Resources for Teachers
Essential Characteristics of a PLCj
“The success of the PLC concept depends not on the merits of the concept itself, but on the most important element in the improvement of any school—the commitment and persistence of the educators within it.” —Richard DuFourThe Du Four model is based around four questions and four pillars. We use the four questions to plan instruction, assess student progress, and respond instructionally.
Here are the questions:
- What do we expect our students to learn?
Guaranteed aligned curriculum across grade levels and vertically from one grade to the next.
Common Core, learning targets, standards in student work and rigor
How will we know they have learned it?
Use our assessments, observations and data to monitor student learning.
Common assessments, quick checks for understanding, formative assessments, summative assessments, results analysis
How will we respond when some students do not learn?
Teachers collaborate to understand student learning needs and respond
Re-teaching, classroom interventions, specialist or tutor interventions, home connections
How will we extend and enrich learning for students who have demonstrated proficiency?
Acceleration and/or enrichment
Whole class or in Small groups, individual differentiation, student choices
Shared Mission, Vision, Values, Goals:
Educators in a PLC benefit from clarity regarding their shared purpose, a common understanding of the school they are trying to create, collective communities to help move the school in the desired direction, and specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound (SMART) goals to mark their progress.
Collaborative Teams Focused on Learning:
In a PLC, educators work together interdependently in collaborative teams to achieve common goals for which they are mutually accountable. The structure of the school is aligned to ensure teams are provided the time and support essential to adult learning.
Teams in a PLC relentlessly question the status quo, seek new methods of teaching and learning, test the methods, and then reflect on the results. Building shared knowledge of both current reality and best practice is an essential part of each team’s decision-making process.
Action Orientation and Experimentation:
Members of a PLC constantly turn their learning and insights into action. They recognize the importance of engagement and experience in learning and in testing new ideas. They learn by doing.
Commitment to Continuous Improvement:
Not content with the status quo, members of a PLC constantly seek better ways to achieve mutual goals and accomplish their fundamental purpose of learning for all. All teams engage in an ongoing cycle of:
- Gathering evidence of current levels of student learning
- Developing strategies and ideas to build on strengths and address weaknesses in that learning
- Implementing the strategies and ideas
- Analyzing the impact of the changes to discover what was effective and what was not
- Applying the new knowledge in the next cycle of continuous improvement
Educators in a PLC assess their efforts on the basis of tangible results. They are hungry for evidence of student learning and use that evidence to inform and improve their practice.