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Written by: Katie Hubbard, Program Director, M.A. in Literacy Education 

Many schools use Professional Learning Communities, PLCs, as their vehicle to talk about data, focus on student learning, and focus on results. In order for these things to successfully take place, a collaborative culture must be present. Creating a collaborative culture can be difficult for some as this requires trust. Trust in your colleagues and trust in your administrator(s). Trust that you can better each and every student by openly sharing your data, your successes, and your failures. As a new school year commences, I challenge you to stop and ask yourself, “Is it time to refresh my PLC?” Take a moment to reflect on the three big ideas of PLCs:

  • Focus on Learning
    • You must accept high levels of learning for ALL students as the fundamental purpose of the school and be willing to examine all practices in light of their impact on learning.
  • Collaborative Culture
    • “We can achieve our fundamental purpose of high levels of learning for all students only if we work together. We cultivate a collaborative culture through the development of high-performing teams!” – DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work (2008)
  • Focus on Results
    • “We assess our effectiveness on the basis of results rather than intentions. Individuals, teams, schools, and districts seek relevant data and information and use that information to promote continuous improvement.” – DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work (2008)

As you reflect on the three big ideas, I also welcome you to think about how you focus on student outcomes. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do we know when students have learned?
  • How do we respond when they don’t?
  • How do we respond when they’ve already learned it?

In the end, it is the decisions you make and the actions you take that impact student learning and outcomes. Why not take a moment to step back and refresh?

All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and somebody who believes in them.
– Magic Johnson