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Flinn Elementary School

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1 Flinn Elementary School
Professional Learning Communities March 28, 2009 April 4, 2009

2 Quote of the Day “It has become increasingly clear that if we want to improve schools for student learning, we must also improve schools for the adults who work within them.” Smylie, M.A., & Hart, A.W.(1999). School Leadership for Learning and Change: A Human and Social Capital Development Perspective PLCs give the teachers a voice – it allows them to share ideas and thoughts openly. Staff developments are more meaningful. Improves the culture of the school.

3 To create a professional learning community, focus on learning rather than teaching, work collaboratively, and hold yourself accountable for results! Learning and accountable for results are the key words to focus on in this statement.

4 How we began… Professional Learning Communities were introduced and extensive facilitator trainings began at our school during the fall of 2007. It began as a county initiative in 2007 with the support of TeachFirst. We chose six PLC Facilitators (Teacher Leaders) to be part of our School Leadership Team. Our school consists of 38 staff members. PLCs were created using the vertical teaming method. All instructional staff members, including Kindergarten Aides are members of our PLCs. Facilitator trainings were county-wide trainings. Gave us an opportunity to share questions and ideas with other schools similar to ours. Each PLC consists of about 6 members. Specialists have begun to be staffed out into other PLCs at the county level (counselor, art, music, pe, speech). Discuss vertical teaming method.

5 PLC Goals Consider our Strategic Plan, areas of weakness, and our specific school needs. Provide an open forum for all staff so that everyone has a voice, a say in our school culture, and better understanding of what we want to accomplish as an entire staff. Increase teacher awareness and implementation of new classroom strategies. Improve student learning.

6 Goals for Effective Professional Development:
Establishing and sustaining an effective site-based professional development framework using PLCs. Building instructional leadership capacity at the site level. Increasing teacher learning and use of instructional strategies. Increasing student learning.

7 Building Background Each PLC must have a general focus that reflects a goal in your school’s Strategic Plan. Last year the goal we focused on was “To increase student achievement in reading.” Our topic to assist us in meeting this goal was to increase and improve reading FLUENCY. The importance of celebrating your successes

8 PLC Expectations All PLCs are expected to meet twice monthly.
Attend all PLC sessions for your group and be on time to all meetings. Work cooperatively with all other members of your PLC. Use selected activities and strategies in your classroom and be prepared to discuss how your students responded to them. Facilitators will reflect on meetings through an online summary program.

9 County Level Information
One reason our PLCs are so successful is because our county has provided the staff development necessary to assist us in guiding the school level programs. County administrators read and comment on summaries to reinforce accountability for all. They place an emphasis on practicing strategies in the classrooms and bringing them back to share during PLCs. A major component of Principal evaluation

10 First PLC Meetings Began as a whole group to discuss “ground rules and expectations”. Created an image as a whole group before breaking up into individual PLCs. Purposefully made to be comfortable and simple for all. Participated in trust and team-building activities.

11 Scenario of a Beginning PLC in Action
Discussions revolved around Something ELSE we are being required by the county to implement as well as when are we going to find the TIME to conduct these meetings and implement these activities within our classrooms? What is the point of all of this? I can do other, more important tasks during these meetings and still listen.

12 PLC Meetings Each PLC must have a specific focus.
School Administrators and PLC Facilitators meet monthly to develop the topics and agendas for each meeting. PLC summaries, written by the facilitators, cover what was accomplished at each meeting and then can be used as minutes to begin the next meeting. 5 minutes before the end of every meeting, the facilitator asks, “What exactly have we decided here today?” Record so everyone can visually review. The summaries make the teachers accountable for holding their meetings. Natalie Humphreys 2/13 – Show all parts that they fill in and discuss. Point out where the administrator can comment.

13 Role of the School Administrator
To participate in county level PLC trainings. Meet with facilitators to plan school-based meetings and trainings. Provide time and materials for PLCs to meet bi-monthly. Provide support and assistance to facilitators if members are uncooperative. Conduct walk-throughs to observe what is being accomplished during meetings. Read and comment on summaries.

