Adolph Link

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

Link School has implemented a model of a professional learning community by encompassing several key characteristics: structure, collaboration, accountability and creativity.  Around 12 years ago, our district was introduced to the PLC way of life.  It took several years for the pieces to fall into place, such as scheduling and staff ownership.  For about 9 years now, our school has really taken hold of all things PLC, and it is now a way of life.  Teachers can not imagine working in a school system that does not include such high levels of collaboration.

To start, Link utilizes a structure that allows teachers to meet up to 4 times per week for planning, including at least 1 planning session where support staff are present.  We also utilize an intranet to communicate decisions and post plans for staff that are unable to attend each of the planning sessions.  This structure and communication has allowed teams to devote significant time to collaboration.

But giving teachers time to collaborate is not actual collaboration.  Our teachers have collectively developed planning templates to help structure planning sessions, allowing teachers to come prepared and know for certain their individual responsibilities upon leaving the meeting.  Furthermore, the lesson templates allow teachers to share their creative ideas while staying accountable for the next steps agreed upon as a team.

Our true work amongst our teachers comes during the next level of conversations.  Since our structures provide multiple meeting times for teachers, and the lesson agendas and templates allow teachers to come prepared and move through the "what" of the lessons, our teachers are finding significant time to discuss the "how" of teaching.  We have purposely layered in "how" questions to the agenda so that teachers do not get distracted by the logistical items that are so easily distracting.  Teachers now spend time talking about how they think the lesson will best be delivered, how the students will respond to the lesson, and how they will assess students throughout the lesson.

As we continue to progress as a PLC, staff have now begun to take on leadership roles within their teams and across the building.  Working as a professional learning community is a way of life and something that staff hold dear.  Teachers, coaches and support staff recognize the impact that working together brings for the students.  We have all adopted the common language of calling any student in the building “our student” and hold ourselves accountable for their growth.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Grade level teams at Link meet weekly to discuss students and appropriate groupings.  We have called our group structures fluid as we want to be able to move students based on any data points that we collect.  However, to ascertain that these groups do not become stagnant, we take the last week of each month to ask ourselves 2 pointed questions: "Who is ready to move groups? And if not, why?"  These meetings have proven to be helpful for us as we monitor students learning while attempting to match our structures up with the students' needs.

Furthermore, these meetings include more than just our teachers.  They also include our support staff, bilingual teachers, special education teachers, literacy and math coaches and administrators so that we have a complete picture of the students as we make instructional decisions.  These teams are responsible for creating the assessments given to students.  We roughly administer one common assessment per week, or three per unit.  This gives us a chance to monitor growth throughout the unit, make student groups more fluid and reteach when necessary. We devote the majority of our time creating and administering common formative assessments in math and reading, however we have established cfa's for science and social studies as well. 

In addition to commonf formative assessments, we utilize Measures of Academic Progress to better understand and support our students.  After receiving MAP score for students, we restructure our intervention and enrichment times to meet the needs of the students.  Rather than keep them in these groups for an entire trimester, or until we take the next MAP assessment, we use cfa's to determine when and which students should move to a different, more challenging group.  This approach has allowed us to look at data more comprehensibly, create fluid groupings of students and make personnel decisions based on recently acquired data.

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

Our school and district have implemented a simultaneous intervention model with an enrichment model.  We call this time acceleration, as we use it to accelerate all students' learning.  Acceleration is divided into 2 thirty minute segments: 30 minutes for literacy support and 30 minutes for math support.  These 2 blocks of time run 5 days a week and support the initial instruction blocks that occur at other times each day. 

Acceleration time is an "all-hands-on-deck" approach, so that our support staff can flood the grade level in efforts to provide maximum support.  This includes classroom teachers across the grade level, literacy coach, gifted teacher, special education teacher, bilingual tecaher and often a dual language intervention teacher.  Each teacher and support staff breaks down the entire grade level and takes a small group of students based on academic need.  Once in the small groups, teachers provide differentiated lessons based on the skills delivered in initial instruction.  During this time, our neediest students are being met with in small groups, and our highest achieving students are also being met with so we can support their learning as well.  It truly provides great support to all of our learners.

In order to make this structure work, we do not overlap any grade levels' acceleration time on the master schedule.  This allows us to push in the most available support staff to make the group sizes as low as possible.

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

The first way that we build high performing, collaborative teams is to hire the right people.  Our hiring process is intended to find candidates that are not just high-performing, but also collaborative, solution-oriented, realistic and creative.  Adding these people to a grade level team supports the vision that we have for our professional learning community.

Teams include classroom teachers, the literacy coach, gifted teacher, special education teacher, bilingual teacher and potentially an instructional assistant.  The non-classroom teachers typically divide up the grade levels based on their best fit.  For instance, we have 3 bilingual teachers, of which one works with kindergarten and 1st grade, another works with 2nd and 3rd grdae, and another with 4th, 5th and 6th grade. Once on a team, we ask that each member contribute to setting up team norms and establishing team SMART goals.  This activity allows each member to have a voice in the process, as well as take ownership for their role within the team.  Further, we ask that staff continually discuss their students with one another so that we can learn from each other and create the best learning environment for each student.  This level of transparency has allowed our student to build stronger, collaborative bonds with one another.

We realize that creating a team and holding them to high expectaions is a moot point if we're not allowing them consistent time to meet during the school day.  Our specials schedule allows at least 180 minutes of common planning time for the classroom teachers, and 60 of those minutes also includes common planning time for the support staff. A copy of the master schedule is included in Resources.

Thanks to having common plan time, clear expectaions for how the time is spent, and teachers that truly value collaboration, teams continue to address the gaps in the data and approach teaching with the mindset that all students will learn.

Additional Achievement Data

Grade 3

Math

Reading

School

District

State

School

District

State

2016-2017

(PARCC)

77

62

39.2

77

63

36.2

2015-2016

(PARCC)

66

66

40

59

62

36

2014-2015

(PARCC)

62

61

36

62

60

34

Grade 4

Math

Reading

School

District

State

School

District

State

2016-2017

(PARCC)

51

55

30.8

65

63

37.1

2015-2016

(PARCC)

56

55

31

64

61

37

2014-2015

(PARCC)

54

56

28

73

65

37

Grade 5

Math

Reading

School

District

State

School

District

State

2016-2017

(PARCC)

60

53

29.6

67

63

36.6

2015-2016

(PARCC)

61

55

32

66

62

35

2014-2015

(PARCC)

64

57

27

70

67

37

Grade 6

Math

Reading

School

District

State

School

District

State

2016-2017

(PARCC)

70

59

28

61

67

35

2015-2016

(PARCC)

67

61

29

74

71

35

2014-2015

(PARCC)

75

62

27

74

68

35

*Additional achievement data can be found under RESOURCES

US Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award - 2007.

Top