Michelle Dillard

Michelle Dillard is an assistant superintendent for Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky, where she oversees two high schools, three middle schools, fifteen elementary schools, and three Success Pathways schools.

PLC Collaboration: District and School Leaders

Our district went through an organizational reorg during the 2018-2019 school year. As we morphed into the school year, we wanted to work on improving PLCs. Each level in Jefferson County Schools has a team of district resource teachers to provide support for schools. We have been working with the schools on becoming highly effective PLCs. Our ELA resource teacher created a learning walk tool, PLC Check In, we could use when visiting collaborative teams. My administrative assistant and I looked at the weekly reports to monitor what was taking place during the week.

Supporting PLCs at the District Level

Districts that are committed to the PLC process support PLC work with resources, training, and guidance, but how often do district leaders provide specific feedback to collaborative teams? Because I know that the work of PLCs will advance my 25 middle schools, it is important to me that my team and I spend time in collaborative teams and provide meaningful feedback to principals after collaborative team visits.   Each time one of our team members visits a collaborative team, they complete a Google form created by one of our resource teachers who has extensive experience in PLC work and taught at a Model PLC School. The survey includes the four Critical Questions with subcategories to record the ways in which teams are doing the work. Visitors can choose from a drop-down box under each of the four Critical Questions, or they can check a box that indicates that none of the PLC components were observed. There is also an opportunity to provide narrative comments.  

The Tool

Plan: What do we expect our kids to learn?


Do: How do we teach it?


Study: How will we know when they’ve learned it?


Act: How will we respond if they haven’t? How will we respond if they have?

  • Planning for extended time/support
  • Planning for re-teaching
  • Spiraling in standards to future learning
  • Identifying and following up on named/claimed students
  • Planning for differentiation
  • Developing accelerated learning/learning contracts


Making It Your Own

The activities are customized to align with our unique district programs, initiatives, and areas of focus. For example, our students complete a MAP assessment three times a year. When thinking about how to roll out a feedback tool in your district, consider working with district leaders to identify the district-specific work or vocabulary that aligns with the four Critical PLC Questions. This is an opportunity to calibrate at the district level around the work of PLCs and how the district is supporting that work through clarity of purpose and supports.

The feedback tool benefits the principal and collaborative team as additional information in coaching sessions, but, just as importantly, it keeps district leaders focused on the work that leads to increased student achievement, and it gives teachers an opportunity to see that PLC work is valued and supported by district leaders.


Chad Coomer

Thank you for this article. I'm digging in to PLCs - the 4 questions and really trying to find out where "Instructional Strategies" fit under the 4 questions. I'm surprised that is not an added question "How will you teach it?" Can anybody shed light on what that is not a question or where it fits into the 4 PLC questions? Thank you!

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