Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Young and the Riverside County Office of Education hosted over 500 teachers and school administrators November 7-8, 2013, to the Professional Learning Communities at Work: Bringing the Big Ideas to Life at the Renaissance Esmeralda in Indian Wells.
Dr. Rick and Becky DuFour, nationally recognized authorities on applying Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) in the real world of schools, presented the two-day training.
A PLC is described as “an ongoing systematic process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve,” according to Dr. Richard DuFour.
Educators are working harder than ever and facing challenges that seem insurmountable at times; however, they can survive and even thrive by learning to work together in an environment that allows educators to learn and grow just like their students. Teachers work in teams, engaging in an ongoing cycle of questions that promote deep team learning. This process, in turn, leads to higher levels of student achievement.
“In the private sector we have known and been able to measure how collaboration is critical to success,” he said. “The same principle can be, and should be, applied to education.”
Dr. Rick DuFour said that the training is an attempt to change how teachers work. “The main thing is that we must recognize that teachers, principals, and educators are working really hard, and that if we are to get significantly better results, we need to change the nature of the work,” he said. “We need to create an environment where educators can continue to learn, where we are not threatening or punishing them, or assuming that they have given us anything less than their best effort.”
Ed Clement, Principal at Parkridge Elementary School in Corona, said that he has been to the PLC training for nine years, and each time, he learns something new that he can use at his school, which has been highlighted in recent news stories for six straight years of improving student academic performance.
Educators are now facing the implementation of the new California “Common Core” education standards, being implemented nationwide. Mr. Clement said his school has been involved in the PLC process for several years and will be using the PLC model as a vehicle to make the adjustment from existing California state standards to the new standards.
Since 2004, more than 5,000 educators in Riverside County have attended the PLC training, called “Professional Learning Communities at Work: Bringing the Big Ideas to Life.” That places Riverside County on the leading edge of the PLC model.
Seven Riverside County school districts were in attendance at the training, including Coachella Valley, Corona-Norco, Jurupa, Moreno Valley, Murrieta Valley, and Val Verde unified school districts, along with Perris Elementary School District.
Since 2004, educators from all 23 districts in the county have attended the PLC training.