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Building a Foundation: The Four Pillars of a Professional Learning Community
MISSION,
VISION,
VALUES,
GOALS
Missoula County Public Schools
Six Essential Characteristics of a PLC
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




Shared mission, vision, values/collective
commitments, and goals
Collaborative teams focused on learning
Collective inquiry
Action orientation and experimentation
Commitment to continuous improvement
Results orientation
Objectives & Outcomes
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

To understand how school culture plays a crucial
role in the successful implementation of a PLC.
To gain a deeper understanding of the four pillars
of a Professional Learning Community:
 Mission,
Vision, Values/Collective Commitments and
Goals

To discuss how to incorporate the four pillars in
MCPS and at your school site.
Common Scenario
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
On the opening day of school Principal
Greatintentions assembled the entire staff to share
her enthusiasm for PLC’s and her plans for bringing
the concept to the school. She emphasized that she
was committed to transforming the school into a
PLC. The first step in the process was to develop a
new mission statement that captured the new focus
of the school. She presented the following draft to
the staff and invited their reaction…
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It is our mission to ensure all our
students acquire the knowledge
and skills essential to achieving
their full potential and becoming
productive citizens.
After the principal’s presentation
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
The teachers and counselors challenged the mission
statement. They argued…..
 student
learning is dependent upon student’s ability and
effort
 “ensuring” all students will learn places too much
accountability on teachers
 there is too much emphasis on academics and not
enough on emotional well-being
Revised Mission Statement
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It is our mission to give each
student the opportunity to learn
according to his or her ability
and to create a school that is
attentive to the emotional
needs of every student.
After time…
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

Principal Greatintentions remained hopeful that the
revised mission statement would inspire new effort
and commitment from the staff. However, there was
virtually no evidence that this new mission had
impacted either teacher practice or student
achievement. After months of trying to implement
PLC at her school site her efforts were unsuccessful.
Reflection- Turn to your elbow partner and discuss:
 Why
do you think her efforts were not successful?
 What should she have done differently?
School Culture
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

If we think of “school culture” as involving, at least
in part, “how we do things around here,” then we
need to consider two key questions:
How are things done in a professional learning
community?
What cultural shifts need to occur if our District
and our schools are to become professional
learning communities?
Four Types of Schools/Districts
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
District/School#1 Charles Darwin
We believe all kids can learn…based on their ability.....

District/School #2 Pontius Pilate
We believe all kids can learn…if they take advantage of the
opportunity we give them to learn.....
Activity- Four School Types
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
District/School #3 Chicago Cub
Fan
We believe all kids can learn…something,
and we will help all students
experience growth in a warm and
nurturing environment.....

District/School#4 Henry Higgins
We believe all kids can learn…and we
will work to help all students achieve
high standards of learning.....
Revised Mission Statement
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It is our mission to give each
student the opportunity to learn
according to his or her ability
and to create a school that is
attentive to the emotional
needs of every student.
Reading
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




“Make the Words of Mission Statement
Come to Life” by Rick Du Four
Read the article
As you read underline any words or
phrases that stand out to you
Protocol: Give one, Get one
When you hear the signal move on to
share with another person
Review… All kids can learn
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


