The focus of teachers’ work during Student Late Arrival days is on developing School Leadership Teams that are part of a larger Professional Learning Community (PLC). Click on the related box in the right column to see what a PLC looks like in District 205 (there is also a link below).
In the complex world of 21st century education, collaboration is the key to both student and teacher success. A Professional Learning Community consists of team members who take an active, reflective, collaborative, learning-oriented and growth-promoting approach to teaching and learning.
“The most promising strategy for sustained, substantive school improvement is developing the ability of school personnel to function as professional learning communities” said Dr. Richard DuFour, former superintendent of Adlai Stevenson High School, now an internationally renowned PLC guru.
During the 2011-12 school year, District 205 teacher leaders and administrators participated in a professional learning program which was offered on site by the DuPage Regional Office of Education. Over six highly interactive sessions, led by educational leadership expert Dr. Al Bertani, participants developed and enhanced their PLC skills to create high-performing School Leadership Teams. To view a video which provides insight into this process in District 205, please click here.
Research shows that teacher professional development is the single most important factor in increasing student achievement. “There’s a University of Chicago study, built out of a book called Organizing Schools for Improvement*, which talks about the fact that really strong schools, in terms of their professional learning communities, are ten times more likely to actually improve (student scores) in reading and mathematics,” states Dr. Bertani.
Development of PLCs is a long-time initiative of the District 205 Board of Education, embraced and encouraged by Superintendent Dave Pruneau, and is supported by the Elmhurst Teachers Council.
“Educational reform movements are emphasizing that teacher professional learning is a key component of change and an important link between standards and improved student learning,” notes Dr. John Murray of Auburn University. “As students are expected to learn more complex material and new analytical skills in preparation for further education and work in the age of information and globalization, teachers must learn to teach in ways that encourage higher level thinking and performance. A new kind of teaching is needed, conducted by teachers who understand learning and as well as teaching, who can address students’ needs and the demands of their disciplines, and who can create bridges between students’ experiences and curriculum goals.”
Further information on the importance of building Professional Learning Communities is documented in a white paper called Transforming Teacher Work for a Better Educated Tomorrow, released in November 2011 by Advance Illinois.
*Bryk, A.S., Sebring, P.B., Allensworth, E., Luppescu S., & Easton, J.Q. (2010). Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press