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4thgrtchr 4thgrtchr is offline
 
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Professional Learning Communities
Old 06-01-2007, 12:16 PM
 
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Is anyone familiar with the Professional Learning Communities concept? Has it been implemented in any of your districts, and have you run across any good reading material on the topic?


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We do
Old 06-01-2007, 02:21 PM
 
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My school district implimented PLC's 3 years ago. I really like them. We have one hour once a week where as a grade level we get together and plan. We also talk about assessments and how our students are doing. It's kind of like a mini professional development. Next year we are going to start meeting twice a week on two separate days. We have a professional development teacher that sort of leads discussions and makes sure that we have some sort of agenda to keep administration happy. Ocassionally the principals might drop by to hear what we are discussing. You might google PLC's and see what you can find. I know there are educational journals out there on the topic that might give you more information.
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We've been there for years...
Old 06-01-2007, 02:37 PM
 
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We are currently meeting 2 times a week. On is a 40 minute meeting with the whole grade level AND admin. reps. We discuss data (usually get scolded for poor results) and best practices. Not always pleasant meetings. I feel they could DEFINITELY be handled better. Then just the grade level meets a 2nd time for 1 hour to plan. This meeting is great, we accomplish a TON of work and bond as a team.

Hope this helps. It all really depends on who is in attendance at meetings and what is on the agenda.
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Plc
Old 06-01-2007, 03:41 PM
 
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We are actually starting them this coming school year. Our principal got us each a copy of Getting Started, Reculturing Schools to Become Professioal Learning Communities by Robert Eaker, Richard DuFour and Rebecca DuFour. I know my team is very excited about getting this started. As a school though, we are trying to figure out how to work the schedule. I am on CLT and we had some ideas, but I don't know if we established a plan. What do your students do when you are meeting?
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Planning Time?
Old 06-01-2007, 05:00 PM
 
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When do you get together to plan. Is it during the regular school day, and with substitutes, or do you meet after school? Thank you for the information so far. I have heard lots of positives about the concept. We aren't going to start implementing it until the fall, but just wanted to try and get a jump on things. You know us teachers....ALWAYS trying to plan ahead. :-)


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Plc
Old 06-01-2007, 05:13 PM
 
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At my school we meet once a week during lunch recess, about 25 min. Our librarian does that recess for us, otherwise we do it. Then once a month we have 45 minutes during morning Mass time (Catholic school). Another grade level takes our kids and supervises them. We have really enjoyed having these and we can work and plan a lot of stuff during those meetings.
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Plc & Pdt
Old 06-01-2007, 08:16 PM
 
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Our district implemented the PLC along with PDT (professional development teacher). It has worked very well in our school. I have spoken to other teachers at different sites and have gotten mixed responses. It really depends on how well the PDT can coach and train. It also depends on the overall climate of the school. Our school has a forward thinking atmosphere, and the PLC environment has been accepted. We have now begun to implement ladder teams. These teams meet once a month and there is one representative from each grade level, along with AES facilatator and other ancillary staff.

The PDT will help model lessons in our classroom, help plan, assess, ect, ect. I understand the concept was developed back east and worked very well. It does require buy in from the principal. We meet once a week for 1 hour, and our team meets once every two weeks or as needed to discuss issues and planning.

Our distric implemented a balanced approach to literacy, and guided reading was one of the components. The PDT was very helpful in helping us set up stations, picking out books, and helping us to get start with creating schedules and so many other things.
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what kids do
Old 06-02-2007, 04:35 AM
 
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In our school building, we have an all-school meeting in the gym to start the day, called Rise and Shine. Every Wednesday, teachers meet slightly earlier than usual, principal, aides and volunteers handle Rise and Shine so the kids are kept busy, and we get 55 minutes to meet. High school kids who drive are allowed to arrive at a later time on Wednesdays. Some schools choose early out for the kids, but our community is very sports-oriented and there was a huge protest about kids with nothing to do before sports practice can start.

