DuFour & DuFour on PLCs

At the beginning of the year, a colleague handed me an article from the National Forum of Educational Administration & Supervision titled “The Power of Professional Learning Communities.”  I assumed that this was a redux of the DuFour article that we’re reading for this week, so I put off reading it.  However, I suggest that any of us look into this article.  Essentially, it’s the DuFour’s thesis in brief.  And it points out one point that had escaped me in my reading of the assigned DuFour article.

A professional learning community is a group of educators committed to working collaboratively in ongoing processes of collective inquiry and action research in order to achieve better results for the students they serve.

The collective inquiry bit I already caught on to.  However, that some form of action research was necessary, while perhaps self-evident to some, had not occurred to me.  What type of action research should I be involved in then?  Faculty attitudes toward technology?  The ways in which technology is used in class and in the lab?  Outcomes of such technology use? I assume that the answers are “sure, sure, and sure.”

In receiving feedback on my learning contract, a colleague noted that the “evidence of outcomes” regarding my own teaching will be “what are the students learning?”  What, then, is the evidence regarding information gained from teacher use of technology?  What “outcome” can I look for to determine that my practices as “technology standard bearer for the FL department” are effective?

There are a number of excellent points made by the DuFour’s in this article.  I hope to post it to the wiki tomorrow and comment on them there.

3 thoughts on “DuFour & DuFour on PLCs

  1. I read the articles on Professional Learning Communities in preparation for our most recent meeting with a very narrow interpretation of a PLC. Every aspect of a PLC that I thought of in terms of my past experience and possible future experience was limited to my content on my grade level. There is already insufficient time for this PLC, which I find the most necessary, to accomplish its most basic goals. As I read, the content of the articles led me to think of PLC’s on within the confines of an individual school. Embarrassingly, I did not even think about the cohort for which I was reading the article. When I first saw that quote that you pulled from the DuFour article, however, I immediately thought of our cohort. In fact, I think it very accurately describes the purpose of our cohort. I agree with you that the “action research” part of the PLC is going to be critical to the ultimate success or failure of our cohort’s work.

  2. I think the goal of the Dobbs experience is to have the cohort operate like a PLC-a community of learners. The challenge as compared to the JHS PLCs at Westminster is that you cannot meet daily. However, the online community you can create is a vehicle for keeping the fire burning. I would like to see some of you engage in some action research where you as teacher are the creator of new knowledge. Design an idea, implement it in the classroom, collect some data no the learning experience, and reflect on the success of the idea relative to enhanced student learning. This would be truly innovative in the area of professional development. Let’s do it.

    Bob Ryshke

  3. Bob,
    I’m all for it. Would the data collection come in the form of a survey? A summative assessment? What’s the normal protocol. Since I was brought up as a lit crit baby through undergrad and grad school, quantitative research is something that I haven’t done since high school, sadly.

    I would like to continue this conversation with the cohort group. Perhaps you, Brandi or Laura could let me know when would be a good time to bring up the topic of “how do conduct action research.”

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