In the 1960s, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights explored the vital question, Can all students, even those from low socioeconomic communities, learn at high levels? This question sparked a movement referred to today as effective schools research.
The Professional Learning Communities at Work process is an extension of that research and has proven for decades to be the most effective process for getting all students to achieve at high levels. When educators commit to collectively engage in the science of teaching and embrace the PLC at Work process, it holds the potential to fundamentally transform any school and district into a beacon of excellence in which all students benefit.
Luis F. Cruz introduces participants to the micro and macro components of a PLC and sets the stage for the next two and half days of learning.
Leaders of high-performing professional learning communities recognize that developing shared beliefs representing a district’s or school’s mission and vision is not enough. They move beyond building consensus around shared beliefs to leading a process that results in shared commitments to specific behaviors. The question, “What commitments are we prepared to make?” forms the framework for action within a PLC culture.
Talking about grading practices is often a touchy subject, full of emotions, opinions, and personal beliefs. However, when schools make the shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning, they must be willing to examine policies, practices, and guidelines to see if they support the principles of learning. Tim Brown shows how a staff can engage educators in a collaborative process committed to grading practices that are aligned with learning outcomes.
Becoming a professional learning community requires more than committing to the collaborative practices proven to best ensure learning. A PLC must also be willing to discontinue policies and procedures that are counterproductive to student success.
Unfortunately, many schools stubbornly hold on to myths (widely held beliefs that are false) that justify teacher isolation and student failure. Mike Mattos discusses essential practices required to ensure high levels of learning for every child and challenges educational mythology that holds us back.
Schools that function as PLCs must ultimately do two things: 1) Build a collaborative culture to promote continuous adult learning, and 2) Create structures and systems that provide students with additional time and support for learning. After examining different models of systematic intervention and enrichment, participants receive criteria to assess their own schools’ responses and an action-planning template for next steps in raising the bar and closing the gap
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