First Step…Change Nomenclature.

Professional Development – no, archaic. What does it connote? Do any of us want to be “developed?” Although that term is widely used- think about the perceptual component. To me, it assumes that there is something missing, so we better get “developed.”

At PLC Associates, we do not “develop” people. We learn together and engage, as colleagues in – professional learning. The language changes mindset – it connects to continuous improvement, ongoing learning, and as Stephen Covey discusses, the habit of “sharpening the saw.” (1) We know from a school improvement perspective; professional learning is a cornerstone of success.

In New York State, as an example, as part of the Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness (DTSDE) model, districts and schools are called upon to develop commitments and priorities that connect to professional habits of practice which are evidence-based. (2) Effective habits of practice rely on impactful, ongoing professional learning. Let’s elevate, in our districts and schools, professional learning, as the meaningful, necessary, dynamic, and powerful practice that allows us to engage in relevant activities wherein adult learning results in student success.


Three Startling Reflections
  1. How many workshops, conferences and meetings have you “sat through” without relevancy? How often do these activities make a difference at the classroom level?
  2. Do we, as a district or school, co-construct, with our teachers, professional learning aligned with evidence-based best practices? And, are we using metrics to make these decisions? (Remember- the “no guessing” rule.)
  3. Does the expenditure of funds for professional learning match the observable impact? Said differently, are we effectively utilizing resources for activities that make a difference? Can we prove it?


Now On To Entry Points…

We have heard the term, right? Esteemed Harvard Professor Dr. Howard Gardner has written extensively about entry points as related to the area of multiple intelligences and how students and adults, for that matter, all learn differently. Let’s apply the concept and address entry points from the context of entry points for professional practice.


Accurate Entry Points For Professional Learning…One Size does Not Fit All

Let the madness stop; that is, “one size fits all.” It is different for every group, both in terms of content and delivery methodologies. Using tools and metrics to determine what professional competencies are in place and what challenges we have creates an accurate pathway in designing relevant learning experiences.

Let’s co-construct this with our teachers and leaders. Hattie’s research on collective efficacy indicating an affect size of 1.57, stresses the point that composite expertise is a main driver of student success. (3) The co-constructing of professional learning must involve both those who are participating and those facilitating or delivering the material. Yes, this involves time upfront, but it changes the outcome from risking “it was a waste of time” to staff affirming that the activities made a difference in their knowledge and skill base.

High impact professional learning meets participants where there are and aligns to the high-quality teaching and learning practices that lead to improved student results. It is straight forward; but, are we really co-constructing? This is a great question to candidly ask. At PLC Associates, we utilize metrics that identify exactly where we are and then, together with staff, plan out and facilitate professional learning. Our Professional Reflection Learning Tool (PRLT) and Leveraged Leadership Inventory (LLI) provide a data set, working with teachers and leaders, to identify the path forward. These data points not only allow us to develop targeted professional learning- but we also use these measures to verify progress and results. Talk about revving up our school- this is exactly the data set that proves what we are doing, works. And isn’t that the ultimate outcome?


Start Using Entry Points That Are Metric Driven!

As a result, the district/school is no longer spending inordinate amounts of resources (time and financial) on low impact “development.” The benefit – having our amazing teachers and leaders leave sessions saying…” That is just what I needed!” Is this the mantra you are hearing in your school? To me, that is what really supports the magic that happens in the classroom and brilliance of high-performance at the school level.


(1) Stephen R. Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (2) New York State Department of Education (3) John Hattie Visible Learning


Accountability and School Improvement Experts:

PLC Associates Inc. is well-known for their capacity to engage in explicit diagnostics and provide reports and recommendations with the level of detail and specificity that leadership requires to move NYS schools into good standing and sustained high performance.

Currently, we are engaged in targeted, multi-year school turn-arounds and key initiatives with districts of all types across NYS.

Our range of survey tools and metrics:

  • Identify challenges, needs, and strengths in systems
  • Isolate points of entry for improvement plans, carefully considering leverage points
  • Create efficacy and results within the district or school.

We are ready, offering the supports needed for NYS DTSDE:

  • Surveys (Meets all Principles of the CR-S Framework)
  • Development of District and School Plans
  • Focus Forums and Data Cafes
  • Data Analysis and Needs Assessment
  • Determine Priorities and Commitments for improvement
  • Provide evidence-based strategies and professional learning
  • Monitoring and course correction

Take a look at our PLC Associates NYS DTSDE Accountability page and connect with us to learn more.

Accomplish Great Things in Your District

We work with you to close gaps, replicate best practices, and build high-impact, sustainable systems.

Let’s Chat About How We Can Help

Reach out to PLC Associates for a 15-minute solutions conversation.
Call us directly at 1-800-774-6801. We look forward to talking with you.