Gateway Regional High School

Professional Learning Communities

Table of Contents

GRHS Vision

GRHS PLCs, Defined

GRHS PLC Big Ideas

How We Do the Work

PLC Member Roles/ Rights/ Responsibilities

PLC Expectations and Forms

PLC Conversations

Cross-Grade Level and Cross- Content Conversations

Differentiating for ALL Students

Types of Assessments

Guidelines For the Collaborative Analysis of Assessment Data




Videos, Documents, & Forms

GRHS Vision

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartMore, Defined

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartMore in Action

GRHS PLCs, Defined

Professional Learning Communities at Gateway Regional are the primary vehicle for collaboration, accountability, and improvement. Teachers meet by content areas to establish vertical and horizontal alignment, work toward common goals, and support one another in the pursuit of excellence for all students.

PLCs at Gateway Regional will

  • Focus on issues related to student achievement.
  • Make data-driven, evidence-based decisions about teaching and learning.
  • Collaborate to ensure a quality curriculum and effective instruction for all students.
  • Emphasize actionable planning.

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ...Rick DuFour on the Importance of PLCs (4:38) 

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ...Rick DuFour on why PLCs matter even for excellent teachers (1:47)  

GRHS PLC Big Ideas


  1. No school can help all students achieve at high levels if teachers work in isolation.
  2. Schools improve when teachers are given the time and support to work together to clarify essential student learning, develop common assessments for learning, analyze evidence of student learning, and use that evidence to learn from one another.

Focus on results

  1. PLCs measure their effectiveness on the basis of results rather than intentions.
  2. All programs, policies, and practices are continually assessed on the basis of their impact on student learning.
  3. All staff members receive relevant and timely information on their effectiveness in achieving intended results.

Focus on learning

  1. What do we want students to learn? What should each student know and be able to do as a result of each unit, grade level, and/or course?
  2. How will we know if they have learned? Are we monitoring each student’s learning on a timely basis?  What is the common assessment, survey, project we will use?
  3. What will we do if students don’t learn? What systematic process is in place to provide additional time and support for students who are experiencing difficulty?  What do we need to discuss with our supervisors, grade partners, colleagues?
  4. What will we do if they already know it? How do we extend and enrich learning to challenge students beyond the standards?

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ...Three Points of Clarity about PLCs (3:30)

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ... The Four Key Questions (1:32)  

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ...A PLC Non-Example (2:33) (Added for comedic relief)

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartLearning in PLC: Student by Student, Target by Target  

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartDefining a Learning Community by the Nature of Its Work 

How We Do the Work

  • Show up willing to participate. As a group, establish your norms and shared responsibilities. Make a commitment to hold student learning as the top priority.  
  • Work toward common goals. As a PLC, collaboratively determine SMART goals or a list of desired outcomes with actionable steps to move toward the goal.
  • Goals may reflect SGO goals.
  • Utilize available data from common formative and summative assessment, as appropriate. You may also look at progress toward shared goals, such as developing reading fluency, increasing critical thinking skills, etc.
  • Document the group’s progress. Consider a shared Google folder or binder system to maintain notes, artifacts, and materials.                                 

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartForming Ground Rules Protocol

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartGoal Setting Protocol

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ...Elements of Effective Teacher Collaboration in Practice (5:35)

PLC Member Roles/ Rights/ Responsibilities

Every PLC member has the right to

  • Refocus conversations so that the work centers on students and the improvement of student achievement.
  • Respectfully ask colleagues to be mindful of the group’s established goals and norms.
  • Have their voice heard.
  • Respectfully question each other and push the team to the team’s best thinking.

PLC Facilitators

  • Are teacher-leaders selected by the group to facilitate meetings.
  • Work with the Instructional Supervisor, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Admin team to implement the PLC process.
  • Ensures all members of the team have the opportunity to participate.
  • Keeps the meeting on topic and focused on student learning.
  • Maintain artifacts of the group’s work.
  • Communicates the group’s goals and progress to others.
  • Brings concerns of the group to Instructional Supervisor/Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

PLC Members

  • Come to meetings prepared and ready to actively participate.
  • Remain focused on the topic at hand and on student learning.
  • Invite group members to pursue their best thinking.
  • Are conscious of their impact on the group.

