Delaware Educators Provide Feedback on PLCs
The Delaware Department of Education recently released the 2012-2013 Professional Learning Community Participant Survey Report. This second annual report gauges educators’ thoughts on PLCs, such as confidence in PLCs, the significance of administrator presence, and the value of using data to make instructional decisions. The statewide Professional Learning Community Initiative is a signature part of Delaware’s Race to the Top Plan. The plan requires that core content teachers in all schools meet for 90 minutes each week to improve opportunities for collaboration between educators on lesson planning, instructional strategies, and data-drive decision-making.
Overall, in comparison to last year, educators gave higher reviews to their shared planning time and revealed that they have greater confidence in their ability to use data. Despite these improvements, the survey also revealed areas that are still in need of development. Understanding the value educators place on PLCs and how this time can be altered and improved is essential as this year marks the second and final year of statewide support for data coaches, and since they are a crucial planning period for teachers as implementation of Common Core begins.
This year’s survey shows an increase in agreement rates on PLC culture, data coach feedback, and the impact of PLCs on educators’ confidence in using data to inform instructional practices. Despite this positive feedback, only about 70% of teachers agreed that PLCs help them develop useful skills around collection and use of data. Although this increased from 63% last year, these responses demonstrate that while there is a comfortable and collaborative atmosphere in Delaware’s PLCs, there are opportunities for improvements in helping teachers develop skills around the collection and use of data that will be useful for them moving forward.
The report also highlighted areas for suggested improvements. Suggestions included revising the structure of PLCs to include more time for collaborative lesson planning and resource sharing, and more flexibility within meeting times. The results also indicated the need for more transparent and collaborative PLCs, including increased involvement and buy-in. Although there are still improvements to be made, the survey demonstrated the weaknesses as identified by Delaware’s educators, and how these could be remedied as districts move forward this coming year.
A strong foundation was created through the work of the PLCs within the last two years, and with the help of teacher-leaders, PLCs can continue to be successful, while also responding to the improvements for which educators are proposing. Delaware educators have indicated that their shared planning time has been helpful in informing instructional practices. This planning time will help facilitate peer learning opportunities and will be especially crucial as teachers work to share resources in order to successfully implement Common Core. We hope that time spent in PLCs has helped facilitate a comfortable and collaborative atmosphere that can be sustained moving forward, while also evolving to meet the needs of teachers. As we head into this year, we are excited to see how schools and districts choose to engage for continued improvement.