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The Role of PLCs in Advancing 21st Century Skills

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1 The Role of PLCs in Advancing 21st Century Skills
Richard DuFour

2 What Are 21st Century Skills?
Mastery of core subjects (language arts, reading, world languages, arts, mathematics, science, history, economics, geography, government, and civics) Mastery of interdisciplinary themes Communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving Information and media literacy Life and career skills

3 21st Century Life and Career Skills
Flexibility and adaptability Initiative and self-direction Social and cross-cultural skills Leadership and responsibility Project management Accountability for results

4 Responding to the Call for 21st Century Skills: Denial
Between 1960 and 2000, the percentage of Americans 25 or older with a high school diploma has doubled. Between 1987 and 2006, SAT scores have increased for every subgroup. More students are taking more rigorous courses than ever before. Parent satisfaction with schools has never been higher.

5 Current Outcomes Black, Latino, and students from families with low socioeconomic statuses are, on average, two years behind white students of the same age in academic achievement. In 2009, 1.3 million students dropped out, or 7,150 students each day—one student every 25 seconds. Student achievement in the United States lags behind other industrialized nations. The K–12 system is not preparing students for success in postsecondary education.

6 International Comparisons
The U.S. high school graduation rate has dropped from 1st to 18th out of 24 industrialized nations. In 1995, the United States ranked 1st in the percentage of young adults with a college degree. By 2006, the United States ranked 14th. Out of 30 countries, U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 25th in math, 21st in science, 15th in reading, and 24th in problem solving on the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam. The United States has one of the smallest percentages of students scoring at the highest proficiency in math. Five countries have five times the percentage.

7 College Readiness? One-third of American students entering higher education are assigned to remedial courses. Almost 80 percent have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Only 12 percent of students assigned to remedial reading in college earn a bachelor’s degree. Approximately 30 percent of college freshmen do not return to their school for their sophomore year. The United States has one of the highest college dropout rates in the world.

8 Of 100 students who enter high school . . .
30 30 23 12 5 —ACT, 2008

9 Educational Pipeline 3958 3487 3080 2799 2015 1491 1169 725 —College Board, 2008

10 Hard Facts Regarding Dropouts
Dropouts earn 33 cents for every dollar a college graduate earns, and 66 cents for every dollar a high school graduate earns. They are more prone to ill health and to live shorter lives. They are less employable in a volatile job market. Their children have only a 1 in 17 chance of earning a college degree.

11 Responding to the Call for 21st Century Skills: Different Assumptions, Different Strategies
Assumption A: The problem with American schools is that educators do not work hard enough or care deeply enough about their students to help them succeed. Assumption B: The current structure and culture of schools do not enable educators to help all students learn at high levels, because the structure and culture do not support adult learning that is vital to student learning.

12 Carrots and Sticks National policy • No Child Left Behind
• Race to the Top Local policy • Supervising and evaluating individuals into improvement • Individual professional development

13 What Do We Know About the World’s Best School Systems?
The best school systems in the world recognize that the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. The only way to improve outcomes is to improve instruction. High-performing systems use the professional learning community process to support powerful professional development through teacher collaboration. —Barber & Mourshed, 2007

14 Turn to page 54 of The Role of Professional Learning Communities in Advancing 21st Century Skills handout.

15 Effective Professional Development
Is ongoing and embedded in the process of educator’s real work—developing and evaluating curriculum, instruction, and assessment Is collective and collaborative Builds the organization’s capacity to achieve its goals Helps schools function as PLCs

16 PLCs Essential to 21st Century Skills
To teach 21st century skills, schools must operate as “professional learning communities that enable educators to collaborate, share best practices and integrate 21st century skills into classroom practice.” “Schools should be organized into professional learning communities for teachers.” Schools should be designed to provide “knowledge sharing among communities of practitioners using face-to-face, virtual, and blended communication.” —Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009

17 Changing Assumptions From:
• The purpose of our school is to teach. We provide students with the opportunity to learn according to the best of their ability. To: • The purpose of our school is to ensure all students learn—to help every student acquire knowledge, skills, and dispositions vital to his or her success.