Instructional Supervisors, Director of C&I, and Admin Team

  • Support PLCs by providing resources necessary for effective group functioning (time and space to meet, materials, etc.).
  • Provide feedback and data regarding progress toward group goals.  
  • Provide opportunities for targeted professional development to meet group goals.
  • Bring concerns of the PLC to Administrative Council meetings as necessary.
  • Step in to facilitate meetings in the absence of the PLC facilitator.

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartTeam Leads/Facilitators in a Professional Learning Community

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartPLC Roles to Consider

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartThe Role of Teams in a PLC

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartClearing Things Up with the Cloud (How to Use and Organize Your Google Drive)

PLC Expectations and Forms

At the beginning of the year, PLCs will

  • Determine how notes/minutes of the meetings will be recorded and shared with the team at the end of each meeting.
  • Establish norms and goals for the PLC.
  • Establish meeting locations.
  • Review and discuss the PLC Roadmap.
  • Submit a PLC planning form.

Throughout the year,

  • PLCs will meet regularly.
  • Create and revise goals and action plans based on student needs to support district goals.
  • Focus on improving achievement for ALL students.
  • Review and discuss the PLC Roadmap as often as the PLC determines, at least one additional review near the end of the year.
  • Report progress made toward goals to administration through sharing agendas, minutes, occasional progress reports, completing a mid-year survey and end-of-year reflection.

Attention, Icon, Exclamation ...GRHS PLC Planning Form

Attention, Icon, Exclamation ...GRHS PLC Agenda/Minutes Template

Attention, Icon, Exclamation ...PLC Roadmap: Are We There Yet?

Attention, Icon, Exclamation ...GRHS MidYear PLC Survey

Attention, Icon, Exclamation ...GRHS PLC End of Year Reflection (TBD)  

PLC Conversations 

Now that we have formed our PLC, what do we talk about? The following is a list of conversations that a PLC might have when teachers share content.

  1. Unpacking the Standards
  1. Unpack the standards into clear, specific, student-friendly learning objectives.
  1. Evaluating Curriculum Units
  1. Evaluate and critique student learning objectives in units of student, make suggestions for improvements and revisions to the unit.
  1. Developing and Using Essential Questions
  1. Create essential questions.
  1. Creating Standards-Aligned Summative Assessments
  1. Create summative assessments including rubrics, exemplars, and non-exemplars.
  1. Create Pre-Assessments as Guides to Instruction
  1.  Design pre-assessments.
  1. Designing the Learning Experience
  1. Design learning experiences including instructional activities, student strategies and formative assessments – ALIGNMENT IS KEY.
  1. Analyzing and Using Formative Assessment Data
  1. Analyze formative assessment data throughout the unit to drive instructional planning, differentiation, and timely interventions.
  1. Analyzing and Using Summative Assessment Data
  1. Analyze summative assessment data to monitor student progress, revise unit learning experiences and assessments, seek targeted professional learning, and set goals.
  1. Including College and Career Readiness, Instructional Technology, etc.
  1. Discuss Career Ready Practices and embed them in units of study.
  1. Increasing Consistency in Grading
  1. Discuss grading philosophy, policies and procedures. Strive for consistency.

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ...Essential Questions (5:04)  

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ...Formative v. Summative Assessments (0:44)

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartHow to develop common assessments

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartExamining an Assessment for Quality and Alignment

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartProtocol for Team Analysis Prior to Teaching a Unit 

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ...An Introduction to Pre-Assessments (2:00)

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartWhat? So What? Now What? A Protocol to Help Colleagues Problem-Solve

... YouTube Play Button: Clear ...NJ Career Ready Practices in Action (3:40)

Cross-Grade Level and Cross- Content Conversations

What if the PLC all teaches different things? What if we meet across grade levels or content areas? In that case, your guiding question would be, “How can we build knowledge and skills consistently across grade levels and content areas?” 

