Recently, I read a few articles about Learning Communities. I have been part of formal learning communities since I started teaching, and informal learning communities my entire life. The formal learning communities we usually call PLCs in the education world. Besides participating in PLCs, I’ve also had the opportunity to attend a PLC conference hosted by the DuFours themselves. That conference was the game changer for me, causing me to no longer use the term PLC, but to just use “my team”.
Learning communities (or teams) such as departments or grade level teams, are a great tool to improve both teacher and student success. They are especially useful if utilized at least weekly. If daily formative assessments are showing a common weakness among the students or the teacher, the other members of the learning community can provide feedback and suggestions. Each teacher, with the help of their team, can develop a specific plan for what changes can be made in the classroom (Wiliam, 2008). Together, teachers can build formative assessments that will best fit the needs of their students and school that give daily and weekly feedback. Teachers shouldn’t be waiting until state or district assessments data is released as it’s often done too late to help students in the moment (Heritage, 2007).
Specifically, my take away from recently reading these articles is that teachers are often confused on what formative assessments are because many publishing companies have put that label on a large number of items. Part of my professional development plan will me modeling and teaching appropriate formative assessments to teachers that will give them daily and weekly feedback so they may make adjustments within their classroom as quickly as possible for the benefit of the students.
Heritage, M. (2007, October). Formative assessment: What do teachers need to know and do? Phi delta kappan, pp. 140-145.
Wiliam, D. (2008, January). Changing classroom practice. Educational leadership, pp. 36-42.