Professional Learning Community (PLC) days are improving student learning in Comox Valley schools, according to a year-one review.
Comox Valley Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association president Kevin Reimer presented feedback collected from staff at all Comox Valley schools during last week’s Board of Education meeting, noting the importance of mentorship and collaboration between teachers.
“The PLC model is really providing for our teachers dealing with some of the complexity about being a classroom teacher that certainly didn’t exist when I was a beginning teacher,” he told the board. “Now they have a vehicle to share and learn from each other.”
This school year marked the first year the PLC model was rolled out Valley-wide. On 15 Wednesdays throughout the school year, students are dismissed 90 minutes early, giving teachers and support staff time to sit down in PLC groups and work on various projects. A few of the many examples submitted to the review are increasing student success in foundations of Math 11, exploring the inquiry model, student engagement through community building and engaging vulnerable readers.
Some staff included quotes about their personal experiences.
“In the PLC group I am finding my voice and I can express myself more,” says education assistant Suzanne Prosick. “In my work I know how to support students better because I know the model.”
Teacher Chantal Stefan says: “This time to work together and have meaningful conversations about where students are struggling, and how we as a team can help them, has been so valuable. It is making me a better teacher, and is making the learning in the classroom more authentic to the needs of students.”
Reimer acknowledged some hesitation from parents last September when the initiative was first rolled out.
“While there was some reluctance on the part of our parent community, I think they understand that what we’re doing is really acting in the best interest of their kids,” Reimer told the board, as he recommended the amount of PLC time remain the same next school year. “I think what we have in place is working right now.”
Superintendent Sherry Elwood added parent feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Unsolicited, I’ve had lots of positive feedback where parents have talked about how they’re seeing their child’s classroom change, or their son’s coming home so excited about something that their teacher’s trying (that is) new,” she told the board, adding the initiative is in its infancy and so is not yet perfect, but is certainly working.
“I’m confident that already we’re seeing changes in classrooms, and teachers and parents and administrators are reporting that things are changing in the schools.”
District staff are expected to present next year’s school calendar, including PLC days, during the May board meeting.