The term Professional Learning Community (PLC) has evolved for many years in the area of school culture and educational reform. According to Richard DuFour , the PLC is a “powerful new way of working together”.
Generally, a PLC is a group of people who regularly work together to reflect, collaborate, inquire and overall, enhance their effectiveness for student learning. It is a way of working together that results in continuous school improvement by making decisions about instructional practices.
The core mission of a PLC is to ensure that students learn. The emphasis is on student learning rather than on teaching. The focus is on building a culture of collaboration and results for student learning.
The Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools conducted a 5 year longitudinal study that included an analysis of data related to the implementation of PLCs. This data used was submitted from more than 1,500 schools including elementary, middle and high schools. In part, this study found that PLCs encourage a collaborative discussion so that teachers can implement consistent curriculum with the agreement of shared goals for student learning.
Several key questions regarding monitoring student learning that can be used in PLCs include:
- What steps or activities must be initiated to create this condition in your school?
- Who will be responsible for initiating or sustaining these steps or activities?
- What is a realistic timeline for each step or phase of the activity?
- What will you use to assess the effectiveness of your initiative?
Classroom teachers and administrators can benefit from PLCs by working together to implement evidence-based data.
Making critical decisions for student learning about instruction, curriculum, and assessment is at the heart of the craft of teaching. PLCs provide an avenue for sustained change and continual student progress and improvement.
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