The Learning Community Model is based on the premise of shared responsibility and shared accountability for both students and staff. Staff work together within the learning community to ensure students learn and to provide opportunities for learning right at students’, social, emotional, physical, and academic levels. In order to do this, student are grouped in flexible groups that ebb and flow based on student strengths and needs.
Teams of teachers work with students for a two-year period, building stronger relationships and continuous support. All decisions are based on four key questions:
- What should all students know and be able to do?
- How will we know if they have learned?
- How will we respond if they have not learned?
- How will we respond if they already have the knowledge and skills?
Pre-assessments and projects are used to determine a student’s existing level of understanding. Flexible groups are used to provide instruction, intervention or enrichment. Groups remain flexible in membership and size and are adjusted as needed. Real-world, meaningful projects become an important tool in determining knowledge and skills. In a Professional Learning Community, there is only one constant – learning. When learning is the constant expectation, time and instruction are variables! All kids receive core pieces of instruction, some students receive more support, and a few of our students get tailor-made programs to enrich their learning.
Collaboration is the foundation of a professional learning community. Teachers, students and families work together to achieve their collective purpose of learning for all. Collaboration becomes a powerful tool as teachers work together to plan, teach and monitor student learning. Teachers are engaged in an ongoing cycle of sharing ideas, asking questions and providing feedback to each other and students. Professional learning communities are a proven, highly effective tool for increasing student achievement for all students.
Ongoing and caring relationships are the heart of the learning community. All students and teachers in a learning community focus on social, emotional, physical and academic development. Students assume responsibility for much of their learning and behaviors within the school. Teachers facilitate the learning, monitor progress and provide different levels of support as needed. Students have regular conferences to monitor progress with teachers in their learning community. Parents and students work in partnership with teachers to ensure students are learning at an appropriate rate and that they are engaged in challenging and meaningful learning opportunities.
The professional learning community model is a powerful way of teaching and learning that has proven benefits for students. The intense focus on student learning, collaboration, critical thinking and communication leads to high levels of accountability and increased student learning.