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Professional Learning Communities

Professional Learning Community Defined

Dr. Rick DuFour defines a professional learning community (PLC) as “a group of people working interdependently toward the same goal.” Interdependence is an essential element because it:

  • Provides equal access (equity, or universal access) to quality teaching by strengthening each teacher’s practice through collaboration, coaching, and shared planning
  • Ends teacher isolation (thus reducing burnout)
  • Helps teachers work smarter by sharing the tasks of analyzing data, creating common assessment tools, and devising other strategies for both students who struggle and those who need more challenge
  • Provides teacher professional growth and job satisfaction through intellectual renewal, new learning, and cultivating leadership

The process is intended to harness the collective energies, talents, and expertise of teaching professionals.

A key aspect of the PLC approach involves providing time – embedded into the school schedule – to address the four essential questions of student learning:

  • What is it that we expect students to learn?
  • How will we know that they have learned it?
  • How will we respond when they haven’t learned it?
  • How will we respond if they have already learned it?

The cycle below reflects the ongoing work of a PLC team, ideally resulting in improved student achievement.


Cycle of Collaborative Team