It's Elementary!

         an online forum for information from the Director of Elementary Education, Kelly K. Cartwright, Ed.D.

March 15, 2011

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

Filed under: Elementary,K-12 — Kelly Cartwright @ 4:23 pm
Tags: ,

I read Rick DuFour’s article, Work Together But Only if You Want To, in the February edition of Phi Delta Kappan recently. Rick and his wife, Rebecca, are well known for their work with Professional Learning Communities.

In his article, Mr. DuFour tells us that we must embed professional collaboration in the routine practices of our schools. We must expect and require this professional collaboration or it simply will not happen universally. Some teachers will choose to continue to work in isolation, even though “time spent in collaboration with colleagues is considered essential to success in most professions” in order to reach common purposes and goals interdependently.

This collaboration among other professionals – attorneys, doctors, architects, engineers – is expected and required. When teachers collaborate, all students benefit from the collective expertise of the entire grade level, department, or building. When teachers collaborate, we engage in a coordinated and systematic effort to support our students. In addition, a core strategy for improving student achievement is building the capacity of teachers to work as members of a collaborative professional learning community. DuFour cites a wealth of research linking high levels of student achievement to educators working in a collaborative culture of a professional learning community.

Professional collaboration includes:

  • developing a guaranteed and viable curriculum that ensures that all students have access to the same essential knowledge and skills regardless of who their teacher is
  • establishing clear benchmarks
  • implementing agreed upon measures to monitor progress
  • instituting a comprehensive, balanced assessment process that includes common formative assessments
  • gathering and jointly examining ongoing data regarding student learning
  • making informed decisions based on evidence of the most promising strategies for meeting the needs of students
  • creating a systematic, multi-tiered process that ensures that struggling students receive necessary time and supports
  • identifying the right work and creating processes to support teams so they can focus on improving student learning
  • enhancing our practice, individually and collectively

DuFour quotes the president of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF): “Quality teaching is not an individual accomplishment, it is the result of a collaborative culture that empowers teachers to team up to improve student learning beyond what any of them can achieve alone”.

At the elementary level, we are moving forward with a change to a four day cycle schedule for the 2011-2012 school year. We are striving toward creating the structure and culture and providing opportunities to ensure that professional collaboration and interdependence, with the purpose of improving our professional practice and improving student learning, become the norm.

To learn more about PLCs, visit and/or Google Rick Dufour.

The way organizations are now is a product of how we think and interact. We cannot change in any fundamental way unless we change our basic patterns of thinking and interacting so that learning can be a way of life. Peter Senge

1 Comment »

  1. […] It’s Elementary! by Dr. Kelly Cartwright. Her lasted post is about Professional Learning Communities […]

      Info Librarian » Blog Archive » Blogs For Educators for your PLN — March 29, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

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