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NJASA SOUTHERN REGIONAL SUMMIT PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES PRESENTED BY: DR. JACK McCULLEY STERLING REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

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Title: NJASA SOUTHERN REGIONAL SUMMIT PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES PRESENTED BY: DR. JACK McCULLEY STERLING REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT


1
NJASA SOUTHERN REGIONAL SUMMITPROFESSIONAL
LEARNING COMMUNITIESPRESENTED BYDR. JACK
McCULLEYSTERLING REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
2
What is a Professional Learning Community?
We define a professional learning community as
educators committed to working collaboratively in
ongoing processes of collective inquiry and
action research to achieve better results for the
students they serve. Professional learning
communities operate under the assumption that the
key to improved learning for students is
continuous, job-embedded learning for educators.
(DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many, 2006).
3
Learning Community is Characterized by
  • Shared mission, vision, and values
  • Collaborative Teams.
  • Collective inquiry.
  • Action orientation/experimentation.
  • Commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Results orientation.

4
Shared Mission (Purpose), Vision (Clear
Direction), Values (Collective Commitments, and
Goals (Indicators, Timelines, and Targets) All
Focused on Student Learning
  • The very essence of a learning community is a
    focus on and a commitment to the learning
    of each student
  • Educators embrace high levels of learning for
    all students as both the reason the organization
    exists and the fundamental responsibility of
    those who work within it.
  • Members of a PLC create and are guided by a
    clear and compelling of what their schools and
    districts must become to help all students learn.
  • Collective commitments clarify what each member
    will do to contribute to creating such
    organizations.
  • Use results-oriented goals to mark their
    progress.

5
A Collaborative Culture With a Focus on Learning
  • Collaborative teams are the fundamental
    building blocks of the school community.
  • A PLC is composed of collaborative teams whose
    members work interdependently to achieve common
    goals.
  • Goals linked to the purpose of learning for all
  • All members are held mutually accountable.
  1. Collective Inquiry Into Best Practice and Current
    Reality
  • Educators in a PLC engage in collective inquiry
    into
  • Best Practices about teaching and learning
  • A candid clarification of their current practices
  • An honest assessment of their students current
    levels of learning.
  • Collective inquiry helps educators build shared
    knowledge.
  • Educators in a PLC have an acute sense of
    curiosity and openness to new possibilities.

6
Action Orientation Learning By Doing
  • Members of PLCs are action-oriented
  • They move quickly to turn aspirations into action
    and visions into reality.
  • They understand that the most powerful learning
    always occurs in a context of taking action.
  • They value engagement and experience as the most
    effective teachers.
  • Learning by doing develops a deeper and more
    profound knowledge and greater commitment than
    learning by reading, listening, planning, or
    thinking (Pfeffer Sutton, 2000).
  • Educators in PLCs recognize that until members
    of the organization do differently, there is no
    reason to anticipate different results.

7
A Commitment to Continuous Improvement
  • Work to eliminate the status quo
  • Constant searches for a better way to achieve
    goals and accomplish the purpose of the
    organization are inherent in the PLC culture.
  • Systematic processes engage each member of the
    school community in an ongoing cycle of
  • Gathering evidence of current levels of student
    learning.
  • Developing strategies and ideas to build on
    strengths and address weaknesses in that
    learning.
  • Implementing the strategies and ideas.
  • Analyzing the impact of the changes to discover
    what was effective and what was not.
  • Applying the knowledge in the next cycle of
    continuous improvement.

8
Results Orientation
  • Members of a PLC realize that all of their
    efforts in these areas
  • Focus on learning.
  • Collaborative teams.
  • Collective inquiry
  • Action orientation
  • Continuous improvement must be assessed on the
    basis of results rather than intentions
  • Initiatives are subjected to ongoing assessment
    on the basis of tangible results.

9
The Big Ideas That Drive Professional Learning
Communities
  • First, the fundamental purpose of the school is
    to ensure all students learn at high levels.
  • The future success of students will depend on
    how effective educators are in achieving that
    fundamental purpose.
  • Commitment to learning and schools must align
    all practices, procedures, and policies.
  • Members of a PLC work together.
  • Clarify exactly what each student must learn.
  • Monitor each students learning on a timely
    basis
  • Support for learning when they struggle
  • Extend and enrich learning when students have
    already mastered the intended outcomes.
  • If all students are to learn at high levels,
    the professional staff in the school community
    must also continue to learn.