14 Logistical and Procedural Details about our PLCs
How will they be organized, who will they include, and how many members will each PLC include? How often and for how long will we meet? What will the focus of our meetings be? What resources will we have for our PLC meetings? Creating a common definition of the PLCs role in our building.

15 Facilitators Set the professional tone, structure, and work ethic of the PLC. Affords teachers a natural leadership role. Makes everyone part of the solution to a problem. Serve as a role model for all staff. Provide excitement and energy for all staff to relate to while trying new instructional strategies.

16 Facilitators Behave in a neutral, objective and non-judgmental manner.
Guide teachers in instructional conversations built around the Learning Cycle Communicates in a way that is well received. Read the underlying dynamics of the group Stays on a subject or task until it is completed. Displays professionalism and self-confidence. Uses questioning versus telling skills. Balances contributions among all group members.

17 A PLC in Action

18 Teacher Buy-In When teachers take responsibility for improving learning for all students in the school, they move from “how I do things in my classroom” to “how we do things in our school,” changing the culture from “me” to “we.” The structure of PLCs become groups of teachers coming together to engage in building a sustainable, school-wide instructional framework, using research-based Instructional Strategies to improve student learning across the whole school.

19 Conditions Required to Sustain Successful PLCs
Important Points to Remember: Develop a common language Learn from each other Develop action plans Reconvene and reflect Find the time to meet regularly Highlight and review

20 Barriers to Success Absence of Trust Fear of Conflict
Lack of Commitment Lack of Accountability Inattention to Results Continue to revisit these issues and address them if necessary. P. Lencioni: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

21 Personal Style Compass Point Activity
NORTH – Acting – Let’s do it! Likes to act immediately, try things, and plunge in EAST – Speculating – Likes to look at the big picture, the possibilities, before acting SOUTH – Caring – Likes to know that everyone’s feelings have been taken into consideration; that their voices have been heard, before acting WEST – Paying Attention to Detail – Likes to know the who, what, when, where, why, before acting

22 Frayer Model Graphic Organizer
Definitions Characteristics Examples Non-Examples Professional Learning Community

23 Watching an Established PLC in Action

24 Checking for Understanding
PLC summary reports document the discussion and proceedings, identify action steps, and quantify where each PLC is actually spending its professional development time. Principals can access all PLC Summaries in their building to monitor ongoing progress, and district administrators can monitor the same information across all schools.

25 Benefits of PLCs on our School
The staff has become more cohesive and trusting of one another. Content is not being duplicated throughout grade levels. Ideas are being shared and practiced among all grade levels.

26 Benefits of PLCs on our School
Topics and Concepts that have been addressed during PLCs include: Reading Fluency Formative and Summative Assessment ideas and strategies Checking for Understanding Strategies County Learning Targets Descriptive Feedback Strategies Student mentoring program

27 Continued Benefits It has given us a global sense of what is going on in our school. We are not 6 isolated entities any longer. We have become ONE cohesive school! WESTEST and DIBELS results increased last school year in the areas of RLA and reading fluency. This school year we have focused on KCS Learning Targets, forms of assessment and feedback.

28 The Important Thing about a Spoon
Is you eat with it. It is like a little shovel, you can hold it in your hand and put it in your mouth. It isn’t flat It is hollow and It scoops food up. But the important thing about a spoon is that you eat with it! A sample to show how it works

29 The Importance of a PLC The important thing about a PLC
Is ___________________________ It ___________________________ and _________________________ But the important thing about a PLC is ___________________________ Adapted from The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown – good summarizing tool. Ask the audience how they would fill this out.

30 Key Points for a Successful PLC
Building Trust Mastering Conflict Achieving Commitment Embracing Accountability Focusing on Results Refer to page 20

31 Website Resources




35 If nothing changes…nothing changes ~ Unknown

36 Handout Resources PLC Reflection Summary
Sample Agenda for upcoming meetings PLC Agenda Making your PLC your own Personal Style activity and questions Developing Norms within your PLC Graphic Organizer The Importance of a PLC Whip Around – Providing Feedback Key Points

37 Contact Information

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