e-book Getting Started: Reculturing Schools to Become Professional Learning Communities (Solutions)

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Professionals, in his view, are free to make all their decisions based on their "own professional experience and intellectual discretion. Every teacher should be able to ignore the consistent research findings over 35 years on the benefits of students having access to a guaranteed and viable curriculum regardless of who the teacher is, of the link between collaborative school cultures and high student achievement, of the importance of effective formative assessments in the teaching and learning process, of systematic interventions that provide students with additional time and support for learning, etc.

The respondent defines being a professional as being able to disregard all research, all evidence, and all other points of view than his own. I could not disagree more.

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A "professional" is someone with expertise in a specialized field, an individual who has not only pursued advanced training to enter the field, but who is also expected to remain current in its evolving knowledge base. My son took several AP courses in high school.

These courses had prescribed curricula and high stakes comprehensive examinations. I was grateful that his teachers worked together collaboratively to become student of their AP curriculum, to discuss how to pace it, to study released sets of AP exams, to create a series of formative assessments based on the AP assessments to monitor student learning and to help students become familiar with the AP format, to explore different ways to teach key concepts, and to help students review and prepare for the exam.

A teacher who consistently helped students achieve at the highest levels on the challenging AP exams was willing to share strategies, methods, and ideas with colleagues because each teacher was interested in and supportive of the learning of all the students in the course, not merely those assigned to their classrooms. I believe they personified professionals.

Getting Started : Reculturing Schools to Become Professional Learning Communities

Recently, a comprehensive study established that performing an angioplasty, a painful and potentially fatal operation, was no more effective in preventing heart attacks than medication and exercise. That finding will have an enormous impact on the medical field, and the number of angioplasties performed in this country will plummet. Professionals do not disregard evidence or assume the knowledge they have when they enter the field will be sufficient for an entire career.

They are willing to adjust their practice on the basis of evidence. That is what we advocate for educators. That they come together to develop strategies for gathering evidence that their students are learning the things that the teachers have agreed are most essential, they discuss the evidence, and use it to inform and shape their practice.

Of course, this is a feckless activity to one who believes every teacher is king of his kingdom, free to follow his personal discretion and unique vision. I have written 8 books and 50 articles. Not once I have ever suggested that all teachers be required to teach the same way.

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I have seen some brilliant teachers get wonderful results with direct instruction. I have seen others get equally terrific results with cooperative learning. Those teachers have unique styles, personalities, and philosophies, but they were also open to the possibility that someone, somewhere might teach a concept better than they did, and they were willing, even eager, to learn from one another.

They welcomed the process that enabled them to do so. They valued the time they were given to collaborate and sought more rather than less time to work with colleagues. Why is it then that groups that have specifically been established to support and enhance the teaching profession have insisted that teachers, as a matter of right, should be working in professional learning communities?

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Why is it that the American Federation of Teachers has called for schools to engage teachers in a continuous process of individual and collective examination and improvement of practice as the best method of improving schools? There is simply no evidence that encouraging each teacher to work in isolation in autonomous classrooms to teach his or her own curriculum according to his or her own idiosyncratic philosophy, vision, and discretion creates a school culture that is beneficial to either students or teachers.

Those who advocate such a position should do more than attack the integrity of proponents of PLCs. They should present compelling evidence that their ideas lead to better teaching and learning. Network with other principals in similar settings: Please explore the listings under Evidence of Effectiveness and feel free to contact the principals of those schools.

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We also invite them and other blog readers to write in and offer insights, advice and support as you learn about and implement PLC practices in school setting. Rick and Becky. My particular department uses collaboration time every Wednesday morning. Having this time has allowed us to divide our classes and have multiple teachers teaching the same classes. Collaboration means we have two teachers teaching most classes: planning together, looking at tests, talking about what is working, coming up with strategies for discipline and designing lessons.

It has made us more effective which our standardized test scores are reflecting , has diminished teacher burnout and frustration, and really made our department a truly cohesive unit.

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  • The feelings of success and the re-arousal of my "teaching fire" are priceless. I'll never go back to solitude! Additionally, I have come to suspect those who resist collaboration. All research indicates it is the way to go, and the positive anecdotal records of those teachers who are allowed time to collaborate are very telling.

    Why would anone resist collaboration? Hi Giskinm. It presents real-world problems that schools face, strategies for overcoming those problems, the research base to help make the case for the strategies, guiding questions a staff could address, and a continuum to assess your schools progress.

    It could be used by a single school or by an entire district. Good luck as you begin this important work. Rick DuFour. Where does one begin to establish a working model for a plc? To what could an administrator turn as a guide? I work in a school of over students in a district with 9 elementary schools, 2 high and 2 middle schools.

    How best to begin? Breaking down the walls of isolation often leaves in the aftermath the rubble of past practice, the seeds for balkanization, the eggs of scrambled teaching, the spores of discompassionate purpose. DuFour, R.

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    • Learning by doing: A handbook for professional learning communities at work 2nd ed. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree. The collaborative administrator: Working together as a professional learning community. Professional Learning Communities address the following key questions that are associated with learning:.

      Eaker, R. Getting started: Reculturing schools to become professional learning communities. Make time for collaboration. Professional learning communities at work: Best practices for enhancing student achievement. Camden County keeps kids first in education.

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      Practical steps for Professional Learning Communities - W. Richard Smith

      How will we know when students have learned?