Michelle Davis •

Gamble Rogers Middle School • Saint Augustine, Florida

Walking the Path to Success

Three years into our PLC journey and I couldn't imagine our school without learning communities.  They have transformed our school climate completely.   Before we instituted this shift in thinking, the teachers at our school were functioning, for the large part, as islands.  Because of this students were not benefiting from the sharing of strategies and ideas that come from a PLC.  There was some collaboration between teachers, but it was not focused, and therefore not as effective as it could be.  After researching All Things PLC and attending a Solution Tree summer conference, we decided to create cross-curricular PLCs, providing them with a focused outline for our teachers to follow.  These teams are comprised of math and science teachers together and language arts and social studies teachers together.  What we have seen on our campus is a tremendous amount of learning for our teachers and students.  The teachers have worked together to create SMART goals, aligned instructional practice, common assessments and intervention/enrichment opportunities for the students in our charge.  Throughout this process, the teachers have learned that while there are standards that must be covered in a timely manner, we must never lose sight of the individual child and the educational struggles they may have.  An example of this would be our teachers seeing a great need for a school-wide common vocabulary.  The teachers learned that the students could and would be more successful if they were aware that what they are asked to do in science class, may be the same formula that they are asked to use in math class.  The only difference being what the teacher calls the formula or process.  The co-labouring of our teachers has sparked an enthusiasm for them professionally, and in turn has sparked an increase in student success.  Without PLCs, this would not be the case.

Since the creation of PLCs on our campus, we have seen an amazing increase in student learning.  Because of multiple exposures to important material in cross-content classrooms, students are retaining information more easily and are demonstrating a greater understanding of the standards.  Through our PLCs we have begun a weekly intervention block for our students so they are able to meet with teachers to receive a re-teach of content or alternative strategies for learning.   This has shown a great reduction in the number of failing grades at the end of each quarter.  For example, at the end of the first quarter of this school year, zero 6th grade World History students received a failing grade.  When asked, the teachers and students reported that this is a testament to the power of collaboration and the extra block of time they were able to spend with struggling students.

We recently held Quarterly Data Discussions with our teachers regarding the successes of student learning during the previous nine weeks.  PLC teams reported learning gains at all grade levels, in all content areas.  When comparing quarterly assessments from the 2013-14 school year with those from the 2014-15 school year there are great gains.  Below is a data chart where level 3 is proficient:


Level 5

Level 4

Level 3

Level 2

Level 1

2013-14 7th grade Science






2014-15 7th grade Science






2013-14 7th grade Civics






2014-15 7th grade Civics






2013-14 7th grade English






2014-15 7th grade English






Our students’ learning is being impacted quite positively.  When  teachers work together to set goals and develop teaching strategies for the classroom, students’ learning becomes more substantial and lasting. 

Recently I worked with teachers at our school and the school district media services department to create a PLC promotional video that could be used to increase the PLC interest level of teachers, schools and administrators within our school district.  The link to that video is below:

Posted in: Discover Why PLCs Work

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