I'm a special teacher, and it isn't always clear what special teachers are supposed to do during the PLC meeting time. If you are a classroom teacher, you are always thought of first. Some resentment arose when I didn't meet with the grade level that I serve, although every introduction to splitting into teams implied that I wouldn't be with them. There will be growing pains as you get used to it. We started this past year and didn't split into grade level teams for several months. We started with a lot of learning about the purpose, setting our mission and vision, and team-building exercises.
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Old 06-02-2007, 05:16 AM
 
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My district started PLC's this year and they make us use our prep period once a week, as all teachers on a given grade level have prep. at the same time daily. Needless to say teachers pretty much hate this. We were originally told that we would use this period each week to share ideas and do common planning, learn new strategies, review data etc. What this time has actually turned into is our facilitators (sort of head teachers for the building who run back to the principal about everything) loading us with more paperwork to record data on everything you could possibly imagine. There is no real interaction between the teachers, it's more of a lecture on their part of what we need to do. We pretty much sit there and think of all the other things that we could be getting done during the 45 minutes we are sitting there listening to their BS.
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We meet during the day
Old 06-02-2007, 08:25 AM
 
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They have the schedule set up so that all kids in one grade level have their specials at the same time. For example, my kids would go to library and then music back to back.


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Old 06-02-2007, 02:02 PM
 
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We are doing this next year again. our principal is always giving us reading materials from Dufour and quotes and such. We are still figuring it all out for next school year, but it looks like the el will get about 1 1/2 hr total articulation time (we have a small el dept- only 5 teachers total). We will have no planning time (library and such will be during articulation time), but we currently have very limited planning time (30 minutes for library once a week and that is it) and no articulation at all.

Most of us are looking forward to it, but there is one really resistant teacher. It is really frustrating to try to build a team when there is a member who is very much "me by myself" oriented.
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what is common planning
Old 06-02-2007, 04:25 PM
 
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How do teachers plan together? I have never worked at a place where they have done that? What about your teachers who don't like to share ideas and are competitive with what they do in the classroom? How do teacher's plan together and do common assessments, yet keep their independence over their teaching style? We are starting PLC's next year and I also have many questions. It did not start off well at my previous school.
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planning together
Old 06-02-2007, 08:30 PM
 
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I have never worked at a school where teachers didn't plan together. The only times I haven't had a team to plan with were times that I was the only teacher in that subject area. And even then we formed board wide subject councils.
Teachers who are competitive and don't like to share find it very difficult to work as part of a team.
It takes time to build a team and there is a certain amount of give and take. None of us do the same thing exactly the same way.
We meet to develop assessment tools and report card comments. I guess it is so embedded in our school culture that I can't imagine working any other way.
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Not really
Old 06-03-2007, 04:50 AM
 
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planning time. When our grade level meets during PLC it's not planning time. We meet to discuss and learn about literacy and how the districts focus is to implement it. The PDT (trainer/mentor) gives us the information and the resources that will be made available. For example we implemented Guided Reading this past year. The PDT taught us the different components and then we implemented them our own personal way. We came back the following week to share how our different strategies worked or didn't. Upon sharing we went to other teachers rooms to help modify our own teaching style. The PDT was also available to observe our guided reading block to help give us advice, or just tell us we were on the right track. The PLC is time that we can either gripe about what's going wrong and get help, or learn something new. Yes, there is some data tracking involved, but it's not the main focus or our time.

Our grade level meets on a different day to plan, and then we only plan in very broad terms. We decide either what area in math are we teaching or which formative assessment we will be doing next. Our individuality is kept completely intact. I hope this sheds light on the PLC environment
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Old 06-03-2007, 09:35 AM
 
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Good point A&W.
I think I was struck by the question about teachers who were competitive that I forgot the other component of our PLC times. We too meet to development school improvement plans, analyze assessment data and determine next steps. We also have selected common goals to focus our PD on. We have done several book clubs over the last 4 years. This common experience also determines the things we do as a team. We have had lots of opportunities to meet and consolidate our learning. We have had common focuses and data collection on prediction / inference, conventions of fiction / non-fiction, writing traits, guided reading and currently literacy workstations. Sometimes we meet as teachers only, other times admin, literacy coach or central support personal join us. This year the literacy coach has been instrumental in providing the resources we needed and arranging opportunities to visit other classes.