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1. We believe all kids can learn based on their
ability.
2. We believe all kids can learn if they take
advantage of the opportunity to learn.
3. We believe all kids can learn and we accept
responsibility for ensuring their growth.
4. We believe all kids can learn and we will
establish high standards of learning that we expect all
students to achieve.
We Believe All Kids Can Learn Based on
their Ability
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We believe that all students can learn, but the extent of
their learning is determined by their innate ability or
aptitude. This aptitude is relatively fixed and, as
teachers, we have little influence over the extent of
student learning.
It is our job to create multiple programs or tracks that
address the different abilities of students and then
guide students to the appropriate program. This
ensures that students have access to the proper
curriculum and an optimum opportunity to master
material appropriate to their ability.
We believe all kids can learn if they take
advantage of the opportunity to learn
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We believe that all students can learn if they elect to
put forth the necessary effort.
It is our job to provide all students with this opportunity
to learn, and we fulfill our responsibility when we try
to present lessons that are both clear and engaging.
In the final analysis, however, while it is our job to teach, it
is the student's job to learn. We should invite students to
learn, but honor their decision if they elect not to do so.
We believe all kids can learn and we will accept
responsibility for ensuring their growth
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We believe that all students can learn and that it is our
responsibility to help each student demonstrate growth
as a result of his or her experience with us.
The extent of the growth will be determined by a
combination of the student's innate ability and effort.
It is our job to encourage all students to learn as much
as possible, but the extent of their learning is
dependent on factors over which we have little control.
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We believe all kids can learn and we will establish
high standards of learning that we expect all
students to achieve
We believe that all students can and must learn at
relatively high levels of achievement.
It is our job to create an environment in our classrooms
that results in this high level of performance.
We are confident that with our support and help,
students can master challenging academic material,
and we expect them to do so.
We are prepared to work collaboratively with
colleagues, students, and parents to achieve this
shared educational purpose.
Core Beliefs
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
All Kids Can Learn- What does that mean?
Take a piece of paper and write on it all the “if
only” disclaimers you have heard others say
 Example:
All kids can learn if only… they came from
supportive families
 All kids can learn if only…..
If Only Statements……
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


Indicate set levels of expectations for certain
students without knowing their capabilities
Disregard student potential for learning if given the
right support and time
Not within our sphere of influence and control
Impacting student learning in a professional
learning community.....
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Uncontrollable Variables
Children cannot…
Controllable Variables
A school culture in which
collaborative teams develop…
pick their parents.
pick where they live.
a school and classroom culture of caring
and encouragement.
a guaranteed, viable curriculum.
effective, research-based
pick the school they attend.
teaching strategies.
frequent, formative monitoring
pick their teachers.
of student learning.
additional time, support, and enrichment.
pick the high-stakes, summative
assessments.
frequent recognition and celebration
of improvement.
Variables WE control…
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Schools where collaborative teams develop…..
 A school and classroom culture of caring and
encouragement
 A guaranteed and viable curriculum
 Effective, research based teaching strategies
 Frequent, formative monitoring of student learning
 Additional time, support and enrichment
 Frequent recognition and celebration of
improvement
All Kids Can Learn
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“In today’s Information Age society, however, … it is
the purpose of schools to bring all students to their
full potential and to a level of education that was
once reserved for the very few… Only the fourth
school… offers a viable, modern-day response to
students who are not learning.”
-Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker (1998)
“Professional Learning Communities at Work”, p. 61
All Students Can Achieve
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
Leaving Nothing to Chance…..
 Breaking


the cycle of predictability
We need to believe all students can learn even if
all the obstacles are in place.
Have you ever had a student who…
 does
better in one class than the other?
 was in Special Ed and became proficient?
 was an English Learner and reclassified?
Objectives & Outcomes
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To understand how school culture plays a crucial
role in the successful implementation of a PLC.
 To gain a deeper understanding of the four pillars
of a Professional Learning Community:
 Mission,

Vision, Values and Values
To discuss how to incorporate the four pillars at your
school site.
Four Pillars- Foundation of a PLC
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MISSION
VISION
VALUES
GOALS
WHY?
Why do we
exist?
WHAT?
What must our
school become
to accomplish
our purpose?
HOW?
How must we
behave to
achieve our
vision?
HOW WILL WE
MARK OUR
PROGRESS?
FUNDAMENTAL
PURPOSE
COMPELLING
FUTURE
COLLECTIVE
COMMITMENTS
TARGETS &
TIMELINES
Clarifies
Priorities and
Sharpens Focus
Gives
Directions
Guides Behavior
Establishes
Priorities
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We would argue that it is impossible to
develop a results orientation unless we are
clear about the core of the enterprise
(mission), about the kind of school we’re
seeking to become (vision), and the attitudes,
behaviors and commitments we need to
promote, protect and defend (values).
-Du Four & Eaker
Four Pillars- Foundation of a PLC
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MISSION
VISION
VALUES
GOALS
WHY?
Why do we
exist?
WHAT?
What must our
school become
to accomplish
our purpose?
HOW?
How must we
behave to
achieve our
vision?
HOW WILL WE
MARK OUR
PROGRESS?
FUNDAMENTAL
PURPOSE
COMPELLING
FUTURE
COLLECTIVE
COMMITMENTS
TARGETS &
TIMELINES
Clarifies
Priorities and
Sharpens Focus
Gives
Directions
Guides Behavior
Establishes
Priorities
Mission
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


