WSFCS Professional Learning Teams: Why we do it!
As a district, the foundational belief supporting the work of Professional Learning Teams (PLT) is that we can improve our schools though collaborative teams focused on student learning. We know it works. The preponderance of evidence can be found in the research and articles listed in the references as well in our own schools. Working together to set goals, build shared knowledge around the best way to achieve those goals, and meet the needs of clients is exactly what professionals in any field are expected to do, whether it is curing the patient, winning the lawsuit, or helping all students learn (Dufour, 2011). Members of a professional learning community are expected to work and learn together as professionals. We have high expectations of ourselves and each other in our pursuit to improve learning for all students.
In the literature and across the country the term “professional learning communities” has been used to describe almost any type of meeting or grouping of teachers who are gathered together. Some teams engage in superficial activities that will have little effect on student achievement (Fullan, 2015). WS/FCS PLTs are a specific model based primarily on the work of Richard Dufour, Shirley Hord and others. The purpose, outcomes, and processes of this model are all focused on student learning. PLTs are an opportunity to engage with colleagues in collaborative teams to focus on ensuring that all students learn (Dufour, Eaker, & Many, 2006). This work is often related to the school improvement goals of the school. Our core value of Integrity means we focus on the work that gets results for our students. We do what we say we will do: ensure all students learn.
Our core value of being Student-Centered underscores the purpose of our learning teams. We uphold our value of Collaboration by working together to examine what we want students to know, understand, and do; use research/evidenced -based instructional strategies for instruction; create or screen assessments and assignments aligned to those essential learnings; analyze the resulting data to determine if the students learned using those strategies; and develop, implement, and monitor action plans to improve student learning. The ongoing process of this work creates a cycle of continuous instructional improvement (Fullan & Dufour, 2013).
The cycle of this work is what effective teachers do on a daily basis. What a privilege to have this opportunity to work and grow with colleagues to ensure learning for all students.