In Dublin Unified, we are proud to say that we are a Professional Learning Community.
Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, are school-improvement models aimed at improving student learning for each individual student.
Throughout the school year, our elementary schools, middle schools and high schools dismiss early for Collaboration or Professional Learning Community time. In order to ensure that every student is learning, teachers meet regularly in groups, or PLCs, to focus on individual and overall student learning, which you have come to know as "Collaboration Days".
The professional learning community is based on a single, simple premise: To be effective, educators must change their focus from teaching to learning. In a PLC, educators have three goals:
- Ensuring that all students learn. Every classroom includes students of varying abilities. In a PLC, teachers are prepared to serve both the students who learn material quickly and those who need additional time and support. That means developing a coordinated strategy to provide timely intervention when students are struggling.
- Creating a culture of collaboration. In many schools, teachers work in isolation. While staff may come together to formulate basic operational policies (like how to respond to tardiness or supervise recess), they do not engage in professional dialogue about what works in their classrooms. In a PLC school, educators share best practices, join forces to solve problems and work together to improve both their individual performances and the school's performance as a whole.
- Focusing on results. To ensure that a PLC meets its educational goals, educators must identify students' current levels of achievement, establish clear educational objectives, work together to meet those goals and provide evidence that they have succeeded.
Teams of teachers will look at students' achievement to see if they are performing at their grade level.
The teams will focus on the answers to four important questions based on the goals above:
• What do we want each student to learn?
• How will we know when each student has learned it?
• How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?
• How will we respond when a student has already learned essential knowledge and skills?
Why are there early release dates? PLCs require time dedicated for this dialogue to occur. The most effective collaboration comes from time set aside specifically for this purpose, separate from traditional teaching and planning time. These collaborative teams need an extended period of time to focus on individual needs and to work together toward solutions.
Is my child losing instructional time because of PLCs? No. There is no loss of instructional time for students. Based on the work done during Collaboration periods, teachers can use their time in the classroom with your students more efficiently.