Why do we exist?
What is our fundamental purpose?
Clarifies priorities and sharpens focus
MISSION
Activity
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1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Each team member will need a piece of paper.
On the piece of paper, each team member will have few minutes to
write a statement regarding what they see as the purpose of MCPS.
(Why do we exist?). Don’t put your name on it because others will read
it. (2 minutes)
Pass the statement to the person on the right. Each person will underline
significant phrases or words.
Continue to pass the paper to the next person and keep passing the
paper until all papers go all the way around the table. You may
underline a word or phrase even if it is already underlined.
When you receive your own paper back, share with your group the
phrases that were underlined the most.
As a group decide on the top 5 words or phrases that were underlined
the most. Write each word or phrase on a post-it note and place them
on the chart labeled MISSION.
Mission
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

Clarity of purpose should be the goal of any
mission statement. Our “mission” gives focus to the
question, “Why do we exist?”
“Learning” is the primary purpose of a school that
functions as a professional learning community.
Schools exist because their mission is “learning”.
If Learning is our Primary Purpose….
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Critical Questions of a PLC
 What knowledge and skills should every student
learn as a result of this unit of instruction?
 How will we know when each student has acquired
the essential knowledge and skills?
 How will we respond when some students do not
learn?
 How will we extend and enrich the learning for
students who are already proficient?
Vision
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
Educators must move beyond writing a mission
statement to first clarifying the vision, values, and
goals that drive the daily workings of the school
and align all their practices accordingly.
Four Pillars- Foundation of a PLC
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MISSION
VISION
VALUES
GOALS
WHY?
Why do we
exist?
WHAT?
What must our
school become
to accomplish
our purpose?
HOW?
How must we
behave to
achieve our
vision?
HOW WILL WE
MARK OUR
PROGRESS?
FUNDAMENTAL
PURPOSE
COMPELLING
FUTURE
COLLECTIVE
COMMITMENTS
TARGETS &
TIMELINES
Clarifies
Priorities and
Sharpens Focus
Gives
Directions
Guides Behavior
Establishes
Priorities
Vision Statement Questions
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



What do we want to see our school become?
What do we imagine regarding student
achievement?
What contributions would we make to our students,
and community?
What would we want our reputation to be?
Reading- A Shared Vision
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Leading Learning Communities
Vision Statements
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You are in a helicopter and you are flying over your
ideal school, Dream Elementary School or Dream
Middle School
 What would you see?
 How would people work together?
 What would it look like if everyone believed all
students can achieve?
Brainstorming Vision Statements
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


Draw a visual representation of your Dream School.
Include all of the components you think are needed
to ensure all students have the best opportunities for
success.
Write a Vision Statement that sums up the beliefs of
your Dream School.
Vision- A Compelling Future
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Gallery Walk
Lunch Time
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Our work will resume promptly at 12:30
Four Pillars- Foundation of a PLC
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MISSION
VISION
VALUES
GOALS
WHY?
Why do we
exist?
WHAT?
What must our
school become
to accomplish
our purpose?
HOW?
How must we
behave to
achieve our
vision?
HOW WILL WE
MARK OUR
PROGRESS?
FUNDAMENTAL
PURPOSE
COMPELLING
FUTURE
COLLECTIVE
COMMITMENTS
TARGETS &
TIMELINES
Clarifies
Priorities and
Sharpens Focus
Gives
Directions
Guides Behavior
Establishes
Priorities
Values: Guide Behaviors
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What changes in our behavior need to
take place to advance our Vision?
 Collective Commitments



They are our attitudes and behaviors that we
must demonstrate in order to create the
school of our vision
They are our observable actions
Creating Collective Commitments
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



Limit the number (5 or 6)
Make the actions specific
Do not include beliefs that are open to
interpretation and difficult to monitor
Describe clear expectations about what each
person WILL do now (specific behaviors)
Sample Values-Collective Commitments
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Vision Statement: Every teacher, parent, and student
is clear on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions
students are expected to acquire in each course,
grade level, and unit of instruction.