10
The Big Ideas That Drive Professional Learning
Communities
  • Second, schools will not know whether or not
    all students are learning unless professional
    staff have a strong desire for evidence that
    students are acquiring the knowledge, skills, and
    dispositions deemed most essential to their
    success.
  • Schools must systematically monitor student
    learning on an ongoing basis.
  • Use evidence of results to respond immediately
    to students who experience difficulty.
  • To inform individual and collective practice.
  • To fuel continuous improvement.

11
Origin of Professional Learning Community
  • Professional
  • 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.
  • Knowledge base of education has expanded
    dramatically in the past 30 years.
  • In terms of research and in the articulation of
    recommended standards for the profession.
  • Professional staff in a professional learning
    community make these findings the basis of their
    collaborative investigation into how they can
    better achieve their goals.
  • Practice teaching and leading by constantly
    enhancing their skills and knowledge in the same
    way a doctor practices medicine or a lawyer
    practices law.

12
Origin of Professional Learning Community
  • Learning
  • The need for professional staff to shift from a
    focus on teaching to a focus on learning.
  • To move beyond the question Was it taught? to
    the far more relevant question, Was it learned?
  • Avocation for learning communities, not
    teaching communities.
  • The best way to improve student learning is to
    invest and improve the learning of the
    professional staff.
  • Learning suggests ongoing action and perpetual
    curiosity.
  • Educators must engage in the ongoing study and
    constant practice of their field.
  • If all students are to learn, those who educate
    them must be lifelong learners.

13
Origin of Professional Learning Community
  • Community
  • A group linked by common interests.
  • Common understandings.
  • Sense of identity
  • Belonging and involvement
  • Meaningful relationships
  • Communities form around common characteristics,
    experiences, practices
  • Members of the communitys beliefs are
    important enough to develop a kinship.

14
In a Professional Learning Community
  • Professional staff create an environment that
    fosters shared
  • Understanding
  • Sense of identity
  • High levels of involvement
  • Mutual cooperation
  • Collective responsibility
  • Emotional support
  • A strong sense of belonging
  • Collaborating together to achieve what they
    cannot accomplish alone

15
Cultural Shifts
  • Becoming a Professional
  • Learning Community
  • Robert Eaker

16
Culture is often defined asHow we do things
around here.Compared to more traditional
schools, how are things done in a professional
learning community?
17
Cultural Shift
  • Traditional Schools
  • Teacher isolation
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Collaboration

18
Cultural Shift Developing a Mission Statement
Student Learning
  • Traditional Schools
  • Generic.
  • Belief statements such as, We believe all kids
    can learn.
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Clarifies what students will learn.
  • Clarifies how we will know what students have
    learned.
  • Clarifies how the school will respond when
    students do not learn.

19
Cultural Shift Primary Focus
  • Traditional Schools
  • Primary Focus is on teaching.
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Primary focus is on learning.

20
Cultural Shift - Curriculum
  • Traditional Schools
  • Each teacher independently decides what to teach.
  • Curriculum overloaded.
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Collaboratively agreed upon curriculum that focus
    on what students are expected to learn.
  • Reduced content meaningful content taught at
    greater depth.
  • Collaboratively developed assessment.
  • A collaboratively developed plan for responding
    to students who are not learning.

21
Cultural Shift - Decisions
  • Traditional Schools
  • Decisions about improvement strategies are made
    by averaging opinions.
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Decisions are research-based with collaborative
    teams of teachers seeking out best practices.

22
Cultural Shift - Validation
  • Traditional Schools
  • Effectiveness of improvement strategies are
    externally validated. Teachers rely on others
    outside the school regarding what works.
  • Emphasis is given to how teachers liked various
    approaches.
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Approaches are internally validated. Teams of
    teachers try various approaches and collaborate
    about how the approaches impacted student
    learning.
  • Effects on student learning as the primary basis
    for assessing various improvement strategies.
    Collaboratively developed assessment.

23
Cultural Shift - Leadership
Traditional Schools Administrators are viewed as
being in leadership positions while teachers are
viewed as implementers or followers.
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Administrators are viewed as leaders of leaders.
    Teachers are viewed as transformational leaders.

24
Cultural Shift Improvement Plans
  • Traditional Schools
  • School improvement plans focus on a wide variety
    of things.
  • Often, the goal is to get the plan turned in.
    Then, the plan is ignored.
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • School improvement plans focus on a few,
    important goals that will impact student
    learning.
  • The school improvement plan is the vehicle for
    organized, sustained school improvement.

