Feb. 2013 Column

Professional Learning Communities, the program which Hobbs Schools has spent the past decade implementing at all of our city schools, has three goals: (1), to improve student learning, (2) to stimulate collaboration and cooperation among staff members and (3), to continually improve the instructional process. Many parents and students equate PLC to early dismissal from school each Wednesday. This is actually a small segment of our Professional Learning Community. 

PLC helps our staff to learn methods which ensure that material presented in the classroom is learned by each student. Teaching does not occur by the instructor alone. Learning is only accomplished when the instruction becomes a two-way process. Students must not just be taught, they must learn and be given the appropriate amount of time to do so. So strong is our belief in this fact, it is the HMS motto: “All Children Will Learn.” Intervention must be a part of the learning condition, rather than retention. As a result, we must all accept responsibility for student learning.  Custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, administration, teachers and students alike are all part of the learning process.  We cannot fall back on the excuse that the material was presented but out students did not get it. We must guarantee that we will do whatever it takes to educate our children.

Research is clear in proving most people learn best while working in groups. Very few jobs exist where persons are solely responsible for production without some form of collaboration with coworkers. Accordingly, schools should be venues of collaboration for high levels of learning to take place. This is why we give our teachers time each week to “brainstorm” with each other and also to review resources and best practices to reach and improve learning for all of our students.

 Likewise, individual schools must also look for ways to continuously improve. Standing water becomes stagnate.  Plan, do, stud and act is one of the most widely used continuous improvement models. In order to improve we must focus on results.  Results should be standards based from a “common assessment” or test. Test results need to be returned to the instructor in a timely manner so intervention can be implemented to redirect/reinstruct and improve learning.  In a true professional learning community a guaranteed and viable curriculum must be present. Teachers in Hobbs schools collaborate to create pacing guides to ensure learning is progressing in all classrooms.

Earlier this school year, administrators spent many days “auditing” the learning process at most of our schools. Feedback from teachers and other staff emphasized the importance of effectively using our PLC time. Hopefully the ideas previously mentioned appear familiar to the community of Hobbs.  HMS has been implementing PLC into the system for over a decade. Hobbs Municipal Schools uses the early release time on Wednesdays as part of the collaboration time for staff to work on the three aforementioned premises; improving learning, collaboration, and continuous improvement. We will continue to improve learning, by implementing the Professional Learning Community model.

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