7.

Do you feel the current funding level for Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) in our District budget is adequate? What is your view of the value of PLC’s? What are you planning to do to enhance PLC opportunities for our teachers in the future?

Answers: 
Ty Alper

Well-designed PLCs that give teachers sufficient time and space to initiate their own pedagogic inquiries have enormous potential to improve classroom instruction, and are well worth the resources they require. I am particularly drawn to the Mills Teacher Scholars model of PLCs (and I have written about the Mills program here: http://bit.ly/1u0RNe3), because they are initiated by the teacher and seek to address inquiries that emerge from the classroom. PLCs that are more about teaching teachers compliance, or about using data that has been forced on districts by state or federal governmental actors, are less useful, in my opinion.

If the District is going to truly invest in PLCs that help inform instruction and improve pedagogy, as it should, it must provide sufficient release time for teachers to participate and it must provide appropriate and meaningful facilitation to maximize the opportunities that well-run PLCs provide.

Josh Daniels

If done well, PLCs enable teachers to learn from each other and create a cultural and constant instructional improvement. The biggest challenge the District faces with PLCs is fidelity – i.e., whether PLCs are being fully implemented at all of our school sites. There are a many sites, particularly elementary school sites, that are utilizes PLCs extremely well. However, there are a number of sites that are not doing so.

During my time on the board, I have ensured that our professional development funds go support PLCs as well as other teacher support. Additionally, a single board member can also encourage the implementation of PLCs by raising the issue when the general issue of PD is discussed. For instance, at the April 30 board meeting I asked staff whether it would be more effective to do the cultural competence training through PLCs (like the CARE approach that has been utilized at Washington) as opposed to the three-day once-a-year approach proposed in the LCAP. Staff responded that the three-day once-a-year approach was to provide the baseline for on-going cultural competency training that would take place through site PLCs with the help of equity coaches.

As President of the board this year, I have attempted to develop a board president “PLC” with the board presidents of other school districts. While it is not as rigorous as the PLCs that occur in BUSD, I believe that the introspection required by the experience and the knowledge gained from other board presidents is important for my own grown as a board member.

Norma J F Harrison

See my discussion explaining that we are all teachers and students all our lives; that the people who know how to do things are doing them and need to be able to include community members, regardless of age, in the places – the work sites – where whatever it is THAT’S NECESSARY TO BE DONE is being done. These people have to keep up with the latest ways to repair a chair, to heal an illness, to gather shoes so someone can come in and buy a pair – all of which require reading and writing and thinking and calculating – for a few hours a week – 40 hours a week is NOT necessary to get the needed work done – especially with so many people available to do whatever work needs to be done.

These require changes to the rules of how we get together, how we fund ourselves as we do alternative living, what’s studied and how it’s done – I’ve described suggestions in my book, and implied ways in my flyer.

Karen Hemphill

One of the reasons, I am excited about our new Superintendent is his experience and commitment to professional development – particularly Professional Learning Committees. I believe collaboration is key to developing a great teaching and thus student learning environment. With Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and increased need for differential learning to meet the students of various learning levels as well as how to integrate socio-emotional curriculum, such as anti-bullying and conflict resolution, supporting PLCs and other teacher/classified staff training is key. While I believe that the District (and Board) is extremely committed to PLC’s I am interested in ideas of how the District can expand release time for professional development even more in a way that does not decrease classroom teaching time.

Julie Sinai

Professional Learning Communities offer collaboration time for teachers and other staff to come together to explore best practices and hone their skills. As one of the Board representatives to the BSEP Planning and Oversight Committee, I’ve been assessing BSEP and other revenues that contribute to our Professional Development budget. Our site administrators and teachers need to work together to make sure we have adequate time and opportunities for teachers to be engaged in PLC’s. I’d also like to see inclusion of our classified instructional staff in site-based PLCs.