Professional learning communities

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by teaching tigers, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. teaching tigers

    teaching tigers Rookie

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    Aug 11, 2008

    My administrator is thinking about starting PLC's and she asked me to help research this. Do any of your schools do PLC's? What do you think about it, and how is it implemented? :confused:
     
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  3. MissHunny

    MissHunny Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2008

    we will be doing them this year. Basically it is a team approach (grade level and support staff) for students struggling in any area. Other teachers will come in and observe the student and suggestions will be made. The team will brainstorm ideas, and hopefully there will be more follow through. We will be using PLCs so that we aren't always ISTing students over things that could have been helped with the support of the school staff. I am looking forward to using them.
     
  4. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Aug 11, 2008

    Nebraska (well, douglas and sarpy co.) are supposed to be forming a learning community starting ???? Thought it was this year, but I really have no idea. I'm not in the public schools. Since the big brouhaha has died down the media doesn't cover it much anymore. Still, you might want to look at the Omaha Public Schools website or do a search for Omaha Learning community and see what pops up. It might give you some ideas about how they plan to implement it.
     
  5. ashley57

    ashley57 Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2008

    ugh. we have PLCs, but they're a waste of time. At my school, we meet every Tuesday for about an hour to discuss a topic/strategy, how it can be implemented, etc. Sometimes teams discuss, sometimes there is cross-grade level discussion. Unfortunately, it is typically pretty useless.

    I think it just gets tedious, so our attitudes stink. Probably could (definately should) be more beneficial.
     
  6. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Aug 11, 2008

    We dabbled with it last year, and like ashley said, it was a waste of time.
    I am sure my P will be going full force this year with them- hopefully it will not be such a waste.
     
  7. km51571

    km51571 Companion

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    Aug 11, 2008

    Giraffe,
    We're starting this year. The idea sounds good in theory but don't all ideas sound good in theory?!
     
  8. bakingdiva

    bakingdiva Companion

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    Aug 12, 2008

    We've done PLC's for 2 years and I really think it's all in how it's implemented. We use our hour per week to discuss a specific learning area, such as reading or math. We all bring samples from students work relating to that area. We then discuss ways to improve our instruction based on the results we see from our kids. It has really helped our new teacher get a handle on what is expected and how her kids compare ito other classes. Each week we have a different focus. This is how our team decided to conduct PLC's:
    Week 1: Reading- look at Guided Reading levels- show samples of running records, analyze what strategies they are using/not using. Discuss Reading Recovery kids at this time also.
    Week 2: Math- bring in work samples. Discuss what centers we are using to encourage skill development.
    Week 3: Writing: bring writing samples of high, medium, and low students. Compare strenghts and weaknesses. Share mini-lessons and literature
    Week 4: Behavior issues and other concerns
     
  9. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Aug 12, 2008

    My school has been doing PLCs for 4 years, and it's very structured, similar to what baking diva described. I also think it's all in hw it's implemented. I don't know enough about PLCs to get into details (I'm first year), but it seems to have made my schol very close. All the teams meet for 90 mins once per week for PLC (we have subs/TA's to watch our classes). Even the specials teachers (PhysEd, Music, etc.) get together and try to design lessons to work with each grade level. At my school, it's viewed as a positive thing. I had an all-day training on it yesterday, and I have another all-day PLC training today, so it's obvious my school thinks PLC is important.

    Anyway, I'm rambling, sorry! If you have more specific questions. maybe I'll have answers after today ;)
     
  10. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Aug 12, 2008

    Also, google Richard and Rebecca DuFour. From what I hear, this husband and wife team "invented" PLC.
     
  11. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    Aug 12, 2008


    Exactly - I was in a school that implemented them last year and they were awful, a waste of time - meeting for at least 1 hr on a Thursday, more paperwork to show to the admins that we were meeting and working together, had to have a "celebration" at the end of year to show what we accomplished (the last Wed of the school year for over 2 hours all the groups had to get up in front of the rest of us and present their "findings" however everyone pretty much had the same thing because we had a plc focus group that narrowed down our focus for the second 1/2 of the year).

