Posts Tagged ‘PLC’

Making the Most of Pre-K Team Meetings

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Authors: Cathy Doggett and Leslie Gaar de Ostrovich, School Ready Specialists

Pre-K teachers often use team meetings to share activity ideas for upcoming themes and to plan field trips and special events.  As the demands for school readiness increase, it’s necessary to shift the focus on team meetings to improving lesson quality and linking data to instruction.

Teachers who use team meeting time effectively work at least 45 minutes per week together on clear, measurable goals to increase student learning.  Team members come prepared to reflect on and plan lessons, discuss assessment data, and discover new strategies to support student learning.  Each team member reviews the Teacher’s Edition (TE) and/or scope and sequence of the curriculum ahead of time and is prepared to assume a role in planning process.

 

 

Team members begin the meeting by discussing what went well during the week.  One teacher serves as a facilitator, leading the team through a pre-determined agenda.  Teachers share lesson details that will help each other.  For example, Teacher A explains changes/improvements that she will make to the math lessons from the TE and additional math lessons she will teach.  She also shares materials she created for these lessons, ideas for extending math lessons into centers, and strategies for gathering data to assess math competencies on the Pre-K report card.

Teachers B and C discuss details for read-aloud lessons and centers related to the new theme.  As the recorder, Teacher C uses an action plan list for each task, listing who is responsible and by when they will complete it.  For example, Teacher A may need to e-mail shape cards to her team members by Thursday.

 

 

Teachers take time to identify opportunities to collect data to assess student understanding by using checklists, work samples, etc. They plan time to teach key Pre-K guidelines/competencies.  Occasionally they use team meetings to analyze assessment data and consider how they’ll need to alter RtI Tier I and Tier II instruction for struggling students.

Please use these School Ready website resources to help your Pre-K team maximize meeting time to improve school readiness:

  • Pre-K Team Meeting Frequently Asked Questions
  • Pre-K Team Meeting Outline
  • Pre-K Team Meeting Norms
  • Key Components of Collaborative Team Meetings

Professional collaboration requires a sophisticated skill set for open communication and conflict resolution. Without administrative support for teachers to develop and use these skills, collaboration is unlikely to be effective or sustained.

Questions to Consider:

  • What is really happening during your Pre-K Team Meetings?  How much meeting time is spent on deep reflective discussion about improving lessons and tying lessons to student data?
  •  What is one small step you can take to support your teachers to use meeting time to make more data-driven planning choices?

 

Professional Learning Communities – They’re More Than Just Another Meeting

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Author: Mandy Sargent, Region 13 PLC Specialist, Instructional Programs and Initiatives

 

Many districts and campuses are beginning to label specific planning or collaboration time as “PLC meetings” but by the true meaning of the term a Professional Learning Community is not a meeting at all.  Rather it is a culture that develops within a school to ensure that EVERY student is learning at high levels.

Richard and Rebecca DuFour are two of the leading names in education and as principals they worked to develop very successful schools based on a philosophy and process which has been coined Professional Learning Communities.  Along with their colleague Robert Eaker, they have defined a Professional Learning Community (PLC) as “educators committed to working collaboratively in ongoing processes of collective inquiry and action research 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 & Many, 2010)

Professional Learning Communities are based on three big ideas:  A focus on learning, building a collaborative culture and a focus on results.  The key to first establishing a PLC is to develop a campus culture and systems that support these three ideas and establishing a shared mission and vision that focus on a collaborative commitment to ensuring ALL students learn.

 

Focus on Learning

It is often difficult for teachers to shift their focus from an emphasis on “What am I going to teach?” to a fixation on “What are my students learning?”  A collaborative meeting within a PLC focuses less on which activities and worksheets will be used for instruction, and more on what specifically students need to learn, how to know if they have learned it, what to do when they don’t learn it and what to do for those students who already know it.

In a Professional Learning Community you do not hear comments like, “It’s my job to teach and his job to learn” or “I gave her the opportunity but she didn’t take it.”  Instead, teachers work collaboratively to ensure that students cannot fail.  As a school, systems are put into place that ensure additional time and support within the school day as mandatory interventions for students, not merely optional opportunities before and after school that many students cannot or will not attend.

 

Building a Collaborative Culture

In today’s schools, it is virtually impossible for any single educator to ensure high levels of learning for all students.  Instead, in a PLC campus all staff members agree that each individual is mutually accountable for the mission, vision, values and goals of the campus.  Systems are put in place as a school to allow teams the time and structure to work interdependently and learn from each other.

The backbone to a successful collaborative team is trust.  Without trust, interdependent collaboration will not exist.  To build trust teams need shared experiences, an understanding of the strengths of everyone within their team and shared commitments to one another.  Establishing team norms and holding each other accountable for adhering to the agreed upon norms supports team productivity and strengthens trust.

 

Focus on Results

Decisions within a Professional Learning Community are made based on the impact on student learning.  Rather than setting goals and measuring success by the intentions of the adults in the building, effectiveness is measured by the level of student learning that occurred as a result of the policies, programs and practices put into place.

Teams within a PLC need easy access to data in order to measure effectiveness.  Sometimes this means creating new data tools to intentionally gather information about specific student learning goals and instructional practices.  Teams use data to inform what is working and what is needed in core instruction, intervention support for students who are struggling and enrichment opportunities for students who have already mastered the intended learning.

In high functioning PLCs collaborative teams clarify what is essential for students to learn, create common assessments for learning, analyze data, and base instructional decisions on that data.  When a campus has become a Professional Learning Community collaborative time is no longer considered “another meeting” but is valued as a sacred time to all those involved.

For more information on Professional Learning Communities, you can visit www.allthingsplc.info.

Region 13 provides trainings and support on PLCs.

 

Source:

DuFour, DuFour, Eaker & Many (2010). Learning by doing: A handbook for professional learning communities at work.  Solution Tree Press: Bloomington, IN.