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Critical Features of a PLC

Critical Features of a PLC


In this lesson, students evaluate the critical features of a PLC.

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Hello there, and thank you so much for joining me today as we take a closer look at the critical features of a PLC. We will review some of the non-negotiable features of every PLC according to the top researchers in the field. Let's get started.

Take any organization or body that is attempting to achieve something or grow, and you will find that they need to possess certain features. Whether it's a school, business, athletic team, or politician, there are certain features that are crucial. Of course, there's always room for debate as to which are more important. However, in order to succeed, there needs to be some focus.

I was reminded of this as my son prepares to take his driver's ed test. In order to be the safest driver possible, he needs to be focused on what's important. I am willing to bet if I asked you what three crucial features he should focus on are, you would probably say something like wear a seat belt, don't get distracted, and obey the traffic laws. In this lesson, you will learn what your focus should be when creating a PLC.

The work of Van Clay, Soldwedel, and Many make it clear that there are certain features PLCs must have in order to be aligned to the district vision, mission, and goals in order to be effective. Let's outline three of the most crucial ones. First, a focus on learning. Your PLC must provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum. This means every student has equitable access to a curriculum that is aligned to their grade level standards. Also they must have access to the instruction and tools that are needed to engage with and learn from that curriculum.

Next, a comprehensive assessment system, which includes a balance of formative and summative assessments. The purpose of any assessment tool should be established and understood by all stakeholders. For example, some may be used to inform instruction and others may be to measure student growth and mastery. Whatever the case, you will want to be clear and transparent.

Response To Intervention, or RTI as it is often referred to, is a systematic approach to providing interventions to close achievement gaps. The process includes screening, providing interventions with research based-strategies, of course, monitoring of progress, and adjusting strategies as necessary. RTI teams typically use a team approach to problem solve and address the identified needs of students. After all, schools are all about learning, and maintaining that focus is essential to a PLC. Without it, you are doomed to fail.

Next is a focus on collaboration. Creating a collaborative culture through shared norms, mission, vision, and goals truly have a major impact on the school's effectiveness. The school's vision is considered the end goal or hopes and dreams for the future. It is usually a single, easy to remember but powerful statement that can be recited by any stakeholder. The mission is a breakdown of the summary of steps plan to reach the vision. They are more narrow than the vision, but broader than the goals.

Norms or common commitments are the agreed-upon values of the members of the team. They are how team members agree to achieve the vision and mission of the PLC. Norms are written as behaviors, not as beliefs, which make them actionable and always transparent. Goals are the steps that will be taken to achieve the mission and vision. Goals are specific, measurable, attainable, and often aligned to a responsible individual or individual group to monitor. Goals are also bound by time. You might want to do some research on SMART goals if that is a term you are not familiar with. The most effective PLC teams take advantage of purposeful collaboration, because they recognize that if individuals and groups are working in silos, success is unlikely.

The final critical feature that we will cover here is focusing on results through having a data mindset. The term data can sometimes carry with it an unfair connotation. Just because we talk about data, it does most definitely not mean that we are losing sight of the individual student. Data collection and analysis is essential to assigning responsibility to improve those results. Without data, we are left to guess or haphazardly address the needs of individual students, thus denying them the best education that they're entitled to.

It's time for a quick summary of this lesson, and it can actually be done in three words. The gist of this lesson was that there are three features that PLCs need. They are a focus on learning, collaboration, and results. Now it's time for today's Food for Thought. Of the three features we discussed-- learning, collaboration, and results-- which do you feel is the one holding your organization back?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the Additional Resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks so much for joining me. Have a great day. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Critical Features of a PLC"

(00:00-00:14) Intro

(00:15-01:05) Safety First!

(01:06-02:28) Focus on Learning

(02:29-03:55) Focus in Collaboration

(03:56-04:29) Focus on Data

(04:30-05:14) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Professional Learning Communities, Data Driven Decision Making, And Response To Intervention

This article demonstrates how using data is a critical element in the RTI process. The RTI Action Network website has many tools and articles to assist PLCs in developing their RTI teams and processes.

Task 5: Develop Vision and Mission Statements

The South Central Comprehensive Center at the University of Oklahoma provides a step-by-step activity to guide teams through the development of their vision and mission.