    We had a consultant come in to help but it didn't - I don't know in the big picture what it was supposed to do but help us to improve our students academics however if you are in a school where you are stretched thin with other meetings, piling another obligation that really doesn't allow you to work directly with students or give you any down time ever it's hard to see how these PLC groups helped.

    I don't think anyone at our school thought they were helpful or beneficial and our consultant works/knows the author of the book that we used that deals with PLC groups.

    Maybe others had a better experience with it but I didn't so I have a pretty negative view towards it - I just think that it was something that could've been accomplished without the formality and structured waste of time.

    Okay enough of my ranting on this topic. :blush:
     
  12. zoodies

    zoodies Rookie

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    Aug 12, 2008

    We have been a PLC school district for 5 years. We have it down to a system now. It was horrible the first 2 years. We have early out each Wed. and meet as grade levels, building, or district depending on the issues. Our lower elementary and jr. high has been recognized as a leader PLC school. It took a long time, and they won't be switching any time soon. I like it now that things are finally organized.
     
  13. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Aug 12, 2008

    We did it last year at my school. It was a total waste of time since there were only 5 teachers in my school (including me) and we all taught different grades.:(.
     
  14. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Aug 12, 2008

    I hate to disagree with so many of you, but PLC's are totally worth the time! It's basically all a way of thinking - we are moving our focus from teaching to student learning. Our district is two years in and we're seeing some real results! We are focusing on whether or not our students are learning what we want them to learn and what we do when they don't get it.
    We've begun the shift from independence and isolation to interdependence and total teamwork. We're building trust and its COMPLETELY worth the time! Once administration is on board (and ours is!) teachers are seeing the real value in the PLC concept. I attended a conference in San Francisco and it's just a 'duh' moment. PLC is what teachers should have been doing all along! I've read several books on PLCs and I love love love it. Again, if its done the wrong way I can see where it would appear to be a waste of time. But purchase the 'Learning by Doing' book and you will see the value!
     
  15. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

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    Aug 12, 2008

    PLCs sounded great at our training last year. Then...nothing. We met with our grade level teachers (1 other new one) and we sort of sat and stared at the cobwebs. Not much was accomplished that was along the lines of what I had expected. I was bummed that we did not have the guidance of our admin or any other experienced teacher.
    It is a great concept though.
     
  16. 5thgraderocks

    5thgraderocks Companion

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    Aug 12, 2008

    We are using PLCs and "waste of time" sums up the experience! I guess if grade level teams NEVER worked together, it might be beneficial. The formality, paperwork, and use of "former" prep time has been a PR nightmare for most of our staff. I hate to sound like a whiner ... but PLCs amount to less planning time in our building.
     
  17. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2008

    PLC's should amount to more planning time! It sounds like your administration could use more training, 5thgraderocks! Ours has provided us with 40 mins of collab time in the morning, and 1 hour shared specials time in the afternoon. At first, we didn't know what to collaborate about either. It was always field trips and complaining... But now we bring assessments, get into the meat of our units and really discuss if our kids are learning or not. We compare their test scores (I know it sounds scary. It was at first) so that we can see where we need to revisit things. This may be something people do independently, but it becomes so much more beneficial when a whole team is discussing aand looking at the data!
     
  18. tgi1515

    tgi1515 Comrade

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    Aug 16, 2008

    We started PLC's in our school district last year. Personally, I did not see any difference for the lower grades. However, the 3-5 grade students spent some time spread over 3-5 grades in classes focused on skill level teaching. We also tutored low-skilled 3rd graders.

    Our test scores were higher than they have ever been and plan to go after it again.

