Getting Started in Your PLC

Meeting with your PLC
At the beginning of the year, which now seems so far away, we talked about PLCs meeting regularly. Specifically, we identified the second Wednesday of each month (knowing that you might choose to meet more frequently or at different times), early release days, and teacher work days as times for PLCs to meet, collaborate, and produce. Tomorrow is the second Wednesday in September, so PLCs, unless you have identified a different time, should be meeting this week.

Remember that you should participate in a PLC for every course you teach that is taught by another teacher on campus. Each course, and not each course area, should work as a PLC. Those who are involved in PLCs with teachers in other schools, esp. CTE and arts, meet according to Ms. Trueblood’s or Ms. Behan’s instructions.

Goal Setting
PLCs should be actively and collaboratively engaged in pursuit of a limited number of SMART goals, focused on student performance.

S = specific
M = measurable
A = attainable
R = relevant
T = time bound

If you haven’t set goals for student performance, take care of that this week. You will also want to enter your goals into My Learning Plan. I made a Jing video to show you how to do that. Here’s the link: PLC Proposal. Call me if you need any help, or invite me to attend your PLC meeting, so I can work with the group the process. It’s pretty simple, and it should help you keep an eye on the goals you want to achieve and your tools for measuring that achievement.

Where we’re going with this...
Our end goal is to make sure every student learns what they need to learn in our classes, no matter who the teacher is, no matter what the class is. Ideally, a common set of goals and collaboration toward the accomplishment of those goals, will teachers succeed with every student. Our tools for doing this: 1) some form of common assessment, 2) data from those assessments, 3) analysis of and response to that data.

So, for example, every biology teacher gives a common assessment at the end of week five. That assessment shows which students can explain how cells reproduce, can make safe decisions about lab work, and can explain how plants make food. They chart the data, reteach the kids who weren’t proficient on any of the established goals, modify instructional strategies, adapt, improvise, overcome…or something like that. The idea is that the data guides that collaboration because it shows PLCs and individual teachers the gaps that exist in the development of students’ learning.

This semester–in fact very soon–PLCs should be developing assessment tools to measure whether students can do what they need to do. These tools–call them benchmarks or common assessments–should tie in directly to the goals set by the PLC, and will, most likely, focus on the five essential skills you identified at the beginning of the year. For now, take one step at a time. Meet. Set your goals. Discuss the pursuit of those goals.

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