The Essex Westford School District (EWSD) is committed to doing our best for all of our students and aligning with the most current, efficacious, research-based educational practices. To that end, we are aligning our work to and utilizing the Professional Learning Community (PLC) approach to assist us in achieving our vision which is:
“Growing hearts and minds, for a better today and tomorrow: every day, every way, every one”
The very essence of a learning community is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student. When a school or district functions as a PLC, educators within the organization embrace high levels of learning for all students as both the reason the organization exists and the fundamental responsibility of those who work within it.
In order to achieve this purpose, the members of a PLC create and are guided by a clear and compelling vision of what the organization must become in order to help all students learn. They make collective commitments that clarify what role each member has in such an organization, and they use results-oriented goals to mark their progress. In a professional learning community, all instructional personnel work together to:
- Clarify exactly what all students must learn
- Monitor every student’s learning on a timely and regular basis
- Provide systematic interventions that ensure students receive additional time and support for learning when they have difficulty
- Extend and enrich learning when students have mastered the essential standards and proficiencies
It is sometimes helpful to think of a PLC as the larger organization (Essex Westford School District) rather than the individual teams that comprise it. Collaborative teams are an essential part of, or the building blocks, of the PLC process. Much of the work of a PLC cannot be done by only one team but instead requires a school-wide or district-wide effort to align practices and clarify roles and responsibilities.
The PLC process has an inescapable and ongoing positive impact on the organization and culture of the school community. We are coordinating resources to this end, as we believe this investment will help us reach our priorities. We hold this belief with a well-proven research backing.
After synthesizing over 800 meta-analyses on the factors that impact student achievement, well known educational researcher John Hattie urges schools to function as Professional Learning Communities. Another highly respected educational researcher, Robert Marzano, came to a similar conclusion when he described the PLC concept as “one of the most powerful initiatives for school improvement and growth that I have seen in the last decade.”
In Essex Westford, we are proud to align with and work toward these educational systemic ideals and are grateful for the community’s support as we collectively work toward achieving our vision.
Jackie Ramsay-Tolman M.Ed C.A.G.S., EWSD Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment