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Professional Learning Community (18)
A professional learning community describes a group of administrators and school staff who are united in their commitment to student learning. They share a vision, work and learn collaboratively, visit and review other classrooms, and participate in decision making. The benefits to the staff and students include reduced isolation of teachers, better informed and more committed teachers, and academic gains for students. A professional learning community is a powerful staff-development approach and a potent strategy for school change and improvement. A professional learning community provides professional development opportunities that employ best practices and allow staff to engage as learners as well as leaders, using practices such as Critical Friends Group. It explicitly addresses equity in the classroom and provides collaborative planning time focused on instructional practice.
Transforming: Practices support and focus on student learning.
- Professional development explicitly addresses equity in the classroom. Conversations are grounded in data and centered on student learning and understanding how students learn. The school community regularly discusses equity, understanding different points of view, beliefs and assumptions, and actions to be taken. The focus is on improving developing skills and knowledge necessary to improve student performance, eliminate racial gaps, increase emotional well-being for all students, and accelerate learning for students who have been underserved.
- Professional development is focused on inquiry, collaboration, and reflection, employing best practices that allow staff to engage as learners as well as leaders. Staff make their practice and beliefs public through the use of structures such as Critical Friends Groups (CFGs), Looking at Student or Teacher Work (LASW or LATW) protocols, professional text, opportunities to critique student presentations and scoring procedures, school-based research, refining rubrics and reviewing performance assessment processes, and peer observation. All of these are in service of staff knowing students well and teaching to a variety of learning styles. Learning is intensely peer-to-peer. School members are accountable to one another for their professional development and create portfolios of their best practices to share with other staff.
- Vision and mission guide the professional development opportunities afforded to the staff. The CES Common Principles are referenced and integrated into the professional development. Core values include learning that reflects habits of mind and heart for adults and students, use of data, integration of student voices, and looking at student work and opportunities to develop teacher leadership.
- Professional development needs are informed through the use of the cycle of continuous school improvement and through collaborative decision making. Schoolwide and individual teacher professional development plans are aligned with schoolwide improvement plans. The school decides two or three areas of focus that frame professional development for the year.
- The school has substantial professional development opportunities built into the calendar at the beginning and end of the school year, extended periods for professional development (retreats, in-house professional development, CFGs, and so on), as well as common planning time throughout the day.
- A system is in place to integrate new staff into school culture and practices. This includes orientation, training, and continued support (mentoring, support groups, and so on).
- Structures are present that facilitate effective collaboration and professional intellectual and emotional conversation. This includes opportunities to attend conferences, CFG training, teacher inquiry groups, and facilitation training for staff. In addition, the school measures the success and impact of professional development. These measurements are public and understood by the entire school community.
Developing: Practice is reflected in teacher planning and instruction.
- Professional development includes opportunities for collaboration, reflection, and inquiry. Looking at student and teacher work and learning from each other are key components of professional development.
- Professional development is focused on improving instructional practice. All staff members have a professional development goal focused on instruction and improving student achievement.
- Professional development makes use of a variety of structures and groupings.
- Data is used consistently in faculty meetings. Staff examine the data collaboratively with a focus on understanding the data on student achievement.
- Teachers actively share best practices, although it may be in an unstructured manner.
- Professional development opportunities support knowing students well and understanding various learning styles. Differentiation is a key focus of conversations.
- Use of teacher professional development for collaboration and common planning is growing.
Early: Learning about and planning for the practice has become important to the teaching staff.
- Professional development is collaborative in nature.
- A small group of staff members are involved in the planning of the professional development.
- Professional texts are used as resources.
- The 10 Common Principles are present in the professional development plan.
- Some teachers make an independent choice to plan collaboratively.
- There is some understanding of the connection between teacher actions and student learning.
· Professional development may still be episodic or underutilized.
The National School Reform Faculty has information on Critical Friends Groups and an annotated bibliography of protocols.
We are currently hosting a forum dedicated to questions and discussions about the CES School Benchmarks.
