PLCs in Dryden

Because professional development should be integrated, sustained, differentiated and job-embedded. 

Because nothing in school matters more for learning
than great teaching. 


FOUR CRITICAL QUESTIONS

PLCs are framed by four questions and how they reflect our fundamental purpose. Everything we do will fall under one of these questions.

1. What is it that we want all students to know?

This is the viable and guaranteed curriculum for all students. We want to know the precise knowledge and skills that have endurance, leverage and are essential for preparing students for readiness at the next level. Many terms serve as pseudonyms for the essential knowledge and skills: power standards, priority standards, essential learnings, essential questions, outcomes are a few common terms. These outcomes will be negotiated in small and large teams both vertically and horizontally over time. They are the most essential knowledge and skills our students need to know to be successful in life, at the next level, and on state assessments.

2. How will we know they have learned it?

We will know if they have learned the essential learnings through common formative assessments that give teachers early information about student learning. The collaborative examination of the results provides opportunities for teachers to study instruction, make adjustments for students, and align curriculum.

3. How will we respond if they haven't learned it?

4. How will we respond if they already know it?

By answering questions one and two we know who knows the curriculum and who doesn't. How will we respond to that information? If we are all about learning, if we have decided our students really need to know this, we can't ignore the information we have gathered. These are the questions to which teams and schools will respond with a pyramid of interventions for students not making it or providing enrichment for students who have it already (RTI- Response to Intervention is a building name for this, differentiation is a classroom name for this). When this is happening for students it will look different in every building, team and classroom.

This is important work and it helps us to build our professional capacity. PLCs are about empowering us to take action for student learning.

WHAT DOES A PLC DO?

There is not one right way for a PLC to operate, but there are some common features that distinguish PLC work from other types of professional collaboration.

PLC meetings differ from others in that they are learner centered, data driven, and often highly structured. Facilitators might use agendas, note-taking forms, norms and protocols, as well as a variety of questioning, paraphrasing and reflecting strategies to keep the team moving towards its agreed upon goals. In Dryden, the district will support department chairs and other teacher leaders in developing their facilitation skills.

As we set off on this transformation of professional learning, it is vital that we work on the process as much as the product. While several teams in the district already display learner-centered collaboration, for many of us learning new ways to work together, to learn together, and to make our practice public through collegial inquiry will be challenging and possibly scary. Developing new collaborative processes, mindsets and habits will take time, and we are committed to supporting teachers through this transition. We encourage everyone to be patient, courageous, supportive, and mindful of the complexity of change.

Student test scores will come up, as will teachers’ APPR score. But these are measurements, signifiers, and not our ultimate ends. As we balance student achievement with youth development, let’s remember a few of the things Dryden teachers said they want for their students:

  • Develop a sense of self-respect and confidence in their abilities.

  • Develop enthusiasm and a love for learning.  Establish positive relationships with peers and adults.

  • I want kids to accept others and recognize everyone has value. I want them to smile at others and have confidence in their self and pride in their accomplishments.

  • I want my students to be compassionate caring independent young individuals.

  • I want my students to be proud for trying/experimenting with new topics/experiences. I want them to say they learned tons and had a good time at the same time.

  • I want my students to come away from this school year realizing that creativity is an important and relevant skill for the 21st century.

 Departmental PLCs 

When the department or grade level team is working on our four questions, it is acting as a PLC.

When it’s action-oriented, data-based, collegial and reflective, it is acting as a PLC.

The chair is the de facto facilitator, although any member of the department may take the lead at different times.

Every departmental has regularly scheduled meetings, some of which may be needed for non-PLC work. Teams may from time to time wish to get substitute teachers for either a half or full release day.

  Topical PLCs

Do you have an inspiration or a burning question?
Do you have some colleagues who share it?

Here’s how you form a topical PLC:
1. Develop your topic and your team.
2. Complete the Topical PLC Proposal form on MLP.

PLC members will receive PD hours for their time, and the facilitator may get paid for preparation time through the Dryden Teacher Center.

Topical PLCs can meet during or after school, and can also take release days.

  Release Days

Does your team need more time to work? You can arrange for half-day or whole-day substitute teachers to release team members from teaching so you can collaborate.

1. Check the PLC Calendar on Dryden Online
2. Complete the PLC Day Request on MLP

Each department or grade level should take at least 2 half days and as many as 4 whole days.

To begin the year, topical PLCs are limited to a half day because priority is given to departmental PLCs. If possible, more release days may be made available to topical PLCs after February 1st.


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