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"This Is Parkway" Digital Magazine

Professional Learning Communities


  1. What is a Professional Learning Community (PLC)?
    • A professional learning community is a group of educators who are committed to working together to help each child be more successful in school.
    • PLCs measure their effectiveness on the basis of results for students, rather than intentions or good ideas. It’s about monitoring data, taking action and continually adjusting to meet the needs of students.
    • PLCs are instrumental in achieving Goal 4 of Parkway’s strategic plan: “Develop and support strong professional communities that utilize data, knowledge, experience and research to improve practice and accomplish goals.”
  2. How are PLC activities different from traditional professional development?
    • Under the PLC model, time for professional learning is more frequent and consistent. Rather than full days of school and district meetings, the focus is on groups of teachers reviewing individual student achievement data, identifying students who need extra help or more challenging work, investigating better teaching practices to help all students, and planning future instruction.
    • The five key questions that will guide the work of PLC teams are:
      • What do we want students to understand after each unit, course or grade level?
      • How will we know if they understand it?
      • What will we do if they don’t understand?
      • What will we do if they already understand?
      • What are the proven best practices we can use in the classroom to benefit all students?
  3. When will Parkway begin implementing PLCs district-wide?
    Parkway will begin district-wide implementation of PLCs in the 2012-13 school year.
  4. What is the effect of PLCs on the 2012-13 school calendar?
    • Eight 2-hour morning PLC sessions will replace two 8-hour professional development days.
    • On the first Wednesday of every month, except August and January, teachers will meet for two (2) hours, beginning at each school’s regularly scheduled starting time. All students will have a delayed start, beginning exactly two hours after the regular start time.
    • The PLC dates are September 5, October 3, November 7, December 5, February 6, March 6, April 3 and May 1. Parkway's 2012-2013 Academic Year Calendar (PDF).
  5. Don’t teachers already have planning time?
    • Yes, but teachers need that time to prepare lessons and grades, return phone calls and e-mails, meet with students and parents, update websites, etc. There isn’t enough time for collaboration.
    • Many schools have implemented PLCs and try to schedule ways to work together, but additional, dedicated time is needed so that teachers can collaborate around student learning.
    • District-wide PLC times also allow teachers from different schools to work cooperatively.
  6. Why can’t the professional development be done before/after school or during the summer?
    Those times fall outside of our teachers’ contractual agreement. Dedicated time within the school day ensures maximum participation and provides the most benefit for students.
  7. How will PLC days impact teaching and learning time?
    • There is no impact on total instructional time. Two full district professional development days are eliminated and the 16 hours are divided among PLC days.
    • Students will have more consecutive learning days rather than missing an entire day.
  8. How do delayed start days impact transportation and student activities?
    Buses will arrive exactly two hours later than usual and after-school activities will not be affected.
  9. What is the rationale for selecting a delayed start instead of early release?
    • Allows more focused, undistracted study time for teachers before the hustle and bustle of the school day begins.
    • Eliminates unsupervised after-school time during which students are waiting for athletics/activities to begin or are just “hanging out” at home alone for an extended time.
    • Gives students additional time to sleep in the morning.
    • Permits full participation of coaches and after-school activity sponsors.
  10. Did you consider holding PLC days on Fridays instead of Wednesdays?
    Yes, however based on the experiences of other districts, student and staff attendance is lower on Fridays. Holding sessions on Wednesdays will maximize learning time and participation in PLCs.
  11. What about child care before school for parents who work or have other commitments?
    • Parkway has arranged with the West County Family Y Club program to provide all elementary families with options for before school child care on the eight delayed start days in 2012-13.
    • The delayed start days' Y Club costs will range from $10 to $15 per day ($5 discount for each additional child), depending on the amount of time required, with a discount to register for all eight days.
    • For those who already participate in Y Club throughout the school year, the cost is $40 for all eight days ($5 discount for each additional child).
    • More Y Club details and registration materials (YMCA website)
  12. Where can I get more information about PLCs?