Professional Learning Communities

“A Professional Learning Community (PLC) is the ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. PLCs operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is a continuous job-embedded learning for educators.”  -DuFour, DuFour & Eaker

The big ideas that drive the work of a PLC include:

  • The purpose of our school is to ensure all students learn at high levels.
  • Helping all students learn requires a collaborative commitment and collective effort.
  • To assess our effectiveness in helping all students learn we must focus on results – evidence of student learning – and use the results to inform and improve our professional practice and respond to students who need intervention or enrichment.

What does this look like in the Polson School District?

On Wednesdays, students are dismissed from school early. During this time, staff at each school are busy working together on various teams across the District with one overall purpose – STUDENT LEARNING! Teams are varied within each building by either subject area and/or grade level. Teachers work with others to share ideas, test and assignments, and essential learning outcomes for students. They develop coordinated curriculum, common assessments and instructional strategies to improve student learning. Results of student assessments are shared with the goal of adjusting curriculum and improving instructional strategies to increase student performance.


Why Professional Learning Communities?

  • Every student matters – they are our customers and the future.
  • Teachers are the cornerstone to effective learning, and effective teaching in every classroom is critical to creating meaningful reform (Marzano, 2009).
  • Teaching is complex – development of instructional skills must continually be cultivated through collaboration and professional development.
  • On-going accountability for continuous improvement.
  • Action = SMART goals, Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum, Common Formative Assessment, Collaborative Teaming, and Effective use of data.


PLC Focus:

  • Commitment to the learning of each student
  • Systematic, collective, and  interdependent process
  •  Improving results of students who need additional support or greater challenge

The Four Critical Questions of a PLC:

  • What is it we expect kids to learn?
  • How will we know when they have learned it?
  • How will we respond when they don’t learn?
  • How will we respond when they already know it?