As Our Professional Learning Communities Evolve. . .

With everything that’s headed our way with the changes to the APPR and teacher accountability, we need our teachers to start thinking about the future of our PLCs with us.  If you read the work on PLCs that has been written by Rick and Becky DuFour, you’ll learn that PLC teams are involved in collective inquiry, action research, improving achievement for students, results oriented learning. They say,

“We have a model in schools that was never designed for all kids to learn. No one teacher can possibly serve the needs of all kids in his or her class but WE can serve the needs of all of our kids together. What you do in your PLC should be supporting what you already have to do in your daily job, working together to make sure every kid succeeds.”

I’ve known since our original planning for PLCs that we need the work done during that time to focus on critical questions with student outcomes. With the increased teacher accountability through the APPR Process (20% State Assessments, 20% Locally Selected Assessments, 60% Multiple Evaluations), I’m so excited to see our teachers making significant shifts in their  PLCs. My original plan was to take 3 years to better understand the process before delving deep into the critical questions. All we hoped for in the first year was to change professional development for teachers, give you the opportunity to work together and decide your own learning goals instead of on size fits all, “sitting and getting” conferences. And you did a wonderful job of collaborating and sharing!

I know from one on one conversations that some of you have had with me that many of you are ready to shift your PLCs to these critical questions with student outcomes–tied to the Common Core and assessments.  I’m excited as I review many of the PLC Planning sheets, the areas of study are more directly related to student outcomes..

Specifically, what do I mean by that?    A team of fourth grade teachers or a team of ELA teachers  work together to take the common core curriculum, design and deliver parallel tasks, with formative assessments. The PLC time is used to do all of that and to take a hard look at the data— how ALL of the 4th grade students do BEFORE the state assessment. Why?So that teachers can say to one another, “my kids bombed this content or skill and yours did well–what did you do so that I can do it too?” That’s why the first year was critical in learning this type of professional development. We first had to learn how to build trust and listen to each other. PLCs should be looking at data, our own results, to learn together about what we can do better.

With everything coming at us from SED, you’re missing a huge opportunity if your PLC is about the latest tech tool or gadget. YES, it’s important to continue to work on learning with passion, innovation and leadership BUT it’s on top of our solid foundation of SED Common Core curriculum and student achievement goals. There are ample opportunities at Randolph Central where we offer Technology training one day per week all summer, employ Tiffany Giannicchi three days per week to support you, and Mark Carls two days per week to help you with your technology learning goals. You need only schedule them to come to work with you. These are all resources that have vanished from many other districts.

If anyone can do all of this work well, fully implementing the Common Core, better preparing students for the new assessments, working together to make sure all of our teachers and principals thrive in the new evaluation system which includes 40% objective measures—it’s all of us at RCS, together, here and now.


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