Professional Learning Communities

8. Professional Practice Criteria – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

The importance of program standard 8 became more apparent and applicable once I started student teaching, as well as in my course work for EDU6134 Professional Issues/Abuse. This standard addresses the need for teachers to work together in order to positively impact the learning that occurs in the classroom. While there are many different ways in which teachers can collaborate, the model I am most familiar with is the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) model, since my school places an emphasis on PLCs. Collaboration is not only useful in helping to combat the feelings of isolation that many first year teachers face, but it allows teachers to work together to “define essential curriculum, develop common assessments, and analyze student data.” (Graham & Ferriter, 2008). Furthermore, research has shown that there is a correlation between higher levels of student achievement and teacher collaboration (DuFour, 2011).

As discussed above, my current school requires that teacher participate in PLCs. Recently we have been working on creating common assessments, which required us to first decide which reading, writing, and math standards were the most critical; essentially, the three standards in each discipline that we want all second grade students to be able to

IMG_2747

Figure 1. Unpacking the reading standards.

master by the end of the academic year. We each selected our priority standards and discussed them during one of our PLC meetings, and then started unpacking the standards. Figure 1 shows the chart we are using to help us organize our ideas. In addition to indicating the standard, we have determined the depth of knowledge that students must have, the prerequisite skills that need to be taught, the time of year we plan to teach the standard, details about the common assessment we will form, and note further extension standards. The second grade team recently finished forming the common assessment for reading standard RI.1 and we will be administering it this upcoming week. During our next PLC meeting, we will bring our assessments and begin to go over them as a group.

Prior to this, I did not have any experience in teacher collaboration, so I didn’t understand how crucial it is. Professional Learning Communities are incredibly useful because they allow teachers to work together in planning curriculum, developing assessments, and analyzing data, which ultimately improves student learning in the classroom. As I begin looking for a teaching position, I will make an effort to find schools that understand the importance of PLCs and create opportunities for teachers to engage in meaningful collaboration. Through collaboration, I can become a better, more reflective teacher and help my students make greater strides in their achievements.

References:

DuFour, R. (2011). Work together but only if you want to. Kappan Magazine, 92(5), 57-61. Retrieved from: bbweb03.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1092902-dt-content-rid-2306678_1/courses/XLST_B8_201561/DuFour 2011(1).pdf

Graham, P., & Ferriter, B. (2008). One step at a time. National Staff Development Council, 29(3), 35-39. Retrieved from: esc16.net/users/0020/2015%20Summit/One%20Step%20at%20a%20Time.pdf

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