18 Focusing on Learning In a PLC, adults work together to answer the following questions: What is it our students must learn as a result of this course, this grade level, and/or this unit of instruction? How will we know our students are learning? What evidence will we gather to assess their learning? How will we respond when they don’t learn? How can we extend and enrich the learning for those who are already proficient? —DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many, 2010

19 Changing Assumptions From:
The fundamental school structure is the individual teachers working in isolation. What students learn, how they are assessed, and what happens when they do not learn are determined primarily by the teacher to whom those students are assigned.

20 To: The fundamental school structure is a collaborative team of teachers working together to achieve a collective purpose. Teams ensure students have access to a guaranteed curriculum, that student work is assessed according to the same criteria, and that students have access to systematic interventions when they struggle.

21 Our Culture Is Found in the Stories We Tell Ourselves
Reflect on the attempts to honor the teaching profession in film. What movies have been made to honor teaching? Is there a trend to their message?

22 Make a list of movies that depict what it means to be a great teacher.

23 Examples of Movies That Honor Teachers
To Sir, With Love Dead Poets Society Mr. Holland’s Opus Dangerous Minds Freedom Riders Stand and Deliver

24 What is a team?

25 Changing Assumptions From:
Our goals focus on the completion of projects and tasks. We use summative assessments so that students can prove what they have learned and receive a grade.

26 To: Our SMART goals focus on higher levels of student learning. We use formative assessments to improve student learning and our individual and collective professional practice.

27 How Traditional Schools Approach 21st Century Skills
The opening-day in-service program provides an overview of the rationale for and importance of 21st century skills. A copy of the 21st century skills and a recommended curriculum guide for teaching the skills are distributed to each teacher.

28 Teaching 21st Century Skills
Each student must be able to: • Develop and communicate ideas to others effectively • Articulate ideas and thoughts using written communication skills • Use communication to persuade • Manage time • Set and meet goals

29 In traditional schools, the individual teacher:
Decides what good persuasive writing looks like Determines how much time to devote to persuasive writing Teaches persuasive writing strategies to the best of his or her ability Develops an assignment to assess the ability of students to write persuasively Assigns grades to the writing based on his or her perception of good writing Determines how to respond to nonproficient students


31 Turn to the chart on page 59 of the handout and discuss better ways to analyze data.

32 In a PLC, the collaborative team:
Studies elements of good persuasive writing Develops criteria by which members assess persuasive writing and teach criteria to students Practices applying the criteria to actual examples of student work to establish inter-rater reliability Establishes a window of time for teaching the skill Administers common formative assessments to monitor student learning Uses common assessment results for systematic intervention and continuous improvement

33 Turn to page 61 of the handout.


35 The Essence of a PLC Educators gather evidence of student learning through ongoing common formative assessment and use it to identify struggling students who need additional time and support or proficient students who need their learning enriched and extended.

36 Systematic Intervention: By Name and Need
The most effective schools and school systems in the world monitor and intervene at the level of the individual student. The best systems take the process of monitoring student learning and intervention inside schools, constantly evaluating student performance and constructing interventions to assist individual students in order to prevent them from falling behind. —Barber & Mourshed, 2007

37 How Should a School Respond When Kids Don’t Learn?
By ensuring a student receives increased levels of time and support, in a manner that is timely, increasingly directive (not invitational), and systematic

38 The Essence of a PLC Educators gather evidence of student learning through ongoing common formative assessment and use it to: • Identify struggling students who need additional time and support or proficient students who need their learning enriched and extended • Identify strategies to improve individual teacher practice

39 The Essence of a PLC Educators gather evidence of student learning through ongoing common formative assessment and use to: • Identify struggling students who need additional time and support or proficient students who need their learning enriched and extended Identify strategies to improve individual teacher practice Identify strategies to improve the team SPM: Fixed intro paragraph and alignment, erased periods

40 Turn to page 62 of the handout.

41 The Most Powerful Strategy for Improving Student Learning
Teachers work together in collaborative teams to: • Clarify what students must learn • Gather evidence of student learning • Analyze that evidence • Identify the most powerful teaching strategies Reflective teaching must be based on evidence of student learning; reflection is most powerful when it is collaborative. —Hattie, 2009

42 From Focusing on the Individual to Building Collective Capacity
In a PLC, we move from attempting to supervise and evaluate individuals into better performance to building the collective capacity of collaborative teams to achieve goals for which members are mutually accountable.