Collective Commitment #1: Each grade level will
distribute monthly newsletters to inform parents and
students of progress in ELA and math.
 Collective Commitment #2: Teachers will unwrap
priority standards during their grade level meetings to
plan instruction based on specific skills and concepts.

You Try
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The learning of each student is monitored on a
timely basis. When students experience difficulty, the
school has structures in place to ensure they receive
additional time and support for learning.

Each
teacher will administer at least two common
formative assessments before each district benchmark.
Teachers will provide intervention after school for six
weeks on a targeted concept.
Prioritizing Collective Commitment
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1.
2.
Use a quadrant chart to prioritize the ideas of the
group.
High Impact, High Probability
High Impact, Low Probability
Low Impact, High Probability
Low Impact, Low Probability
Write the collective commitments on a piece of paper
and have everyone sign and date it.
Four Pillars- Foundation of a PLC
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MISSION
VISION
VALUES
GOALS
WHY?
Why do we
exist?
WHAT?
What must our
school become
to accomplish
our purpose?
HOW?
How must we
behave to
achieve our
vision?
HOW WILL WE
MARK OUR
PROGRESS?
FUNDAMENTAL
PURPOSE
COMPELLING
FUTURE
COLLECTIVE
COMMITMENTS
TARGETS &
TIMELINES
Clarifies
Priorities and
Sharpens Focus
Gives
Directions
Guides Behavior
Establishes
Priorities
Goals
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How will we mark our progress?
 Targets and timelines
 Establish priorities

GOALS
What are SMART Goals?
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Strategic and specific
Measurable
Attainable
Results-oriented
Time-bound
SMART Examples
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


Students who have attended District 54 schools for
one year will read at grade level upon entering
third grade.
At least 90% percent of all students will meet or
exceed standards in reading and math as measured
by both district and state assessments.
During the 2008-09 school year, non-proficient
students will improve their vocabulary skills by 5%
each trimester as measured by an increase in the
ITBS vocabulary assessment.
SMART Goals
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
Things to remember when writing SMART Goals
 Goals
should be consistent with mission, vision, and
collective commitments
 Goals should meet SMART Goals criteria, if not rewrite
 School SMART Goals can be written with
 whole
staff
 leadership team with staff approval

Templates are available online at
http://www.allthingsplc.info/
Four Pillars- Foundation of a PLC
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

Please put your materials away and sort the cards
into the Four Pillars
Each column should have 5 cards:
 Term
 Definition
 Description
 Guiding
 Example
Question
Four Pillars- Foundation of a PLC
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MISSION
VISION
VALUES
GOALS
WHY?
Why do we
exist?
WHAT?
What must our
school become
to accomplish
our purpose?
HOW?
How must we
behave to
achieve our
vision?
HOW WILL WE
MARK OUR
PROGRESS?
FUNDAMENTAL
PURPOSE
COMPELLING
FUTURE
COLLECTIVE
COMMITMENTS
TARGETS &
TIMELINES
Clarifies
Priorities and
Sharpens Focus
Gives
Directions
Guides Behavior
Establishes
Priorities
Final Quick-write
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1.What is the value of this process?
2. Which activities would you find valuable to replicate
with the staff?
3. How do you see your school getting to the place where
you have a mission, vision, value/collective commitment
and goals that everyone in your school will share?
Objectives & Outcomes
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To understand how school culture plays a crucial
role in the successful implementation of a PLC.
To gain a deeper understanding of the four pillars
of a Professional Learning Community:
Mission, Vision, Values and Values
To discuss how to incorporate the four pillars at your
school site.
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Mission, Vision, Values, Goals