• The Vision of High Performing Professional Learning Community Teams

    The Professional Learning Community process is built on the foundation of four critical questions:

    • What do we want students to learn?
    • How will we know they’ve learned it?
    • How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?
    • How will we support a student who has already learned it?

    The Professional Learning Community process is supported by three sets of core practices that work together throughout the year. These practices start with:  

    • Learning as our fundamental purpose;
    • Building a collaborative culture; and
    • A focus on results. 

    We use the term “practices” because, as in other professions like medicine, law, engineering, and architecture, there are principled ways of doing the work that can be identified, learned, and continually improved over time. These practices are now being used to support the development of a common vision of high quality professional learning community teams so that teaching and learning can improve for all students. 

    Learning As Our Fundamental Purpose

    We acknowledge that the fundamental purpose of our school is to help each student achieve high levels of learning, and therefore we are willing to examine all of our practices in light of their impact on learning. What would you experience or see in teams where learning is the fundamental focus?

    • Intentional practices that support the team developing understandings of each of their student’s strengths, weaknesses, needs
    • Colleagues working to build shared knowledge regarding standards, instructional practices, and expectations for the next course or grade level.  
    • Clarity regarding what all students must know and be able to do as a result of each unit of instruction and at the end of each course or grade level.
    • Clarity regarding the criteria and descriptive language in common rubrics by which all team members will judge the quality of student products and performances, and practice applying those criteria until all team members can do so consistently.
    • A system of interventions, accelerations, and enrichment that guarantees each student will receive additional time and support if he or she experiences difficulty.
    • The requirement, rather than invitation, for students to devote extra time and receive extra support until they are successful.
    • Developed strategies to extend and enrich the learning of students who have mastered the essential knowledge and skills.
    • Continual work together to identify policies and procedures that encourage learning in areas such as homework, grading, school climate, and discipline.


    Building a Collaborative Culture

    We are committed to working together to achieve our collective purpose of learning for all students.  We cultivate a collaborative culture through the development of high-performing teams. What would you experience or see in teams where building a collaborative culture is the fundamental focus?

    • Organized into collaborative teams in which members work together interdependently to achieve common goals.
    • Developed and adhere to team norms, roles, and responsibilities, and regularly reflect on how well they’re doing.
    • The belief that every student can achieve pathway outcomes and hold selves and each other accountable for every student’s success.
    • Dedicated team time to engage in collective inquiry on questions specifically linked to gains in student achievement.
    • Team members observing each other’s teaching, share lessons and resources, and give and receive feedback that result from our inquiry.  
    • Consistently use a process and a set of protocols to implement and monitor action items generated by our team.
    • The generation and submission of products which result from its work on the critical questions related to student learning.


    A Focus on Results

    We assess our effectiveness on the basis of results rather than intentions.  Individuals, teams, and schools seek relevant data and information and use that information to promote continuous improvement. What would you experience or see happening in teams where a focus on results is the fundamental focus?

    • Identified SMART goal(s) that complement the school goals.
    • Use of common formative assessments to (a) identify students who need additional time and support; (b) discover strengths and weaknesses in our teaching; and (c) help measure our team’s progress toward its goals.
    • Teams regularly share and analyze by-student, by-standard data from common assessments, disaggregated by teacher, and use that data to inform instruction, assessment, and intervention.
    • Evidence of team responses to findings from formative assessments, including improvements in classroom interventions and improvements in instructional practice.
    • Access for each teacher on the team to information regarding the performance of his or her students—individually and by sub-group—on common formative assessments and common summative assessments.
    • Analysis of the student data by race/ethnicity, gender, class, and English language proficiency.
    • For each of the goals identified for students, the team develops a response to the question, “How do we know if each student is achieving this goal?”
    • Evidence of student growth and achievement as measured by common formative assessments, common summative assessments, state assessments (M-Step, SAT-in subject areas that apply), and norm referenced assessments (NWEA-MAP: reading, math, and science).


    A Focus on Creating an Equitable Learning Environment

    What would you experience / what would you see in teams where creating an equitable learning environment is the fundamental focus?

    • Common lesson plans identify and incorporate equitable teaching practices. (i.e. Instruction is intentionally differentiated to address a continuum of student learning pace, interests, funds of knowledge, and assets.) 
    • Activities and projects incorporate equitable teaching practices.
    • Instruction connected to students’ lived community and cultural experiences.
    • When appropriate, curricular materials and resources are chosen that represent a broad diversity of experiences, perspectives, and groups to deliver content. 
    • Research together, and experiment with, new approaches to classroom management and instructional delivery that honor the diversity of students’ background and experience.
    • Develop activities and classroom protocols that use Restorative Practices as a means of giving students voice and helping them learn to process.
    • Assessments planned to check for understanding during instruction by asking open-ended, higher order thinking questions (i.e. - Socratic circles, student-facilitated discussions, restorative circles). 
    • Teachers share how they utilize and individualize formative feedback with students during instruction to guide and enhance learning. 
    • Instructional practices and methods reduce barriers to learning such that opportunities to learn are high for all students. Possible strategies include accommodations and supports that are anticipated at the PLC level, though implemented at the classroom-level. 
    • Planning is intentionally balanced between the academic talk of students and the teacher such that
      • Students are engaging in discourse related to social issues and change. 
      • Students are questioning and challenging their own thinking. 
      • Students are making connections between classroom instruction and their own experiences.