43 How Will We Create the PLC Culture?
The culture of every organization is found in the assumptions, beliefs, expectations, and habits that constitute the norm for that organization. To change culture, we must first change behavior.

44 How Will We Create the PLC Culture?
“The central challenge of change is changing people’s behavior. The core problem without question is behavior— what people do, and the need for significant shifts in what people do” (p. 2). In a change effort, culture comes last, not first. A culture changes only when a new way of operating has been shown to succeed. You can create new behaviors that reflect the desired culture, but the culture doesn’t change until the end of the process. —Kotter & Cohen, 2002

45 How Will We Create the PLC Culture?
“The most effective change agents in the world focus on behaviors. They are universally firm on this point They start by asking: ‘In order to improve our existing situation, what must people actually do?’ They identify a few high-leverage behaviors, vital behaviors and focus on those.” “Often, all that is required to make good behavior inevitable is to structure it into your daily routine.” —Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, & Switzler, 2008

46 How Will We Create the PLC Culture?
Districts that doubled student achievement were characterized by a collaborative, professional school culture—what some refer to as a professional learning community. “This culture was largely a product of engaging in specific activities and not something created by the schools and districts before engaging in the process to double student performance.” —Odden & Archibald, 2009

47 To Move From Compliance to Commitment: Personal Experience
Create new structures and processes that call upon people to act in new ways because “personal experience is the great persuader!” —Patterson et al., 2008 “There is a large literature demonstrating that attitudes follow behavior. People accept new beliefs as a result of changing their behavior.” —Pfeffer & Sutton, 2000

48 To Move From Compliance to Commitment: Show Better Results
“Nothing changes the mind like the hard cold world hitting it with actual real-life data.” —Patterson et al., 2008

49 Teachers have to feel there is some compelling reason for them to change practice, with the best direct evidence being that students learn better. “The key to enduring change in instructional practice is demonstrable results in terms of students’ performance.” —Elmore, 2003 The mere presence of transparent data can be a powerful incentive for improvement —Fullan, 2008

50 To Move From Compliance to Commitment: Create Peer Pressure
Teacher learning communities are characterized by “supportive accountability.” Teachers have to be able to justify to their teammates that their strategies are likely to improve student learning, and they feel compelled to keep promises to their colleagues. —Wiliam, 2007

51 “Peer pressure and the distaste for letting down a colleague will motivate a team player more than any fear of authoritative punishment or rebuke.” —Lencioni, 2005 “As people in PLCs interact around given problems they generate better practices, shared commitments, and accountability to peers.” —Fullan, 2004 “Collaborative cultures and transparency of results create an aura of positive peer pressure that at the end of the day is inescapable.” —Fullan, 2008

52 Three Strategies for Moving From Compliance to Commitment
Create new personal experiences. Present irrefutable evidence of significantly better results. Develop positive peer pressure.

53 The Best Strategy for Creating a PLC Culture
Get people throughout the organization to do what PLCs do! Get started, then get better. Learn by doing. The goal is progress not perfection. Embrace reciprocal accountability.

54 Reciprocal Accountability
“Accountability must be a reciprocal process. For every increment of performance I demand of you, I have an equal responsibility to provide you with the capacity to meet that expectation.” —Elmore, 2006

55 To help build the capacity of teams, address:
Why (rationale) How (process) What (common language, tools, templates, materials, resources, examples) When (timeline) Guiding questions Criteria for clarifying quality of each product Tips and suggestions

56 Thank you! Richard DuFour

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