Teaching and Learning Report

Department of Teaching and Learning Report

To:       Michael Green

From:   Asha Riley

Date:   December 9, 2015

Re:      Transforming Professional Learning Conference

Last month, our leadership team (principals, Deb Kernen, and myself) attended a conference facilitated by the leading professional development organization, Learning Forward. Our goal was to learn about the most effective means of professional development for all staff. In several sessions, we deepened our understanding of a variety of learning designs. Toward the end of the conference, we developed an action plan for enhancing the professional development we offer. Our first goal is to develop a strong learning organization. Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students occurs within learning communities committed to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment.

Learning Forward describes a highly effective professional learning community as follows:

Professional learning communities (PLCs) provide the setting in which staff members develop new knowledge and classroom skills and subsequently support each other’s high-quality use of new strategies to benefit student learning. Unfortunately, the term “PLC” has been used to describe diverse events, meetings, and activities that have little in common with collaborative, job embedded, ongoing learning among professionals. The Learning Communities standard describes the processes and conditions of a high-functioning learning community, focusing on three key areas: (1) committing to continuous improvement, (2) promoting collective responsibility, and (3) fostering alignment and accountability. Commit to continuous improvement.

Learning communities use the cycle of continuous improvement to guide their actions toward the improvement of their own learning as well as that of their students. Our leadership team intends to deepen our understanding of the following cycle and then begin implementing it in our system:

  1. Use data to identify educator and student learning needs;
  2. Identify shared learning goals for students and educators;
  3. Extend educators’ knowledge and skills through professional learning;
  4. Select and implement strategies to accomplish goals;
  5. Use new strategies in the workplace with local support;
  6. Monitor and refine implementation; and
  7. Evaluate results.