Frequently Asked Questions About PLC Wednesdays
WHAT ARE PLC WEDNESDAYS?
The term PLC comes from the focus of our ongoing professional development on Professional Learning Communities. Wednesday is simply the day of week that teachers will be getting together to work on specific areas.
WHY DID THE SCHOOL CHANGE THE SCHEDULE TO INCLUDE PLC WEDNESDAYS?
In the process of shifting Boyden-Hull’s focus from teaching to learning, we have been working on four key questions for the past several years: 1) What is it we want students to learn? 2) How will we know if they have learned it? 3) How will we respond if they have not learned it? 4) How will we respond if they already know it? In order to answer these questions teachers need sustained time to collaborate with each other and to work both independently and together in figuring out how best to reach students to increase their learning.
WHY ARE PLCs IMPORTANT?
The idea of a professional learning community is important because of the power it can produce. The collective wisdom of all should be greater than the wisdom of one. This concept of collective wisdom is not new. Education has been slow to move towards teacher collaboration and creating collective wisdom. For years teacher isolation has been the norm that has been compounded by schedules that did not allow for sustained periods of collaboration. A concerted effort needed to be made to find time for educators to collaborate without losing student contact time. These collaborative sessions need to revolve around student learning and provide a time for teachers to share successes as well as those things that did not work as they had hoped. Collaboration of this sort is crucial to improving the overall learning environment within the district.
WHAT WILL BE DONE DURING THESE TIMES?
Three primary areas will be addressed during these times: 1) Curriculum mapping; 2) Data dissemination; 3) Student learning and teaching strategies. These times will not be simply for teachers to get together and talk; rather the time will be to engage in purposeful dialogue about what is happening in the classrooms (curriculum mapping and data dissemination) and how to create a more meaningful teaching impact to deepen the learning that is taking place. As we move further into the state standards and the 21st Century Learning Skills required by the state, time for collaboration among staff and between school districts will be vital to our success.
BY GETTING OUT AN HOUR EARLIER ON WEDNESDAY, AREN’T STUDENTS MISSING CLASS?
By starting ten minutes earlier each day and ending five minutes later, the contact time remains nearly the same with the exception of an additional ten minutes gained by starting Wednesdays at 8:20 as well.
WHY IS IT WEDNESDAY AND NOT ANOTHER DAY?
Wednesday was chosen because no evening school activities are scheduled as it is church night. That way, coaches will be available since they will not need to leave for a game. It is important for Boyden-Hull to have all of its teachers here for these times. The one downside to having it on a consistent basis is that a teacher we share with George-Little Rock will not be in attendance. However, we felt it was essential for families to have a schedule that was as consistent as possible.
WHY IS IT EVERY WEDNESDAY?
This was done to have consistency from week to week. We believed that it would be better to have the consistency rather than have parents wondering if this was a PLC Wednesday or not. This way the students will be dismissed early every Wednesday.
WHY IS IT IN THE AFTERNOON AND NOT THE MORNING?
Some of the reasons for this are: 1) We believed that it would be easier for parents who work to find a place for their child(ren) to go in the afternoon rather than the morning. 2) We notice that, overall, students are more alert and ready to learn in the morning than the afternoon.
HOW WILL STUDENTS BE TRANSPORTED?
The buses will run the regular routes just a little bit earlier in the mornings and a few minutes later on all weekdays except Wednesdays. On Wednesdays the afternoon bus routes will begin when students are dismissed at 2:25. For those students who participate in junior high activities, we will transport students to the school where their activities are taking place. The junior high students who are out for football may stay in the Hull commons in a study hall that is monitored. Students who are out for volleyball will ride the bus to Boyden, like they do every day for practice, and they will have a supervised study hall in the Boyden commons until it is time for practice to begin. We will not provide transportation other than we do on normal school days.
WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IF WE HAVE A LATE START OR EARLY DISMISSAL (WEATHER-RELATED OR SCHEDULED)?
We will have PLC Wednesdays on each Wednesday regardless if we have a late start or early dismissal, keeping our schedule consistent. If we have a late start due to weather on Wednesday we will still have a release time at 2:25.
HAVE WE SEEN ANY EARLY RESULTS THAT PLCs WORK?
Our elementary test scores in math were the highest on a consistent basis this past year. This is a good first step but the whole idea of PLCs does not come down to a single test. Rather it should rely on several things such as increased learning, sustainability, ongoing discussion between educators and, finally, an overall change in culture within the school district. One of the key areas is having teachers engage in constant dialogue about what is happening within their classrooms, their building and their district, and then being able and willing to share both their successes and shortcomings with others to create a better environment for all students.
IS THIS A PERMANENT CHANGE?
Knowing that in this process working parents may experience difficulties in scheduling with the early release on Wednesdays, this program will be evaluated on an ongoing basis and changes will be made to ensure that the time is spent as wisely as possible. We are entering this with the idea that PLC Wednesdays will be ongoing as long as they are meeting the established goals.