25
Cultural Shift - Recognition
  • Traditional Schools
  • Celebration is infrequent and when recognizing
    teachers almost always focuses on groups.
  • Celebration and recognition occurs when students
    reach an arbitrary standard.
  • Recognition is limited to few.
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Celebration is frequent and singles out
    individuals as well as groups.
  • In addition to celebration and recognition when a
    standard is met, celebrations recognized
    improvement
  • The school works hard to create winners and
    celebrate their success.
  • Celebrations are linked to the vision and values
    of the school and improved student
    achievementRenaissance Program

26
Cultural Shift New Initiatives
  • Traditional Schools
  • Improvement efforts frequently shift as new fads
    or trends come along.
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • The school is committed to staying the course
    in the attainment of the school vision. New
    initiatives are only implemented if it is
    determined that the change will help the school
    achieve its vision of the future.

27
Cultural Educational Shifts
  • Becoming a Professional Learning Community
  • Sterling High School
  • Somerdale, NJ

28
WHERE WE STARTED
29
PLC At Sterling
  • Grew out of professional development on
    alternative assessment
  • Teachers sent to Adlai Stevenson High School in
    Chicago to view PLC process of common planning
    and assessment
  • Teachers became interested in developing common
    goals and assessments for each course
  • Needed common planning time for successful
    implementation
  • PLC was initiated to facilitate this goal and to
    focus instruction on student learning
  • Two morning in-service days / month are set aside
    for PLC time

30
MISSION OF PLC
  • The three essential questions of the PLC
    initiative are
  • What do we expect students to learn?
  • How will we know that students have learned?
  • How will we respond to students who are not
    learning

31
What do we want students to learn?
  • State Standards
  • Established Curriculum Outlines
  • Strengths and Weaknesses of Students
  • Expectations of the community
  • Essential vs. Inessential Content
  • Establish specific essential outcomes per unit
  • Development of mandatory and elective activities

32
How do we know if they have learned it?
  • Common Assessments for each course at all levels
  • Establish specific standards of performance,
    targets or benchmarks for each test to indicate
    student mastery of intended outcomes
  • Clarify criteria by which work is judged
    (rubrics)
  • Analyze results

33
How will we respond when students do not learn?
  • Analyze results of assessment
  • Utilize collaboration and best practices to
    identify and implement improvement strategies
  • Ensure that all students who need it receive
    additional time and support for learning
  • Re-assess to determine mastery

34
PLC FOCUS ON LEARNING
Traditional Schools PLC
Each teacher decides what to teach and test Instruction and testing becomes a collaborative effort
Curriculum is overloaded Focus is on essential questions with content taught in greater depth
Effectiveness of instruction is externally validatedstandardized testing, etc. Effectiveness is internally validated by teachers using various strategies
Emphasis is placed on how teachers like various approaches and topics Improvement strategies are assessed based state local standards and student learning
35
WHERE WE ARE NOW
  • CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL SHIFT

36
PLC --Cultural Shift
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Collaboration


37
Cultural Shift Primary Focus
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Primary focus is on learning.

38
Cultural Shift - Decisions
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Decisions are research-based with collaborative
    teams of teachers seeking out best practices.

39
Cultural Shift - Validation
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Approaches are internally validated. Teams of
    teachers try various approaches and collaborate
    about how the approaches impacted student
    learning.
  • Effects on student learning as the primary basis
    for assessing various improvement strategies.
    Collaboratively developed assessment.

40
Cultural Shift - Recognition
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Celebration is frequent and singles out
    individuals as well as groups.
  • In addition to celebration and recognition when a
    standard is met, celebrations recognized
    improvement
  • The school works hard to create winners and
    celebrate their success.
  • Celebrations are linked to the vision and values
    of the school and improved student
    achievementRenaissance Program

41
Cultural Shift New Initiatives
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • The school is committed to staying the course
    in the attainment of the school vision. New
    initiatives are only implemented if it is
    determined that the change will help the school
    achieve its vision of the future.

