At a recent gathering of school leaders one principal asked another, “How did you get all this done?” “We sat down!” was the brief, forthright response. This common sense reply occurred at a gathering of leaders and teachers from seven private, Christian school districts participating with SPU’s Murdock Charitable Trust’s professional development grant. Though this answer is simple, it represents these educators’ collective commitment to ensure growing success for each student through development of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in their schools.
After identifying a coalition of teacher and school leaders, and arranging time for professional development, teams in each school began meeting. Each meeting focused on developing a shared understanding by naming and personalizing PLC best-practice concepts into the school’s mission and language. Next, shared vocabulary was turned into shared action for short-term wins.
The professional development or learning occurs in-the-doing as schools navigate their PLC journeys through reflection on results, new learning and action. Concepts such as continuous improvement, dispersed leadership, utilizing experts within, developing team norms, agendas and protocols, determining long to short-term student learning SMART goals, being data-informed and results-oriented, developing team actions are anchored in answering four essential PLC questions:
- What do we want students to understand, know and do? (Identifying clear essential learnings)
- How do we know students know? (common assessments)
- What are relevant learning strategies for all students (differentiation)
- What do we do when they do learn or already know and when they don’t? (Interventions) all become the action of a learner-centered collaborative community focused on kids.
Through Murdock’s generosity the Christian school sector is participating in professional development often overshadowed by the complexities of nonprofit entities. Through PLC professional development these seven school communities are becoming more equipped to fulfill, with families, the “sacred trust” of each student’s learning.
Find out more about SPU-school district partnerships.
Find out more about SPU partnerships.