PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES AT SCHOOL
What they are, why they are important and how to create them
The term professional learning community has become quite commonplace in education circles. The term describes a collegial group who are united in their commitment to an outcome. In the case of education, the commitment would be to student learning. The community engages in a variety of activities including sharing a vision, working and learning collaboratively, visiting and observing other classrooms, and participating in shared decision making. The benefits of professional learning community to educators and students include reduced isolation of teachers, better informed and committed teachers, and academic gains for students. Shirley Hord of the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory says, that as an organizational arrangement, the professional learning community is seen as a powerful staff-development approach and a potent strategy for school change and improvement.
Standards in Practice Overview:
Standards and Looking at Student Work
Get prepared. Select a chair, timekeeper, and recorder. Read and discuss the protocol. Make sure there is a batch of student work that the group will look at in using the protocol. Review the following ground rules:
1. Behavior is professional throughout – no outbursts, no personal attacks
2. Everyone listens to everyone else and does not interrupt or talk over others
3. Praise where possible, but express critical opinions candidly
4. Accept criticism as if it were intended to help improve student achievement
5. Be brief, so that everyone gets lots of chances to talk
Do the assignment yourselves. Every member of the team does the assignment as given to the students.
Make a scoring guide. The group generates a rough scoring guide from the standards and the assignment.
Score the student work. The group scores the student papers, using the guide.
See what students know and can do. The recorder writes the group’s answers to the following questions:
1. What does this student work tell us about student learning?
2. What do students know, and what are they able to do?
3. Was the assignment well designed to help students acquire knowledge and exercise skills?
Do something about it. The recorder writes the group’s answers to the following question: What needs to happen on the classroom, school, and district so that all students can do this and similar tasks well?
Develop and carry out an action plan. The group plans and carries out action to improve student learning.
From NC Public Schools site
Here are a collection of resources to improve our professional learning teams here at Valley High!