Educators are working together to be better teachers. When teachers collaborate, they enhance students’ learning experiences.
At the Fall River School District this is becoming the norm. This change has been picking up speed across the school district. Teachers have a choice when it comes to how they choose to deliver their lessons.
That say occurs via professional learning communities.
In these PLCs, teachers get together in small groups during meetings facilitated by a team leader, also a teacher. Their conversations generally center on student learning. Teachers can share what’s working well and what’s not working well.
It’s a shared decision-making process. The PLC is a component of the Fall River schools’ District Capacity Project, and the plan is to have the model implemented across all city public schools.
The concept has been a nationwide educational trend for more than a decade and at least the past five years in some Fall River schools.
Doran Community School Principal Maria Pontes said the concept was put in place at Matthew J. Kuss Middle School and later at Doran when she became principal.
At the time that PLC models were implemented, both schools were designated as underperforming Level 4 schools by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Both had since left that designation.
Pontes believes that turnaround was partly due to the shared leadership models that PLCs provide and the increased professional development that came with it.
“For us, we needed an all-hands-on-deck school. Everybody is invested in what happens here. We wanted to create a system to share the leadership of our school,” Pontes said. “It really has helped us to remain focused on our kids.”
Pontes said the PLC model is teacher-driven and so far has been used to varying degrees across the district.
“I think there are schools doing it really well,” Pontes said. “By creating a learning environment for the young and the old, it’s going to translate into our kids’ success.”