42
Educational ShiftCurricular Focus in a Learning
Community
  • Until a school has clarifies what students should
    know and be able to do, and the skills and
    dispositions they should acquire as a result of
    schooling, the school cannot function as a
    learning community
  • There are four major assumptions for curricular
    development

43
Educational Shift Teacher should work
collaboratively to design a research-based
curriculum
  • If a curriculum is overloaded --Pay attention to
    everything it cannot have the necessary focus
    on results
  • Teachers need to be informed about initiatives
    and search for the right combination of theory
    and practice for their students and school at a
    particular time
  • Pooling uninformed opinions just results in
    making uninformed decisions
  • Teachers should be familiar with what is known
    about best practices and utilize and adapt those
    findings to the culture of each individual school
    and student population

44
Educational ShiftThe curriculum should clarify
the specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions
that students should acquire as a result of their
schooling.
  • Collaboratively agreed upon curriculum focuses on
    essential and significant learning topics.
  • Organized abandonmentdeciding what not to
    teach. Reduced content allows meaningful content
    to be taught at greater depth
  • Develop a process of identifying significant
    content, eliminating non-essential material.
    Curriculum is a mile long and an inch deep.
  • Analyze each unit what does every student need
    to know, what information would benefit students
    if there were time, what is insignificant enough
    to eliminate?

45
Educational ShiftThe curriculum process should
allow teachers to monitor student achievement at
the classroom level
  • What do we want students to do as a result of
    this unit?
  • Not students will understand a topic, but what
    will they do to demonstrate that understanding
  • What methods and material will we use to teach
    the lesson? (Science department required
    activities, elective activities)
  • How will we know whether students have achieved
    the intended outcomes? Observation, written
    tests, questioning, review of homework student
    performance projects, etc.

46
Educational ShiftCurriculum and Assessment
Process should foster continuous improvement
  • Culmination of the three previous sections. An
    effective learning community will
  • Ensure that a teachers daily instruction is
    consistent with the essential learning goals
    identified through the curriculum process
  • Insist that students are asked to learn content
    that has been chosen based on essential outcomes
    rather than on the idiosyncrasies of an
    individual teacher
  • Establish the expectation that each instructional
    unit will provide students the opportunity to
    practice the kinds of skill they will be asked to
    demonstrate during assessment
  • Ensure that assessments are aligned with
    curriculum and instruction

47
WHERE WE ARE HEADED
48
Year 1 2005-2006
  • Define Vision and Mission for each department
  • Develop departmental goals
  • Departments begin working toward development of
    common curriculum and assessment
  • Academic departmental folders were established on
    the S-drive for departmental work
  • Curriculum Committee of PLC leaders was
    established to monitor progress, concerns, etc.
  • Curriculum Committee felt the need for framework
    or structure in which the departments could work

49
Year 2 2006-2007
  • Framework was developed so that every department
    needed to re-align each individual curriculum
    relative to the standards and re-structure if
    necessary
  • Led to an examination of each individual
    curriculum relative to the NJ State
    StandardsScience department restructured the
    curriculum using this data
  • Assessments in Science, Social Studies and World
    Language were developed to reflect NJCCCS and
    generate data on student achievement relative to
    the standards
  • Scoring and dissemination of assessment data took
    place
  • Common Final Examinations were developed and
    placed in shared departmental folders
  • Goals for 2007-2008 were established

50
Year 32007-2008
  • Align all curriculum to the state standards
  • Begin to develop a working curriculum for each
    course
  • Identify essential topics
  • Develop mandatory and optional activities for
    each unit
  • Develop common unit assessments
  • Use data to target areas of weakness and develop
    strategies for improvement

51
Year 42008-2009
  • Continue to focus on data driven information
    regarding student learning
  • Teachers work in groups to determine essential
    topics for each course aligned to the State
    Standards
  • Topics will form the basis of unit assessments
    that will be given at all levels
  • Remediation should be targeted to specific
    deficiencies
  • Data should foster discussion regarding teaching
    and assessment techniques to improve student
    learning
  • Formative assessments will be developed to assess
    student learning and benchmark proficiencies

52
2009-2010 and Beyond
  • Continue to clarify essential outcomes for each
    course
  • Develop formative assessments that can serve to
    assess student proficiencies
  • Collect and analyze feedback on formative
    assessments to continually assess student
    performance
  • Develop activities ( required and optional) that
    address the essential activity and remediate any
    misunderstandings or problems
  • Continue to develop and refine common unit
    assessments
  • Establish a cyclical process of data driven,
    research based responses to student achievement
  • Recognize and celebrate student teacher
    successes
  • Recognize that PLC is a constant work in
    progress

53
PLC THE SCIENCE MODEL
  • Chemistry Essential Questions
  • Chemistry Working Curriculum
  • Chemistry Unit Test Data Analysis

54
PLC AND EDUCATIONAL CHANGE
  • In times of drastic change, it is the learners
    who inherit the future.
  • The learned usually find themselves beautifully
    equipped to live in a world that no longer
    exists.
  • Eric Hoffer, 1972

55
QA
  • Thank You
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