A simple framework for your PLC

​Professional Learning Community (PLC) Regional Manager Shane Lockhart explores ways you can identify and set goals, develop plans and monitor their effect to change the way your school operates and supports students.

The Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) is the tool teachers can use to identify, map and measure the work they do to support better education in the classroom.

Shane Lockhart is a Regional Manager for the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) program, and shows schools that by using the FISO model in your PLC, you can bring all the collective efforts of your school onto the same page and reduce the workload needed to ensure this fits within your school's broader strategic plan.

'The Framework for Improving Student Outcomes is the same process that's used within the Annual Implementation Plan, so it's smart to use it within the classroom context, your PLCs, your units and your actual class teaching,' explains Shane.

Making practical sense of the FISO improvement cycle

Evaluate and diagnose individual needs

Teachers, PLCs and school improvement teams can look at individual classes or trends across the whole school where they have a wide gap in student achievement and learning.

Shane shows us that when you identify these areas, they may be perfect for teachers to apply a differentiated teaching strategy in these lessons or they may indicate that the strategies and approaches in place are not suited to your school.

'Ask yourselves what evidence do you have to indicate that [any given problem] is not just an issue, but a priority? There's a whole range of data sources you can draw upon including AIPs, but also your own classroom data sets and assessments,' Shane notes.

'Second, ask yourself if you have you been here before? If so, what did you do and what can you do differently this time?'

'And I think that's a really important question, because we don't want to be repeating differentiated approaches or any approaches where we have tried them once before and we've had a bit of a lacklustre result.'

Setting goals for teachers and students based on their individual learning objectives and development plans

Following an understanding of what your students' and your own needs are, teachers can feel confident in setting clear goals for their classes, subject areas or at a school-level with their leadership team.

Practically, this could mean developing and planning reasonable adjustments to your lessons, delivering a differentiated lesson and monitoring whether students experience challenge, success and growth relevant to their need. Alternatively, it could mean exploring a new or different teaching approach in line with your goals.

'Set goals and ask yourself: "how will you prioritise this area?" You may already have AIP targets that can align or a PLC strategy,' says Shane.

'It's not about creating anything new, it's about working with the situation at hand so that we work smarter not harder.'

'Finally, try and write down how will you ensure your goals suit your specific context and current level of practice. What will success look like? And what are the indicators or measures of success that you will establish as a positive effect on student learning outcomes?'

Developing and planning lessons or new ways of working

With clear goals in mind for what students and staff are wanting to achieve, teachers can plan individual lessons over the course of a term or attend professional learning; as well as develop the levels of differentiation to support individual student needs.

'Develop your plan, and write it down clearly,' Shane explains.

'Explain what actions you as an individual teacher, or a PLC, or a whole school will use to apply the plan and when.'

'This is where SMART goals come in to play; because some things might be immediate, but there are other things that might need three, six, twelve months to eventuate.'

Implement your plans and monitor successes and challenges

When your start delivering your lessons, always record your students' or your own achievement through formative or summative assessment and look at whether the approach you've prioritised is showing success in the classroom.

Students may respond differently to lessons where teachers have differentiated the cognitive load through the content, process or product, and it's important to understand what is most successful in your individual circumstances.

Similarly, you may see that your original plans for your PLC may change over time. It is important reflect openly and honestly against your goals and assess whether your approaches needs amending or is effective in supporting students of all abilities to improve in some way.

'Think how will you share your learning and challenges – between schools, again communities of practice, PLCs, FISO groups, and principal groups, leading literacy groups or instructional leader groups meeting – they are all good avenues to be able to have those conversations,' asks Shane.

'Because what we're wanting to do is achieve consistency within the school but also across the system.'

A practical guide to professional learning communities

The PLC guide to using the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes improvement cycle, exists to support teachers to make changes to your school's curriculum, pedagogy and assessment in line with Shane's above examples.