Preparing for PLCs

Key questions, strategies and supporting resources for school leaders, instructional leaders and teachers to lay the foundations for creating and sustaining effective professional learning communities (PLCs).

Challenge the status quo

Key questions
  1. What does student outcome data tell us about learning growth in our school?
  2. How effective are our current practices?
  • Use the PLC maturity matrix to self-assess against key PLC elements and involve staff in this process.
  • Collect evidence to identify current gaps or areas for further development in student achievement.
  • Develop a preliminary plan for the work of the PLC.
  • Identify how school teams will operate differently as a PLC.
Supporting resources

Communicate a vision

Key questions
  1. What is the purpose of our PLC?
  2. What values, practices and behaviours should we have as a school?
  • Collaborate to develop a statement of purpose to guide the cultural shift to the PLC model.
  • Ask individual PLCs to develop a statement of purpose for their work.
  • Ensure all visions are aligned.
  • Create a plan with clear steps to ensure that the vision is met.
  • Communicate the vision to the whole-school community.
  • Involve PLC instructional leaders in creating a vision for the PLC.
Supporting resources

Structure for change

Key questions
  1. How will we structure our PLCs to optimise staff and student learning?
  2. How will we privilege time for teachers to meet?
  • Discuss various PLC structures with senior education improvement leaders (SEILs).
  • Where appropriate, consider pre-existing structures at the school and whether some may be retained alongside the PLCs.
  • Review the current school meeting schedule to create privileged, sequestered time for PLCs to meet and work.
  • Consider sample timetables from PLC schools that include privileged time during the school day and after school.
  • Publish a PLC meeting schedule.
Supporting resources

Strategic planning online tool (SPOT)  

Build trust

Key questions
  1. How will we build trust in a PLC?
  2. How can we build a commitment to the processes and systems?
  • Use staff survey data or conduct a staff opinion survey on their perceptions of trust in professional relationships and systems.
  • Openly share failures and challenges as well as successes.
  • Select trusted leaders to be PLC instructional leaders.
  • Illustrate the value of the PLC model to teachers by discussing Victorian and international case studies.
Supporting resources

Empower instructional leaders

Key questions
  1. What is the work of a PLC instructional leader and who will best fill these roles?
  2. How can PLC instructional leaders be empowered to lead the work?
  • Invite reflection on different models of leadership and identify those most consistent with a PLC.
  • Define and assign PLC roles and responsibilities.
  • Map out and draw on the expertise within the team to create a whole-school approach to the Victorian Teaching and Learning Model.
  • Organise professional learning for PLC instructional leaders.
Supporting resources

Monitor impact

Key questions
  1. How will we monitor the impact of PLC work on student learning progress?
  2. How will we support teachers if PLC work is not achieving its expected impact?
  • Conduct regular update meetings with other school leaders and instructional leaders on PLC progress, using data.
  • Establish shorter inquiry cycles so that the efficacy of PLC intervention can be monitored more closely.
  • Consult teachers, students and parents to gauge the impact of PLCs.
  • Use the goals of the PLC to maintain accountability.
  • Prompt and support PLC decisions to adopt or change evidence-based approaches if current interventions are not achieving their intended impact.
Supporting resources

Celebrate success

Key questions
  1. What does success look like in our context?
  2. How will we document and embed successful practices?
  • Consult all staff to determine what success looks like in your context.
  • Consult all staff to determine the ways that success should be celebrated.
  • Instigate short inquiry cycles (approximately eight weeks) so that success is more frequently rewarded.
  • Use the maturity matrix to reassess.
  • Gather student outcome and student feedback data to determine success.
Supporting resources

PLC maturity matrix