  • Ensure vertical alignment.  Build upon prerequisite skills and increase expectations/rigor year to year.
  • Share student data with colleagues so they can better address students’ needs.
  • Create ways to meaningfully integrate disciplines so students apply skills and knowledge from various content areas to solve a problem or create a product related to a real-world situation.
  • Share effective student strategies that can be used across grade levels and content areas.
  • Build a common language of learning.

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartI’m the only one teaching this course. How do I collaborate?

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartHow can elective teachers participate in the PLC process?

Differentiating for ALL Students

In planning for the needs of students in your class, consider the following list of questions. How could you group students according to the following criteria and provide small-group, targeted learning to teach group?

  • Ready: Is the student ready to move on?
  • Reinforce: Does the student need more practice or reinforcement?
  • Reteach: Does the student need to be retaught the content because he or she doesn't get it?
  • Reach: Is the student excelling and need "Reach" activities to challenge him or her?

Types of Assessments

There are many types of assessments given in schools.

  • PLCs are primarily concerned with co-creating and analyzing formative common assessments and benchmark common assessments.
  • Teachers in PLCs may share strategies for and findings from formative common classroom assessments for learning.
  • PLCs use data from summative district and state assessments and data about people, practices, and perceptions to inform their work and provide context to decisions to be made.

Guidelines For the Collaborative Analysis of Assessment Data

  1. Be honest about what the data is saying about your current reality.
  2. No blaming.
  3. Focus on what the data says about the progress of each student.
  4. Recognize that is not about you; it is about what you can do next to improve each student's level of success. The data is not a reflection of your teaching but rather a reflection of student learning. The expectation is that you will use the data to tailor instruction to meet students' needs.
  5. Reflect on how unit activities or student strategies can be revised.
  6. Share best practices as well as things that may not have worked as planned.
  7. Review the assessment to ensure it effectively measures the SLOs.
  8. For formative assessments, use the data to plan next steps in instruction, including flexible grouping, differentiation, and intervention.
  9. For summative assessments, discuss how you will address students who did not meet proficiency. Look back–did these students experience difficulty on formative assessments? What errors are they still making? Look ahead–do these SLOs appear in other units or are they pre-requisites for the next unit? What other teachers should be made aware of the data?
  10. For summative assessments, what revisions do you have to make to the unit or the assessment? Do you need to seek further professional resources to assist you in the revision.                                                

Spiral Notebook Red ClipartATLAS Protocol to Examine Data 


AtomicLearning.Com - Effective PLCs

  • General PLC training available to all teachers. Provides certificate/documentation at the end of course of learning.
  • Username: Gateway email
  • Password: atomic

All Things Assessment 

  • This site is a collaborative site where educators can discover new assessment practices, as well as ideas for refining their current systems or processes. This purely objective resource is for educators committed to ensuring student success through best assessment practices. The site allows users to share their knowledge, ask questions and get expert insight into today's most pressing challenges and most innovative ideas.

All Things PLC 

  • This site was created to serve as a collaborative resource for educators and administrators who are committed to enhancing student achievement. All Things PLC invites users to share their knowledge, ask questions, and get expert insight into the issues teachers face each day in the classroom. Three main features of this website include:
  • Blogs and Discussions which allows users to connect with other PLC practitioners by sharing insights, offering tips, and asking questions;
  • Evidence of Effectiveness which allows users to find and compare Evidence of Effectiveness data from other PLC schools or districts like theirs;
  • Tools and Resources which allows users to download sample agendas and activities, investigate a variety of helpful links, and more.

Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

  • ASCD provides expert and innovative solutions in professional development, capacity building, and educational leadership essential to the way educators learn, teach, and lead.

Learning Forward (Formerly National Staff Development Council)

  • Learning Forward is the largest non-profit professional association committed to ensuring success for all students through staff development and school improvement. Their purpose: Every educator engages in effective professional learning every day so every student achieves. Learning Forward views high quality staff development programs as essential to creating schools in which all students and staff members are learners who continually improve their performance.

Solution Tree

  • Solution Tree is a leading provider of educational strategies and tools that improve staff and student performance. For more than 20 years, Solution Tree resources have helped K–12 teachers and administrators create schools where all children succeed.