NCOSP Tools

PLC Observation Guide (PLCOG)

The Professonal Learning Community Observation Guide is a tool to help educational communities build and deepen a shared understanding of what it means to work effectively as a professional learning community. The Guide, structured around three key elements of effective PLCs, can be used as a tool for self- monitoring a PLCs development.

This tool is part of a suite of three tools, Science Classroom Observation Guide, Supporting Student Success Guide, and Professional Learning Community Observation Guide, designed to promote reflective discussions of institutional and instructional practices which will lead to continuous improvements in student learning.

A. Introducing the Professional Learning Community Observation Guide (PLCOG)

The Professional Learning Community Observation Guide (PLCOG) will help groups build and deepen a shared understanding of what it means to work effectively as a PLC, and will provide a meaningful tool for self-monitoring a PLC's development. This guide can help foster open communication among group members so that they develop common norms, vision, and goals.

This guide is part of a suite of three tools developed by the North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership, the Science Classroom Observation Guide the Supporting Student Success Guide and the Professional Learning Community Observation Guide. These tools were designed to promote reflective discussions of institutional and instructional practices which will lead to continuous improvements in student understanding.

Note: The 'Note Taking Edition' can be copied as a pdf, or downloaded as an electronic template.

Purpose: This PowerPoint and accompanying documents can be used to introduce a group to the PLC Observation Guide and can help groups develop a shared understanding of an effective professional learning community.

Description: In the presentation, groups will use video clips and guided discussion to practice using the PLC Observation Guide.

The PLCOG can be used independently to support professional learning communities' growth and development.

Preparation Time: 1 hr 30 min

Presentation Time: 2 hrs

Resources:

B. Putting the Professional Learning Communities Observation Guide into Practice

The tools in this section can be used by practicing professional learning communities to improve their effectiveness as a team.

Description:

The PLC Cycle Poster is a helpful reference for teams working through a PLC cycle.

There are two PLC Reflection Tools. Both can be used by PLC members to reflect on the elements of professional learning community evident in their work. One, the PLC Reflection Tool, can be used at each meeting to help the group focus on a particular area for improvement. The Extended Version can be used periodically to monitor improvements across the board.

The PLC Observation Tool can be used by an outside observer of PLC to provide the group with feedback.

The Seven Stages of Professional Learning Teams identifies specific characteristics in the developmental stages of PLCs. This tool also provides guidance for a team's focus and interactions as they seek to improve their practices.

Resources:

C. Elements of a Professional Learning Community (PLC)

Description: Professional learning communities are more than just a group of educators conducting a meeting. Effective PLCs reflect a set of research-based characteristics, and their members embrace particular habits of mind. Understanding and enacting these five elements results in improved interactions among educators and improved results for students:

  • Shared norms and values
  • Collective focus on student learning
  • Collaboration
  • Deprivatizated practice
  • Reflective dialogue

Resources:
  • Garmston, Robert J. and Wellman, Bruce M. The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishing,1999. pp. 17-19.

  • DuFour, R. and Eaker, R. Professional Learning Communities at Work. Bloomington, IN:National Educational Service, 1998.

  • Professional Learning Communities Website

  • Link to the PLC Observation Guide (web).

D. Behaviors of Effective Group Members

Description: An effective facilitator is only one ingredient in a collaborative group. Group members must also develop their skills and become effective contributors as well. When group members themselves are knowledgeable and skilled, the group is able to develop a shared purpose and make informed decisions.

Resources:
  • Garmston, Robert J. and Wellman, Bruce M. The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups. Norwood, MA:Christopher-Gordon Publishing, 1999. pp. 33-47, 51-61, 89.

E. Skills and Settings that Facilitate Learning

Description: For workshops, classes, seminars, or meetings to be effective, the facilitator must attend to both the physical environment as well as the interactions among participants occurring minute by minute. The goal is to create an emotional, cognitive, and physical environment that matches the intended learning experience and minimizes barriers that may inhibit participation and learning.

Resources:
  • Garmston, Robert J. and Wellman, Bruce M. The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups. Norwood, MA:Christopher-Gordon Publishing, 1999. pp. 71-76, 105-131, Glossary of Facilitation Skills, xviii-xx.

  • Garmston, Robert J. and Wellman, Bruce M. How to make presentations that Teach and Transform. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1992.

F. Four Hats of Leadership

Description: In adaptive schools, leadership is shared. Administrators, teachers, and support staff must have the knowledge and skills to recognize their changing roles or "hats of leadership." When all parties understand the distinction among the major functions of leadership they can effect change.

The Four Hats of Leadership are Coaching, Consulting, Facilitation, and Presentation. Understanding each 'stance' can help an individual develop competence, confidence, and flexibility as a leader.

Facilitation: An approach used to direct the process used in a meeting, maintaining focus on one content area and one process at a time.

Presentation: An approach used to extend and enrich knowledge, skills, or attitudes and to enable these to be used in a team's work.

Coaching: An approach used to help another take action toward his or her goals.

Consulting: Applying expertise as an information specialist or an advocate for content and/or process.

The PowerPoint presentations are designed to help groups understand these different but overlapping roles and apply them in their PLC setting.

Below, you will find three presentations on the Four hats of leadership along with accompanying documents for each.

Resources:
  • Garmston, R. and Wellman, B. "The Adaptive School Syllabus." El Dorado Hills, CA: Four Hats Seminars, 1998.

  • Garmston, Robert J. and Wellman, Bruce M. The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishing, 1999. p. 27.

G. Introduction to the Four Hats and Facilitation

Description: The first of three associated Powerpoint presentations, this is an introduction to the Four Hats of Leadership with a focus on Facilitation. This presentation includes information used to direct a meeting, maintaining focus on one content area and one process at a time.

Note: The three PowerPoint presentations in these sections rely on the Garmston and Wellman book The Adaptive School. Use of this book is necessary for the content and processes of these presentations. In the same manner as the National Research Council’s How People Learn informed our reasoning around pedagogy, The Adaptive School has informed our work in the area of Leadership Development. The text was used widely in our project and positively affected our practice.

Preparation Time: 1 hr

Presentation Time: 90 min

Resources:

I. The Four Hats - Coaching and Consulting

Description: The third of three associated PowerPoint presentations on the Four Hats of Leadership, this focuses on both Coaching and Consulting. Included here is information on an approach to help another take action toward his or her goals (coaching), and applying expertise as an information specialist or an advocate for content and/or process (consulting).

Preparation Time: 1 hr

Presentation Time: 90 min

Resources: