Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)


What is a PLC?

A Professional Learning Community (PLC) is educators committed to working collaboratively in ongoing processes of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. PLCs operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous, job-embedded learning for educators.


PLC Guiding Questions

  1. What do we want ALL students to learn?
  2. How will we know if they have learned?
  3. How will we respond when some students do not learn?
  4. How will we respond when they already know it?


Six Characteristics of PLCs

Learning by Doing: A Handbook for PLCs at Work, Dufour et al. (2006)

1.  Focus on Learning

    • The school is focused on and committed to the learning of all students and teachers.

2. Collaborative Culture Focused on Learning

    • PLCs have collaborative teams working interdependently to achieve common goals linked to the purpose of learning for all

3. Collective Inquiry

    • PLC teams engage in collective inquiry into both best practices in teaching and best practices in learning, working together to build shared knowledge on the best way to achieve the common goals.

4. Action, Orientation, and Experimentation

    • PLC teams are action oriented:  they serve as catalysts for action and learn by doing.  PLCs foster an environment in which innovation and experimentation are ways of conducting day-to-day business.

5. Continuous Improvement

    • PLCs constantly search for a better way to achieve goals.  Working in a cycle of continuous improvement, teams gather evidence of current levels of student learning though the; develop strategies and ideas to build on strengths and address weaknesses; implement those strategies and ideas; analyze the impact of the changes and determine what worked and what did not work; and apply the knowledge learned in the next cycle.

6. Results Orientation

    • PLC teams realize that all of the efforts in the above five areas must be assessed on the basis of results.  Teams develop and pursue measurable improvement goals that are aligned to school and district goals for learning.