Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
August 25, 2014
It is no secret that great teachers equal a great education for all our students. This is probably the most accepted research of public education as it is a relationship driven institution where professionals connect with students and families to ensure a lifetime of success. The Helena community knows this and has committed to recruiting and retaining the highest quality educators. I have raved about the quality of our staff many times and in fact will continue to do so every chance I can. The question we need to ask, or the challenge we have is, now that we have the best how can we continue to ensure our students capitalize on this expertise?
For the past two years our District has been working on implementing the Professional Learning Community (PLC) strategies. This is defined as a group of like-minded professionals that through collaboration focus on student learning. They base their discussions and directions on four fundamental questions:
- What do we want our children to learn?
- How do we know they are learning?
- What do we do when they are not learning?
- What do we do when they have mastered the skills?
As simplistic as these questions may seem, the answers will create a focus on each child. As a parent you can be assured that the educational team at your child’s school will be specifically asking these questions about each student. Recently I was reading an article about a school district in Idaho that explained the PLCs in a different way:
When teachers return in the fall, the road map is in place and the guesswork has been eliminated. Everyone knows where we are, where we want to go, how we will get there, and how we will know when we are there. Our mission—to make every student college, career, and life ready—is our constant compass. Our instruction and assessments trump state and national assessments. We are in control. We are the professionals. Mary Ann Ranells, PhD, “A Team within a Team”
As I read what other Districts are doing and the success they are achieving, it provided confidence in our efforts to reach students through the PLC strategy. This is neither a fad, nor something new, but rather a research proven approach to meet our students’ needs. PLCs are not driven from an outside entity, but rather they empower the District to implement processes defined by our culture. This is so powerful it is worth repeating “Our mission - to make every student college, career, and life ready—is our constant compass. Our instruction and assessments trump state and national assessments. We are in control. We are the professionals.”
We are very excited that school starts this week. The hard work and challenges are worth it as each child takes the steps necessary to graduate. We look forward to partnering with our parents and community to have a successful year and before we know it another graduating class will be walking across the stage.
Kent Kultgen, Ed.D.