Weston PLC’s: “Professional Learning Communities”
Collaboration, New Ideas, and Data
30 Hours of Sustained Focus
The Weston Public Schools has a long history of collegiality and strong teams at the center of working relationships. Throughout our system, teachers work to share best practices and to assess student progress in order to make ongoing decisions about instruction in classrooms. After years of working successfully in teams, Weston teachers recognize the range of benefits that come from collaboration. Those tangible benefits include, the ability to train new teachers effectively, to implement curricular changes cohesively, to write curriculum, and to provide support for all aspects of classroom management.
These important team benefits are now being enhanced by a deeper more extended use of data to guide some aspects of our work. This past year, Weston teachers committed to “30 Hours of Focus” on sustained topics of interest. The goal was to focus the system’s use of professional development time and training, to have groups of teachers study an area of need for the length of the school year. Using a PLC model, of “Professional Learning Communities” teachers committed to collecting data and using it to guide their areas of focused learning. To support their areas of interest, Weston provided a range of speakers and consultants to target areas of needed support.
The combination of commitment to data, and Weston’s team history, was powerful. The outcomes from the year of work were impressive. Using a wide range of data sources, teachers studied student work to influence instructional practice. Every group of colleagues throughout the Weston Public Schools was given the time and support to focus their efforts; nurses, specialists, special educators, psychologists, and teachers – all forged PLC teams with data to guide their focus. Attaining 30 hours of learning on a single topic while maintaining the full range of work that teaching entails was a substantial commitment across the system. It has been impressive to see the broad areas of interest that defined group topics, and to feel the positive impact of affirming progress with data.
Heading into the 2010-11 school year, Weston teachers will continue with the model of PLC’s and sustained learning. Using data to guide this year’s 30 hours of focus, teams will move forward with the goal of having a positive impact on the student experience in all Weston classrooms.
Amber Bock, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction