The second Fall Meeting of the Professional Learning Committee was held on October 13th, 2017 from 2:00 to 4:30 pm. The goal of the meeting was to create pre and post writing assessments to improve academic outcomes among our ESL students. There were 17 teachers in attendance.
The meeting began with a review of the goals of the previous meeting by Mr. Rob Jenkins. There was substantial discussion regarding the role of the PLC in developing the assessments, and how these assessments may help teachers become more effective writing instructors. To this end, Ms. Monica Rojas gave a PowerPoint presentation on classroom “Play: Shapes The Brain; Opens The Imagination; Invigorates The Soul.” Monica discussed ways to increase classroom interaction and promote greater student participation. Some suggested strategies included: Field Trips; Humor; Storytelling; Sharing Food; Tossing a Ball for Vocabulary Practice; and Role Play. Finally, she emphasized the importance of creating community and a sense of belonging in the classroom. After Monica’s presentation on active learning strategies, teachers met in their groups by level to develop their writing assessments. Most teachers decided to gather data from their students by asking them to complete a short writing project. Teachers will return to the next PLC with the results of their projects to create their initial writing assessments. The results of these assessments will also inform the work of the ESL Department in tweaking and adjusting the new ESL Curriculum to become more responsive to student needs and improve academic outcomes.
The first Fall Meeting of the Professional Learning Community (PLC) was held at Centennial Education Center from 2 to 4 pm on September 29, 2017. The next meeting is scheduled for October 13, 2017 from 2 to 4 pm.
There were 17 teachers in attendance including the PLC leader, Rob Jenkins. Rob established 5 goals for our Fall PLC:
(1) Identify gaps in student learning related to the newly-revised ESL Curriculum
(2) Identify effective instructional strategies to remediate those gaps.
(3) Create common formative assessments to measure progress.
(4) Test out the instructional strategies throughout the semester.
(5) Evaluate instructional strategies based on the assessment results.
After initial discussion of our goal framework, the PLC divided into groups based on ESL instructional level. Then teachers discussed writing pre/post test formative assessments. In addition, they ranked the importance of the writing tasks identified in the new curriculum according to greatest perceived need. The writing task of greatest importance was suggested as the primary focus for our pre/post formative assessments. After much useful discussion, it was decided to begin work on the assessments at the following meeting. Finally, PLC member, Monica Rojas, kindly volunteered to give a literacy presentation at the next PLC meeting as well as to take photos while serving as the PLC historian. Many thanks to Monica and Rob for their effective leadership and to ESL colleagues for their continued participation in Centennial’s Professional Learning Community.
PLC Meeting held on: February 28, 2017
This was the first PLC meeting in the pursuit of identifying writing expectations and developing writing strategies through classroom research for current and future ESL curriculum.
Garden Grove Adult School joined the team of 15 instructors to discuss writing. In this first meeting, we discussed briefly different standards including CASAS and the College and Career Readiness Standards. We compared our current curriculum with that of Garden Grove and met in groups of different levels of ESL to identify what was already happening in the classroom.
The discussions led to seeking common language when identifying sentences and paragraphs in student writing. The group agreed that a continuum approach is essential when writing curriculum where students at each level need review of structures and skills of previous levels. It was discussed how paragraphs may start in lower levels as loosely connected sentences from a model and progress at higher levels to more controlled and substantive writings.
It was also discussed how knowing where in adult education students might go after leaving ESL programs was essential.
Welcome to our PLC page. This year we will be moving more quickly through the steps so we can incorporate stategies in the classroom, assess them, and return and share. The meeting dates for Spring are:
May 1st, 15, 29
Room A – 114 at 1 PM
I encourage you to attend all the meetings, but I do understand that schedules are challenging and if you can’t attend them all, feel free to attend the ones you can. You will earn flex or non-instructional rate for each two-hour meeting.
The PLC will be discussing ESL curriculum and strategies, but all comers are welcome. In fact we encourage you to come to see what potentially can be done in any discipline.
It has seemed to me as I have attended training on PLC’s and have listened and tried to understand how to apply the principles, that understanding the distinction between teaching and learning is crucial. If I plan a professional development event and teachers attend to learn teaching strategies, are they learning to teach better or are they learning to help their students learn better? I have slowly understood the difference, but can’t say I can grasp it totally. At first I thought it was a state of mind, but now I realize that is more than that. It seems to be how we approach our students. Do we react to them and change our methods and processes based on how they are learning, or do we boldly and continually teach the same concepts in the same way and get similar results every time. I believe I am a good teacher. Does that mean I can ever be satisfied with my performance? I say nay. A good teacher is more concerned about student outcomes than his or her performance. Are the students learning? A good teacher is also open to hear what other teachers are doing. It is only the arrogant who think they have all the answers no matter how good they are.
Richard Dufour in 2004 stated:
“To create a professional learning community, focus on learning rather than on teaching, work collaboratively, and hold yourself accountable for results.” (Richard Dufour, 2004)
He has also said:
In Hot Pursuit of the Wrong Questions
Eventually, after years as a principal, I realized that even though my efforts had been well intentioned—and even though I had devoted countless hours each school year to those efforts—I had been focusing on the wrong questions. I had focused on the questions, What are the teachers teaching? and How can I help them to teach it more effectively? Instead, my efforts should have been driven by the questions, To what extent are the students learning the intended outcomes of each course? and What steps can I take to give both students and teachers the additional time and support they need to improve learning?
This shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning is more than semantics. When learning becomes the preoccupation of the school, when all the school’s educators examine the efforts and initiatives of the school through the lens of their impact on learning, the structure and culture of the school begin to change in substantive ways. … teachers and students benefit when principals function as learning leaders rather than instructional leaders.
Richard Dufour (2002)
Let’s take the words of Dufour and apply them to our classes for a moment.
When learning becomes the preoccupation of the class, when the teacher examines the curriculum through the lens of its impact on learning, the structure and culture of the class begins to change in substantive ways. Teachers and students benefit when they function as learning leaders rather than instructional leaders.
Below is a chart I created that might help us see the difference between a teacher who is focusing on teaching and one who is focusing on learning.
|Instructional Presentations and Practice
|Instructional Presentations and Practice
|What Students Do with New Information
A Professional Learning Community or PLC has been defined in several different ways by several different people. The name may lead people to misunderstand what an effective PLC really is. Is it just a group of professionals sitting around and talking? Certainly you can call that a PLC if you wish, but the purpose of this effort at Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education is more aligned with what K-12 programs have done for years. It is a collaborative effort and process to improve “learning” by bringing the isolated teacher into a community, discussing strategies, unwrapping standards, and developing techniques based on classroom data that is also generated by the faculty.
The idea is to help teachers be part of the development of the curriculum and instructional practices where they have more of a stake in the outcomes. This process in itself is professional development and leads to additional professional development. To read more about Professional Learning Communities in K-12 programs, consider purchasing Building a Professional Learning Community at Work by Parry Graham and William M. Ferriter.
We at SAC SCE have just started an official Professional Learning Community . Our program is so large and so set in its processes and policies that first we had to study and review data related to PLC’s. In our community we have been discussing and testing some of the techniques that Richard Dufour has introduced. Richard Dufour is one of the pioneers of this movement in K-12. We are also following the efforts of programs that are currently establishing PLC’s in similar programs and we are seeking training from CALPRO as well.