- Looking Collaboratively at Student Work: An Essential Toolkit Siderbars:Some Guidelines for Learning from Student Work The Collaborative Assessment Conference The Tuning Protocol: A Process for Reflection on Teacher and Student Work The Primary Language... March 15, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - Looking At Student Work, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- Improving Instruction Through Inquiry and Collaboration (IITIC) Funded by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the Southern Maine Partnership and the CES Northwest Center are each working with three local schools to assess and improve classroom instruction.... June 20, 2002 - Peer Coaching, Critical Friends Groups, Looking At Student Work, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- Sustaining Change: The Struggle to Maintain Identity at Central Park East Secondary School Central Park East Secondary School (CPESS) in East Harlem was one of the most highly acclaimed and successful schools to come out of the period of school reform in the 1980s from which the Coalition... December 02, 2009 by Dianne Suiter, Deborah Meier - sustainability
- Four Essential Elements of School Design When we at the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) talk about "school design," we refer not to the physical design of the school building (though that also deserves attention), but to decisions... March 14, 2002 by Kathy Simon - Learning Structures, Small Learning Communities, Scheduling, Heterogeneous Grouping, Peer Coaching
- Networks and Essential Schools: How Trust Advances Learning Sidebars: Circles of Support: The Context for Successful School Restructuring The Essential School Network and How It Grew Creating a Network of Schools as Critical Friends: The Fifty Schools... March 15, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - Critical Friends Groups, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- "So Now What?" Managing the Change Process Sidebars:"Stages of Concern" in One School's Change ProcessOne High Schoo's Consensus Decision-Making ProcessThe School Development Program's "Three-by-Three" Process What Schools Can Learn from... April 23, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - The Change Process, Decision Making Processes
- How Friends Can Be Critical As Schools Make Essential Changes Sidebars:Among Friends: Norms for Inquiry and Analysis Essential Tools in the Trek Toward ChangeSome Principles for Planning Effective School Visits A Teacher's Tool for Observing Peers in the... March 15, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - Peer Coaching, Critical Friends Groups, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- Where to Go for More: Resources for Cycles of Inquiry and Action Teacher Action Research for Equity and Multicultural Education Though brief, this section of the EdChange website is worth noting as a resource that focuses particularly on inquiry and teacher action... June 02, 2009 - Cycle Of Inquiry, Data Collection & Analysis
- Practice Into Theory: Teachers Coaching Teachers Sidebars:Quotes: ProblemsHorace's MailboxRethinking the Curriculum: It messes things up--but that's what it's supposed to doAssessment and Exhibitions: Do we rearrange the furniture we've got, or... March 14, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - Peer Coaching, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- Teacher Renewal: Essential in a Time of Change Sidebars:Who's Teaching What, and to Whom? What Do Essential School Teachers Want Most? Teachers Choosing Peers as Leaders of Change 'Design Studios' Foster Teacher R and D Support for Teachers... March 15, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - The Change Process, Peer Coaching, Critical Friends Groups, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- Teacher Education in Essential Schools: The University-School Partnership Sidebars:Demographics, Regulation, Assessment: Who Teaches? How Well? How Do We Know?What Should Pre-Service Education Look Like? An Atlas Community's Answer Suggested Readings/Information In a... March 15, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - Peer Coaching, Critical Friends Groups, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- The Essential Conversation: Getting It Started, Keeping It Going Sidebars:Figure 1: Conversation Starters: Some Key Questions Figure 2: Some Techniques to Keep the Conversation Going Figure 3: Conversation Starters: A Discussion About Decency Figure 4:... April 24, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - The Change Process
- Making Great Teachers into Great Advisors: Advisory Training at Parker Charter Essential School Many Coalition schools have incorporated advisories into their school structure to helping students find personal connection and opportunities for growth in school. Schools that find advisories... December 13, 2002 by Jill Davidson - Peer Coaching, Teacher Collaboration & Learning
- Teaching in the Essential School Sidebars:Essential Math and Science : How Can It Work?Designing Assignments Across DisciplinesWhat About Teacher Education?Information and Resources It has become a truism in education that the... March 14, 2002 by Kathleen Cushman - Instruction, Subject Integration, Student-as-worker
- The Value of Core Principles in the Age of Change As I reflect on CES and its groundbreaking, significant work over the past 25 years, I am regularly reminded of the importance of the core guiding principles, even as the educational landscape... December 02, 2009 by Adelric McCain - Common Principles
- What Works, What Doesn't: Lessons from Essential School Reform Lesson 1 Change efforts fail without the support of all key stakeholders from the start. Lesson 2 Get consensus on the need for change before you start - then begin working... April 27, 2002 - The Change Process
- From The Inside Out: Eagle Rock School Producing a New Generation of CES Teachers Six years ago, I founded Eagle Rock’s Teaching Fellowship Program in collaboration with Public Allies, Inc. and under the auspices of Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center. I knew... April 14, 2008 by Dan Condon - Learning Structures, Small Learning Communities
- Doing Something Real: Horace interviews with Debbie Meier on Community Service Deborah Meier began her teaching career as a kindergarten and Head Start teacher in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City. She was the founder and teacher-director of a network of highly successful... April 02, 2008 - Community Collaboration