SHERIDAN — The Professional Learning Communities Model quickly became the newest enrichment program in education, but Sheridan County School District 2 officials say it’s only effective if educators properly implement it.
This week, educators will work to bridge the gap between theory and implementation during the SCSD2-hosted PLC Institute.
The conference, which is now in its third year, educates administrators on how to effectively use the PLC model. It hosts educators from across the state.
During the conference, nationally-renowned educators and researchers will give presentations that provide administrators with tools to successfully lead PLCs.
“This conference will be an opportunity for public school leaders across the state to collaborate specifically as to what we can do better to improve student learning,” said Scott Stults, assistant superintendent for SCSD2.
SCSD2’s effective use of the model will serve as a framework for the conference.
Stults said as a district, four questions drive every decision they make while using the PLC model. These include: What do teachers expect all students to know (guaranteed viable curriculum)? How do teachers determine if they know it (formative and summative assessments)? What do teachers do if students don’t know it (intervention)? What do they do if students do know it (enrichment)?
“We don’t wait until the end of the quarter, semester or the year — every week, our teachers get together,” SCSD2 Superintendent Craig Dougherty said. “If we see a student not getting it, (teachers) need to get together and ask, ‘What can we do differently?’”
SCSD2 teachers have found PLCs to be useful, as well. During the annual teachers roundtable in April, 96 percent of teachers said they believed students can achieve success through the PLC model.
Dougherty and Stults agree the PLC model has made the district successful in the classroom, citing the district’s consistently high test scores over the past several years.
“It’s a phenomenal model that has transformed our district,” Dougherty said. “Our belief is that if the kid fails, we fail. It’s our job instructionally that every single kid becomes a reader, writer, mathematician and has the grit and the work ethic to become a productive member of society. You do that collaborating with each other.”
The district elected to switch things up this year for the conference. Instead of inviting all educators to attend the conference, only administrators — including principals, curriculum directors and superintendents — will attend.
Dougherty said the change this year is due to the response from teachers during the previous PLC conferences. They said while teachers may know how to effectively collaborate, it only works if administrators know and understand the model.
“If you have three or four teachers in the building who can do it, but the principal is not on board, it’s not going to get done,” Dougherty said.
So far, the conference has had positive responses from educators; more than 130 administrators are expected to attend.
“We had such a chorus of people from all over the state wanting to attend, and so if we had a bigger space, we could have had 200 people,” Dougherty said.
The district will also kick off its PLC Live program at the conference.
The online collaboration program will allow teachers and administrators from across the nation to view SCSD2 techniques and practices.
“We are really excited about that program,” Dougherty said.
The conference will go from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to noon Thursday at the Edward A. Whitney Academic Center at Sheridan College.