    I've heard both sides.... but as long as test scores are being affected, I think it's worth the try.:)
     
  19. Kindergarten31

    Kindergarten31 Cohort

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    Aug 16, 2008

    We also have PLC's for an hour a week. If we could talk about students and plans and share ideas, it would be OK, but we have a form to fill out each week that has the same thing -list your struggling students, what are you doing for them, concerns, etc. and our problem is that from Thursday to Thursday, we all pretty much do the same thing. For example, if Joey is struggling with letter recognition, I might say that I am giving him small group help, individual help, extra time on computer practice, whatever. Well, guess what? I am probably doing the same thing for Joey the following week.
    We have to turn the form into our principal, so we have become quite creative on how to rephrase things to sound different. I think it would be better to have PLC's once a month.
     
  20. alilisa

    alilisa Habitué

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    Aug 16, 2008

    We also have PLC's and we all feel the same way! The most exciting part of our PLC's is who is bringing treats and what they brought!! :) Kinda of sad when we get excited for treats!!
    We usually have good discussions but not necessarily about what we are supposed to be!! :whistle:
     
  21. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Aug 17, 2008

    This is the first year for the Douglas/Sarpy PLC. I'm curious to see how it goes. Personally, I think it will be more beuracratic than anything else.
     
  22. 5thgraderocks

    5thgraderocks Companion

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    Aug 22, 2008

    Our 'former' planning time is now 'collaboration' time. There isn't any difference for our kids because our team worked together prior to PLC. Now we're 'assigned' topics and need to submit our agenda and a summary of what we discussed. Since very few elementary teachers have enough prep time as is, needless to say, morale is low and still dropping!! Sadly, I see teachers who used to put in time after school high tailing it out the door as soon as the contract day ends.
     
  23. mmath1212

    mmath1212 Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2008

    I went to a PLC conference this summer and I'm really excited about the potential of PLCs in my school. I think the negative comments on here stem from schools that have used the PLC concept incorrectly. The goal isn't to make more work for teachers, but rather to help teachers and students achieve more in the classroom. Collaboration time should be built into the school day and should be focused with an agenda. The idea is to get teachers away from being lone rangers and work together as a team. Some of the things you work on are what are called SMART goals, using data to target teaching strategies, common assessments and formative assessments. I highly recommend that districts desiring to use PLC principles attend PLC conferences. You just can't implement this without the administration and teacher leaders truly understanding how PLCs function.
     
  24. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    Aug 23, 2008

    We are starting this also this year. I don't know too much yet, except we went to a district-wide meeting which was awful! Even our principal was telling us not to judge PLCs by the presenter we had. I'm just excited in the first place because I have a new team who I think will want to collaborate more in the first place.
     
  25. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Aug 23, 2008

    Ours are pretty good. We have weekly objectives, and do walk abouts to see who is implementing what. We read Classroom Instruction that Works as a faculty, and broke down each chapter each month also.
     
  26. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Aug 23, 2008

    I will be leading a PLC this year for Aides. I will have to make up the topics myself. I'm not sure my topics are good enough.
     
  27. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Aug 23, 2008

    I'm so glad you agree with me! There is a lot of negativity on here about PLC's, and I completely agree that those who think they are a waste of time probably had an administrator that didn't fully understand the concept. In our district, it's the teachers who are pushing for PLCs. I feel like I have a better handle of when my students are learning and when they need more help. We are all writing SMART goals this year also! Thanks for the support!
     
  28. mmath1212

    mmath1212 Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2008

    I was excited to see your reply too! I hate that so many people have a negative attitude about PLCs when in reality their district is probably not implementing them correctly. At the conference I went to the DuFour's addressed the fact that so many schools are calling themselves a PLC but in reality they are not one. There were a few posts that talk about a plc being once a week when in reality a PLC is not a meeting time, but a philosophy. Anyway, thanks for your support also:)
     
  29. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2008

    Exactly! We have a lot of teachers asking what it is, but it's not a thing, it's a mentality. It's a way of looking at things. I also went to one of their conferences (San Francisco) and they were an inspiration. So much of what they talk about is doable, and I think it's our responsibility to do it.
     

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