barbara Eason-Watkins Michael Fullan Lawrence Lezotte Douglas Reeves
Mike Schmoker Dennis Sparks Rick Stiggins A Powerful Guiding Principle Great organizations simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea or guiding principle. This guiding principle makes the complex simple, helps focus the attention and energy of the organization on the essentials,
and becomes the frame of reference for all decisions - Jim Collins What is a Professional Learning Community? PLC Defined: Educators committed to working collaboratively in ongoing processes of collective inquiry and action research in order to achieve better results for the students they serve. PLCs operate under the assumption
that the key to improved learning for students is continuous, job-embedded learning for educators. - DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, 2006 The term, Professional Learning Community has become so common place and has been used so ambiguously to describe any loose coupling of individuals who share a common interest in education that it is
in danger of losing all meaning. DuFour, DuFour, Eaker,many, 2006 They opt out for sorta PLCs and the concept begins a slow but inevitable death from constant compromise of its core principles. DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, 2008 One of the most damaging myths about school leadership is that the change process, if managed well, will proceed smoothly. DuFour,
DuFour, Eaker, 2008 Clarity precedes competence Schmoker 2004 It is difficult enough to bring these concepts to life in a school or district where there is shared understanding of their meaning. It is impossible when there is no
common understanding and the terms mean very different things to different people within the same organization. Characteristics of a Professional Learning Community 1. Shared Mission (Purpose), Vision (Clear 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. Direction), Values (Collective Commitments), Goals (Targets) Collaborative teams Focused on Learning Collective inquiry into best practice and current reality Action orientation/experimentation: Learning by Doing Commitment to continuous improvement
Results orientation First Big Idea of PLCs: Focus on Learning We embrace high levels of learning for all students as the reason the organization exists and fundamental responsibility of those who work within it and therefore are willing to examine all practices in light of their impact on learning.
Whereas many schools operate as if their primary purpose is to ensure that all children are taught, PLCs are dedicated to the idea that their organization exists to ensure that all children learn. DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many, 2006 Members of a PLC: Are guided by a clear and compelling vision of what their district/school must become to help all students learn
Make collective commitments that clarify what each member Use results-oriented goals to mark their progress If the purpose of school is truly to ensure high levels of learning for all students, then schools will: Clarify what each student is expected to learn Monitor each students learning on a timely basis Create systems to ensure students receive
additional time and support if they are not learning What Happens When Kids Dont Learn? High expectations for success will be judged not only by the initial staff beliefs and behaviors, but also by the organizations response when some students do not learn.
- Larry Lezotte, 1991 Whatever It Takes: How PLCs Respond When Kids Dont Learn In the four schools studied there was no ambiguity and no hedging regarding each schools fundamental purpose. Staff members embraced the premise that the very reason their school existed was to help all of their students the flawed, imperfect, boys and girls who come
to them each day acquire knowledge and skills given the current resources available to them. Period! DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Karhnek, Solution Tree, 2004 PLCs Create systems to ensure students receive additional time and support that are: Directive Timely Systematic
Assess Your Schools Response When Kids Dont Learn Are our students assured EXTRA TIME AND SUPPORT for learning? Is our response TIMELY? How quickly are we able to identify the kids who need extra time and support? Is our response DIRECTIVE rather than invitational? Are kids invited to put in extra time or does our system ensure they put in the extra time? Is our response SYSTEMATIC? Do kids receive this
intervention according to a school-wide plan rather than at the direction of individual teachers? Second Big Idea of PLCs: A Collaborative Culture With a Focus on Learning for ALL 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.
Need for a Collaborative Culture Throughout our ten-year study, whenever we found an effective school or an effective department within a school, without exception that school or department has been a part of a collaborative professional learning community. - Milbrey McLaughlin Need for a Collaborative Culture
Improving schools require collaborative cultures Without collaborative skills and relationships, it is not possible to learn and to continue to learn as much as you need to know to improve. - Michael Fullan Need for a Collaborative Culture Creating a collaborative culture is the single most important factor for successful school improvement initiatives and the first order of
business for those seeking to enhance the effectiveness of their schools. - Eastwood and Lewis Need for a Collaborative Culture If schools want to enhance their capacity to boost student learning, they should work on building a collaborative cultureWhen groups, rather than individuals, are seen as the main units for implementing curriculum, instruction, and assessment, they facilitate development of shared
purposes for student learning and collective responsibility to achieve it. - Fred Newmann Collaboration is a means to an end, not the end itself. DuFour, Dufour, Eaker, Many, 2006 A collaborative culture can be powerful, but unless people are focusing on the right things they may end up being powerfully wrong. Fullan, 2001
Advantages of Teachers Working in Collaborative Teams Gains in Student Achievement Higher Quality Solutions to Problems Increased Confidence Among All Staff Teachers Able to Support One Anothers Strengths and Accommodate Weaknesses Ability to Test New Ideas More Support for New Teachers Expanded Pool of Ideas, Material, Methods
Judith Warren Little Group IQ There is such a thing as a group IQ. While a group can be no smarter than the sum total of the knowledge and skills of its members, it can be much dumber if its internal workings dont allow people to share their talents. - Robert Sternberg
What is Collaboration? A systematic process in which we work together, interdependently, to analyze and impact professional practice in order to improve our individual and collective results. A PLC is composed of collaborative teams whose members work interdependently to achieve common goals- goals linked to the purpose of learning for all- for which
members are held mutually accountable. - DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, 2006 Critical Corollary Questions: If We Believe All Kids Can Learn What is it we expect them to learn? How will we know when they have learned it? How will we respond when they dont learn? How will we respond when they already know it?
