Professional learning communities foster an environment of collaboration among educators in order to align content, and share instructional strategies that will increase student achievement. Many teachers, either new to the profession or a school district do not understand the structure and practice of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Research suggests when teachers work with aligned curriculum student depth of knowledge increases, which in turn increases test scores by 50-80% (Sims, and Penny, 2007). By understanding the structure and practice, teachers will be well equipped to promote student success. This paper will focus on organized effectiveness and specific skill sets that make professional learning communities successful. Negative findings, although rare, will be discussed, as well as what can be done to create positive outcomes in the future.
Organized effectiveness is a way to ensure student achievement through common assessment. Using strategies such as SMART goals within a teaching group is one example of this. SMART goals are a group of common goals within a teaching group that are Strategic and specific, Measurable, Attainable, Result-oriented and Time-bound. By aligning curriculum to meet all these standards, you have an organized plan of teaching curriculum that can be effective in classrooms of the same subject regardless of the teacher.
Social interests of school leaders and teachers play a key role in student learning. It is pertinent for all staff to be on board with the idea of professional learning communities and aligning curriculum not just to the subject but to the goals of the district as well. According to (Knutson, Miranda, and Washel...
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... teacher had an extra planning period to collaborate with other teachers. After only two years, the extra plan was taken away and the teachers were expected to collaborate on their own time, thus destroying the attempt at collaborative teaching in the school. Sims and Penny strongly believe that if an institute has proper backing, sufficient time and purposeful reflection, that organization will be more likely to be successful and have higher student achievement.
Most research and data suggest that professional learning communities are good for an educational institution. With proper management and support, teacher collaboration can enhance the learning experience for a student which in turn creates higher student achievement. Teachers can work together to create curriculum, pacing, and assessments that foster student success on multiple learning levels.
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