Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014-2015 PLC Reflections

Our Professional Learning Community (PLC) includes leaders and educators. We meet every Friday for an hour to discuss issues and plan for teaching events that affect our fifth grade learning team.  So far this year, we have spent a lot of time discussing targeted efforts with respect to students' learning progress and needs. Throughout these discussions we have discussed formal and informal data points, student engagement, and teaching ideas.  In all, I believe our meetings have been effective and have served to make our collective contribution to children stronger.

Compared to the past, I believe our PLC approach is stronger now. I believe this is true because the practice has become embedded in school culture and we've learned from past efforts how to become more efficient, inclusive, and targeted. We've established roles and share notes each week. Also we have a bit of a pattern in place with respect to our approximately six-week RTI periods--periods where we assess, create groups, target teaching, assess again, reflect and then move into a new six-week period. The PLC and RTI approaches support each other and result in more tailored attention to individual children and small groups.

As our PLC's move forward, I wonder how we can work to grow this effort with even greater result. For starters, the book I learned of recently, Rethinking Positive Thinking,  would create a good discussion point in this regard. I'd also like to see us identify one or two main growth areas and then try out action based research and the use of greater assessment to move our collective efforts ahead in areas that matter a lot. We started an approach like this with our discussions and share related to at-risk math students.  During the next two weeks we'll use data and discussion to further this discussion with all math students in mind as we create new RTI groups and refine our efforts within those groups to teach well.

One idea I have for future growth is to identify the children we feel we are reaching with the least success and work together to reach those students in better ways. We would first have to identify the attributes we consider most important and then the students who are not demonstrating success in those areas. Then together we would have to identify better ways to reach those students, try out those efforts, collect data, assess, reflect, refine, and so on.  This could be a great initiative with important, life changing results.

For my own part, like many, the key is to continue to work at collaborative skill and effort. I've been keenly aware of the changing expectations in schools as we move from isolation (one teacher--one classroom) to greater collaboration. I've been observant of efforts that work well and move us forward and efforts that don't work as well. I've watched the way that educators embrace new thinking and share their efforts with effect and look forward to learning more about that as I conquer my new year's professional book list.

We're fortunate to have PLCs and RTI embedded in the work we do each week, and now the focus is to continue our work in this regard with greater individual and collective skill and result.  Onward.

Resources for Future PLC Growth
Neuroscience of Successful Teams