Keys to Effective Teams Collaboration, with a FOCUS ON LEARNING, is embedded in routine practices Time for collaboration built in school day and school calendar Teams focus on key questions Products of collaboration are made explicit Team norms guide collaboration
Hand in Hand, We All Learn Ultimately there are two kinds of schools: learning enriched schools and learning impoverished schools. I have yet to see a school where the learning curvesof the adults were steep upward and those of the students were not. Teachers and students go hand in hand as learners.. or they dont go at all. Roland Barth Collective Inquiry Into Best Practice and
Current Reality Members of a PLC engage in Collective Inquiry: Into best practices about teaching and learning For candid clarification of their current practices To gain an honest assessment of their students current levels of learning To build shared knowledge To make better, more informed decisions To increase likelihood they will arrive at consensus Fourth Big Idea of PLCs:
Action Orientation: Learning by Doing Members of PLCs are action oriented Value engagement and experience as the most effective teachers Recognize that learning by doing develops a deeper, and more profound knowledge as well as a greater commitment Engage in collective inquiry and action research
Professional Learning Communities recognize that until members of the organization do differently, there is no reason to anticipate different results. DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many 2006 Traditional schools have developed a variety of strategies to resist meaningful action, preferring the comfort of the familiar. DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many, 2006
Fifth Big Idea of PLCs: A Commitment to Continuous Improvement PLCs display a persistent disquiet with the status quo and a constant search for a better way to achieve goals and accomplish the purpose of the organization which is high levels of learning for all students. Commitment to Continuous Improvement
Systematic processes engage members of a PLC in an ongoing cycle of: Gathering evidence of student learning Developing strategies and ideas that build on strengths and address weaknesses in learning Implementing those strategies and ideas Analyzing the impact of the changes Applying new knowledge in the next cycle of continuous improvement Commitment to Continuous
Improvement Action Research where innovation and experimentation are viewed not as tasks to be accomplished but as a way of conducting dayto-day business, forever. Sixth Big Idea of PLCs: Results Orientation: Focus on Results We assess our effectiveness on the basis of results rather than intentions. Individual, teams and schools seek relevant
data and information and use that information to promote continuous improvement. Unless initiatives are subjected to ongoing assessment on the basis of tangible results, they represent random groping in the dark. DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, 2008 Focus on Results Rather Than Activity Unless you can subject your decision-making
to a ruthless and continuous judgment by results, all your zigs and zags will be random lunges in the dark. - James Champy Without data you are just another person with an opinion. Focus on Results Todays school leaders shift both their own focus and that of the school community from inputs to
outcomes and from intentions to results. Rick DuFour By the end of the 2008-09 school year all teachers will be trained in and incorporate cooperative learning strategies into their instructional day. Keys to Effective Teams Collaboration embedded in routine practices
Time for collaboration built in school day and school calendar Teams focus on key questions Products of collaboration are made explicit Team norms guide collaboration Teams pursue specific & measurable performance goals SMART Goals Contribute to a Results-Orientation
Strategic and Specific Measurable Attainable Results-Oriented Time-Bound - Conzemius & ONeil Are these SMART Goals? Strategically aligned with the school-wide goal of improving student performance in language arts, by the end of the 2006-2007 school year we will:
Create and administer 4 common assessments in writing. Increase the use of cooperative learning activities in our Language Arts lessons by 25%. Increase the number of students achieving the target score (80% or higher) on the district reading assessment from 81% to 90%. Keys to Effective Teams Collaboration embedded in routine practices
Time for collaboration built in school day and school calendar Teams focus on key questions Products of collaboration are made explicit Team norms guide collaboration Teams pursue specific and measurable performance goals Teams have access to relevant information
How can we do this work! Asking how is a favorite defense against taking action. Peter Block, 2003 Our own work with schools has confirmed that a group that is determined not to act can always find a justification for inaction. DuFour, Fufor, Eaker, Many, 2006 Verbal persuasion rarely works against resistors who dont merely believe you are wrong; they need you to be wrong to preserve
the status quo. Patterson Something to Think About We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need to do that. Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we havent so far. Ron Edmonds- Effective Schools Researcher, 1987
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