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Developing Effective Professional

Learning Communities
Best Practices for PLC Teams to Increase
Student Learning

Egg Harbor Township

Dr. Jerry Woehr
( (609) 314-4096

February 13, 2015



* Know what effective PLCs include

*Know how to implement and evaluate PLC
teams that increase student learning

Can we really make a


School and Teacher Effects on

Student Achievement
School Teacher Effectiveness: after 3 years




Highly Effective Sch / Highly Ineffective Teacher



Highly Ineffective Sch / Highly Effective Teacher


Highly Effective Sch / Highly Effective Teacher



Highly Effective Sch / Average Teacher



Average School/Average Teacher

Highly Ineffective Sch / Highly Ineffective Tchr

Definition: 3 Key Points

A PLC is a collection of
interdependent Professional
Learning Teams (and
individuals) committed to the
learning of each student.
Staff members engage in
personal job imbedded


Why a PLC?
No one teacher can know:
all components of the curriculum,
all of the available instructional
strategies, and
all of the information about a student

The collective we is more
powerful, knows more, and is better
able to instruct more effectively than
the individual me.

Medically, which would you want?

A doctor that keeps up professionally so
they know the latest effective
A doctor that knows what is available, as well
as is able to use, new technology?
A doctor that meets with others who do
what she does, to constantly look at
results, treatment options, ways to be
effective with certain groups, and
organizational structures?

Educationally, as a parent, a student, or a citizen,

would you want?
A teacher that keeps up professionally so
they know the latest effective

A teacher that knows what is

available, as well as is able to
use, new technology?
A teacher that meets with
others who do what she
does, to constantly look at
results, treatment options,
ways to be effective with
certain groups, and
organizational structures?

The best judge of whether a

teacher was effective

The best judge of whether a

teacher was effective

is next years teacher

Implemented well, PLCs result in

increased student learning!!!

THE TRICK is. . .

doing it well. . .
NJEA endorses PLCs . . .
(when they are implemented correctly!)

Improving my professional abilities

A smart teacher
recognizes that the
ONLY way to increase
student achievement
rates is to improve
teachers instructional
knowledge and skills.
Sooooo, provide
A gift!!!!!

A smart administration
recognizes that
improving instruction is
the ONLY way to
increase student
achievement rates.
Sooooo, provide
A smart investment!!!!!

Educators Secret!


all students learn?

Would you take

the bet?
$1 million, but only if

Does it fit all together?

Do you get it?

For teachers, changes in all C.I.A.

TEACHNJ lists characteristics of instruction

you should use (knowledge & capacity?)
CORE / NJCCCS lists the what; content
and curriculum for each course
PARCC - HSPA / Performance Assessments
shift to end of course tests
PLC Teams the process to improve

Now on to
What do you do in PLC Teams?
Agreements (how we work together)
Reached through Norms

PLC Team Do the Work
Assess progress

Norms: we agree how to

work together
Write specific team
norms that are
Post at each meeting
Can be adjusted at
any time

Team Agreement
Members Responsibilities
Decision making

Roles: PLC Teams

Team member
Facilitator; can step into member role
during meeting
Maintenance of sense of team

Minutes must be read and evaluated (short!)


Role of Administrators
Principal responsibilities
Does not direct nor have
no or little involvement
with PLC teams. Is a
contributing member of the
team, when present

- Provide available

resources (explain honestly where

not available)
-- Shares

May direct a school-wide

goal OR approves each
teams SMART goal

Reads and reports on

Teams minutes posts in staff
dining room

successes often
Has (initiates?) difficult
On-line presence or in own
PLC Team
Continue reading /
learning about PLCs
Secures buy-in from
central administration and


Are you truly addressing the correct
Do you feel as if you are productive?
What gets in the way when you try to get
better results?
To do what you need, are the norms helping
or hurting the process?
Are you on your way to reach your SMART


Questions for Learning


What is essential for students to learn?

How will we know if they have learned it?
What will we do if they dont learn it?
(What interventions will be put in place?)
What will we do if they already know it?
What do we, the teachers, need to know to
support student learning?

THE Action Plan

6 Steps
Have clear curricula; essential learnings-pacing
Decide what measures are being used
(collectively) to assess student progress?
How are students doing? (groups and
And if they didnt learn we (I?) will..
And if they knew it before we began (or
very soon after) we (I?) will.
What do we (and especially I) need to learn
to get better results?

Common Problems


For frequent and meaningful PLC

Team meetings

Specific Measurable
Achievable Relevant Timely

Are you comfortable using

~ DOE Toolkit
Chapter 8
pp 146-155

After analyzing data

select a SMART
goal and begin
work on achieving
your objective
Sample Team Plan
(TK 10.1)

Evaluation of Team progress and

on achieving a SMART Goal
Are we being an effective team AND
achieving a data-driven learning goal?

Success is seen when common

formative assessments are being
created and scored together

Can you justify - to the BOE

your activities during time in
PLC team meetings?

Be careful you are not just doing

good, instead of doing right!

Great way to check on how

effective you are as a team

13.2 Evaluation of team meetings
13.3 Evaluation of me as a member of the team

PLC Team Tasks:

Work on one of five areas
Team building (learning about PLCs, confirming roles
and expectations, creating norms, assessing team
progress, reviewing schedule and next meeting agenda,
or evaluating progress as a team as well as toward
SMART goal)

Data analysis (selecting valid and reliable data,

knowing how to analyze and interpret, being sure data

needed is available, able to chart progress)

Work on one of five areas

Review, build, coordinate curriculum. (match

CCCS + local curriculum + lesson plans. Essential

learning + pacing for each course)
Instructional changes (review effective techniques,
explore technology, interdisciplinary units, observe each
other, match changes needed with data analysis)
Assessment improvement (assessment for
learning, common formative assessments)

Curriculum is where to begin

Great way to roll out new state standards!

Must get agreement on benchmark assessments
Common focus on improved instruction

Great value in having teams

share with each other
~ What are the teams goals?
~ Are there connections?
~ How will your team know when you have
reached your goal? (evaluation criteria)
~ How are you doing? What is happening in
your team meetings?
~ How is this improving student achievement?

PLC Meetings: Last Actions

Worthwhile learning?
Next agenda?

Are you ready?

What do you need next to

keep you as a great PLC Team?

Biggest problem is the required learnings;
time to read, see webinars, go to
workshops, and discuss ideas with others.
Everyone wants someone else in charge
Very uncomfortable with new ways to work
Lack of resources available (time to meet,
availability of support services, or lack of
funds for PD)

New Jersey DOE PLC Tool Kit

(GET IT!!!!!)
NJ DOE has a long-standing partnership with NSDC who
developed and published a tool kit to support the
development of professional learning communities

Collaborative Professional Learning in School and

Beyond: A Tool Kit for New Jersey Educators
The tool kit is password-protected on the NJDOE web site
Contact Dr. Jerry Woehr at and he will
send you the link to download it directly