Rick DuFour’s Professional Learning Community was developed at Adlai E. Stevenson High School District 125. This district had high-performing systems to run the district. The district was able to recruit the best of the best to run the systems outside of instruction. At this district, DuFour was able to focus on instructional leadership. Many superintendents and building-level administration wear many hats. We have to be very dynamic leaders and improve multiple systems outside of instruction. This playbook is an overarching system to support systems like PLC’s. Although the verbiage is similar, it is different. Rick DuFour’s PLC’s utilize SMART goals, mission, vision, and commitments. They surely did not come up with those ideas or concepts. They enhanced them.
Inherent to a PLC is a persistent disquiet with the status quo and a constant search for a better way to achieve goals and accomplish the organization’s purpose. Systematic processes engage each member of the organization in an ongoing cycle of:
- Gathering evidence of current levels of student learning
- Developing strategies and ideas to build on strengths and address weaknesses in that learning
- Implementing those strategies and ideas
- Analyzing the impact of the changes to discover what was effective and what was not
- Applying new knowledge in the next cycle of continuous improvement
The goal of PLC’s is not simply to learn a new strategy but instead to create conditions for a perpetual learning environment in which innovation and experimentation are viewed not as tasks to be accomplished or projects to be completed but as ways of conducting day-to-day business—forever. Furthermore, participation in this process is not reserved for those designated as leaders; rather, it is the responsibility of every member of the organization. With the GoCycle system a leader can model goal setting and work shoulder to shoulder with their staff, direct reports, and supervisors.
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