What is a PLC Anyway?
A Professional Learning Community (PLC) is an engine that drives school improvement and builds professional knowledge. They serve as a powerful form of job embedded professional development as it enables members to work collaboratively to clarify essential learning, identify student-learning needs based on evidence, and make judgments about the effectiveness of different instructional practices on the basis of that evidence.
The ultimate goal of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) can be summed up in three words: improved student achievement. Although the term has grown to encompass a wide variety of concepts and practices, a professional learning community is always a group of people who are motivated by a vision of learning and who support one another toward that end. A PLC:
- Represents a collective effort to enhance student learning
- Promotes and sustains the learning of all professionals in the school
- Builds knowledge through inquiry
- Analyses and uses data for reflection and improvement
(Bolam et al., 2005)
As a district we are committed to working together to achieve our collective purpose of learning for all students. Through PLCs we are cultivating a collaborative culture of learning and on holding ourselves accountable for the kinds of results that fuel continued improvements.
Various researchers agree that PLCs are important for improved student achievement.
“Achieving school improvement involves continual learning groups focused on explicit goals for student learning.” (Linda Darling-Hammond)
“In successful schools, teachers form professional learning communities that focus on student work through assessment.” (Michael Fullen)
“Improved student learning and teaching results when teachers collaboratively focus on achievement and assessment, questioning practice and supporting professional growth.” (Dennis Sparks)
Who is involved?
A PLC involves the whole school staff, including the teachers, educational assistants, principals and vice-principals who are committed to learning and building knowledge.
What happens in a PLC meeting?
PLCs engage in the process of inquiry and learning focused on improving student achievement. Through evidence informed conversations, members identify the strengths and needs of a group of students and determine the knowledge and skills required for both the teachers and students to close the achievement gap.
When do PLCS happen?
PLC meetings occur regularly, and include processes for reviewing current student information and progress, setting goals, determining whether identified actions and interventions are making a difference, studying and discussing new ideas and strategies and identifying other professional learning needed to support continued success.
PLCs focus on changing practice to improve student learning.