Richard DuFour

Richard DuFour, EdD, was a public school educator for 34 years. A prolific author and sought-after consultant, he is recognized as one of the leading authorities on helping school practitioners implement the PLC at Work™ process.

Is This Candidate a Good Fit for a PLC?

We received a question from an educator interested in the kinds of questions she might use to determine if a candidate is a good fit for a professional learning community. We suggest that you ask questions that would get at the person’s alignment with the Big Ideas of a PLC. For example:

A. The purpose of our school is to ensure that all students learn, rather than are taught.

  1. I’m going to present you with four statements. Which is closest to your personal philosophy? "I believe all students can learn...
  • based on their ability."
  • if they take advantage of the opportunities we give them to learn."
  • something, but it is more important that we create a warm and caring environment than fixating on academic achievement."
  • and we should be committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure all students learn at high levels."
  1. If at the end of the first semester, you discovered that 50 percent of your students were failing, would it trouble you? (Then drop the percentage: How about 25 percent, 15 percent, 10 percent?)
  2. We have all run into a student who simply does not want to work, but is not a behavior problem and is not interfering with the learning of others. How have you responded to that student?
  3. One of your colleagues states that there is little a teacher can do to help a student who is just not interested in learning. Would you respond, and if so, how would you respond?
  4. How do you respond to this assertion: "The major causes of learning do not fall within the teacher’s sphere of influence. Student learning will be determined primarily by factors such as innate ability, parental support, the socioeconomic conditions in which the student lives, and the beliefs and behaviors of the student’s peer group."

B. If we are to help all students learn, we must work collaboratively and collectively.

  1. Which of these statements is closest to your personal philosophy?
  • A teacher is a professional who deserves wide-ranging autonomy regarding what to teach, how to teach, how to assess, and how to run his or her classroom. I would not presume to advise another teacher how to run his or her classroom and I would not be receptive to a teacher offering unsolicited advice to me.
  • The challenge of helping all students learn demands a collaborative and coordinated effort. Teachers need to stop thinking in terms of "my kids" and "your kids’" and work interdependently to promote the success of "our kids."
  1. Think of a time when you were part of a group or team that led to better results for its members and a more satisfying professional experience. Think of another time when you were part of a group or team and it was a negative experience. What factors contributed to the difference?
  2. If you were assigned to a teaching team and encouraged to collaborate, on what questions or issues do you believe the team should focus its efforts?

C. It is important to focus on results, rather than intentions.

  1. What is your understanding of the term "formative assessment"? Can you cite examples of when and how you have used formative assessment in your teaching experience?
  2. What is your reaction to this statement: "Teachers of the same course or grade level should use common assessments so each member of the team can determine the achievement of his or her students compared to other students attempting to acquire the same knowledge and skills."
  3. What is your reaction to the statement: "Teachers and students benefit when evidence of student learning is easily accessible and openly shared among members of the teaching team."
  4. Have you ever participated in a process where teachers worked together to establish the criteria by which they would judge the quality of student work and then practiced applying the criteria to examples of student work until they were certain they were providing consistent feedback? What is your reaction to that process?


Nicole Episcopo

I find this information about collaboration to be incredibly helpful as I complete my first year as a paraprofessional, and prepare to complete my teaching license in May of 2022. I know from personal experience that in order for students to succeed as a whole, the educators teaching the classes have to work together to achieve this goal. Something my team utilizes is the phrase of “our kids”, as we use this for any student in the building whether they are our student or not. This creates a team- like mentality when it comes to teaching similar groups of students.

Posted on

Robert Mackey

Rick thank you for providing some very timely insights to interview questions as we are entering our hiring window. These questions may have a valid place in other arenas as well: mentor/mentee relationship; teacher evaluation; and even school improvement planning. All with minor adaptation.

Posted on

karen l fitzsimmons

great questions - i like B & C best
what can we do about laying off some of those we hired with the PLC philosophy?
i know i will get to ask some of these -- but the outlook right now isn't as bright as a year ago -- many teachers are staying on that planned on leaving (and we are laying off those who came on knowing we are a PLC school) -- so administrators have to rethink how to help those staying on see the benefits of looking at data and working as a team to help all students -- i need help

Posted on