Message from the Dean - September 2013

Professional Learning Communities

As we continue to operationalize our Strategic Plan, we want to focus this year on creating Professional Learning Communities in each department. Ideally, we want every faculty member in the College of Education to be a participant of a PLC pertaining to either teaching, scholarship or service. Listed below is DuFour's definition of a PLC, the intent of PLCs as school enhancement opportunities and the four corollary questions.

"A Professional Learning Community is a collaboration of teachers, administrators, parents and students who work together to seek out best practices, test them in the classroom, continuously improve processes and focus on results.” - Rick DuFour, 2002.

Rick DeFour sees PLCs as schools that have an entirely different mindset when compared to the “traditional” school system. To him, the biggest change is the shift from “ensuring our students are taught” to “ensuring our students learn.” When the school opens up to the idea that, as a community, everyone is responsible and accountable for the success of every student, then everybody succeeds and the students learn.

Four Corollary Questions

Rick DeFour lists these questions as guidelines for PLCs in their goal of student learning:

  • What should students know and be able to do as a result of this course, class or grade level?
  • How will we know that the students are not learning?
  • How do we respond when students do not learn?
  • How do we respond when students learn more?

As you engage in your PLC, I encourage you to begin with essential questions to guide your learning. To jumpstart the Professional Learning Community initiative for the year, the Dean's Office is providing incentives to join one of two communities that will also move us forward with our strategic intent pertaining to cultural and technological competency. The two PLCs are outlined below.

Cultural Competency Curriculum Incentive Grants - Stephanie Logan

Participants in this PLC will receive a $500 stipend or professional development funds to complete 20 hours of professional development with Dr. Ros Carroll and Dr. Barbara Shin. These noted experts in the theory and pedagogy of cultural competency will help participants tailor their syllabi to be more inclusive of the tenets of culturally-responsive pedagogy. If you are interested, Dr. Logan will provide you specific dates and information. We are seeking 20 faculty members to participate in this professional learning community.

Technology Integration Incentive Grants - Farah Kashef and Leigh Zeitz

Participants in this PLC will receive a $500 stipend or professional development funds to complete 20 hours of professional development with Farah Kashef, our new Technology Integration Specialist. The purpose of this PLC is to learn how to integrate technology into your courses that enriches the content and pedagogy. A part of the 20 hours will include site visits to PreK-12 schools that are successfully integrating technology, tailored sessions to enhance technology integration and whole group discussions and workshops on current and emerging technological and pedagogical practices. The outcome of this PLC will be a revised syllabus of a course that will be taught in the fall of 2014. This syllabus would be robust with technology integration. If you are interested, contact Farah Kashef or Leigh Zeitz.

I am excited about these new initiatives and the launching of Professional Development Communities in the College of Education. If you have an idea for creating a PLC, please submit to your department head so that he or she can support your material needs. Again, our aspiration is that each department establishes a PLC and that all faculty members participate in at least one PLC throughout the year. Any faculty member can establish a PLC and does not necessarily have to participate in the one established by his or her department.