Our PLC's are very honest. We have the freedom and trust with each other to say "yup, I like this. It works well for me." as well as to say "nope, this isn't going to help my students."
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Old 06-03-2007, 09:51 AM
 
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I loved to hear a little more about your Rise and Shine meetings!
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Old 06-03-2007, 02:53 PM
 
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We have early-release once a week. This means that the kids get out early (about 1 1/2 hours early) and we stay and collaborate. Some things have been more effective than others. For example, once a month we have grade level meetings across the district. The idea is that we can share what we are doing, plan lessons and assessments, etc. In reality, everyone just sits and stares at each other or complains how much work we have to do. I think teach & learn hit the idea on the head when she said the PLCs have to be honest with each other. There doesn't seem to be that much trust across building lines.

As far as planning together, we do more sharing ideas than having to be on the same page at the same time. For example, we may be all studying the same genre in reading but may have different approaches to it. We do a lot of teaming with Special Education/ ESL teachers though so it is a time to communicate ideas with them and work on these teaming efforts.
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Old 06-04-2007, 07:09 AM
 
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I'm going to a workshop this summer on PLC's. My school is looking to implement it. I've been wondering though, that those teachers that have been this for awhile, could you list:
1. pros
2. cons
3. scheduling...what does yours and the school's look like?

Thanks,

LaTina
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PLCs
Old 06-04-2007, 03:22 PM
 
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Our school has three years of PLCs under our belt now. The first year was the hardest, because we were told we were doing it but not everyone bought into it. However, our principal has been great about letting each grade level team undertake it in a way that is makes sense to them.

Our team meets once a week during our common plan time (specials time) for an hour to discuss PLCs. Then, we also meet during one lunch period to do all of the typical coordinating. During our PLC time, we discuss what skills our math and reading series aren't covering well, what skills we need to beef up for our state assessments, how we will pre- and posttest the kids, and how we will teach it.

Our team has created reading and math "clubs" to cover these PLC skills. On Monday and Tuesday for 30 minutes, the students are flexibly grouped for math clubs. On Wednesday and Thursday, the students go to reading clubs. To figure out their groupings, we look at how they did on their pretests. We try to make the groups with struggling students smaller and we go ahead and do more enrichment and extending activities for the kids that seem to get the concept already. That way, every one is working on what they need to be working on.

Believe it or not, it isn't always the same kids in the highest and lowest groups, so usually the kids just know that they are in that group because that's what they need to work on. We teachers also vary up which group we teach as well, so sometimes I'm teaching struggling students basic probability principles and other times I'm extending kids' concepts of time with time zone word problems. It sounds complicated and like a lot of work, but we have really perfected this over the last three years, and I really feel like the students are benefiting from it.
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Old 06-04-2007, 03:32 PM
 
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I've worked with a couple Algebra and Pre-Algebra teachers who were making a PLC, but essentially freelance. The principal was highly supportive and fought for extra money to pay them if they stayed beyond regular hours for their meetings and plannings.

The center of it all was weekly meetings and standardized tests with a couple questions per topic, but the topics would range from the most recent week to 3 weeks back and 1 weeks forward. Depending on the statistical analysis per class room and per the combinations of their classrooms, they are able to see where students are still lacking and where they are the strongest.

If Teacher A's class seems to be exceptionally strong with factoring and binomials, he would then present his teaching method to the other teachers so that they can potentially adapt a stronger teaching method.

Noted improvements in scores due to changes in method are recorded for specific implementation the following year.

In my research, I've learned that PLCs will only exist and thrive in environments where the teachers work well together -- otherwise it's like forcing random students to share ideas and suggestions without conflict. Like many acronym-based education initiatives, it really best works when it's the teachers, not the administrations, are inspired to implement.
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