Collaborating in PLCs

Educators will use the professional learning community (PLC) structure to collaborate effectively to improve student learning.
Made by Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Learning at USD
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Graduate-level credit is available for this micro-credential. You can apply for credit through one of our university partners after successfully completing the micro-credential.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Educators work collaboratively to analyze student learning and develop appropriate learning experiences.

Method Components

Suggested strategies for implementing an effective PLC

  • Establish a clear mission, vision, and goals.
  • Establish boundaries (time).
  • Establish norms and community guidelines.
  • Develop a practice of collective inquiry.
  • Listen attentively.
  • Create space for everyone to speak.
  • Allow for thinking time and engagement.
  • Learn through experience to create meaning.
  • Foster flexible and unbiased conversations.
  • Hold everyone accountable.

Questions to operate from

  • What do we want each student to learn?
  • How will we know when each student has learned?
  • How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?

Suggested strategies for addressing a student’s difficulty in learning

  • As a PLC, develop strategies to ensure that struggling students receive additional time and support, no matter who their instructor is. The response should be:

- Timely. The school quickly identifies students who need additional time and support.

- Based on intervention rather than remediation. The plan provides students with help as soon as they experience difficulty rather than relying on summer school, retention, and remedial courses.

- Directive. Instead of inviting students to seek additional help, the systematic plan requires students to devote extra time and receive additional assistance until they have mastered the necessary concepts.

  • Notify parents or guardians about the concern.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • DuFour, Richard. "What Is a Professional Learning Community?" Schools as Learning Communities 61.8 (2004): 6–11.

    Professional learning communities (PLCs) shift the practice from one in which teachers look at what students are being taught to a lens in that evaluates are students learning. In addition professional learning communities look at practices to help all students achieve at high levels. All the while, teachers collaborating with one helps establishes common ground and shared knowledge. Dufour outlines three essential questions that should drive PLCs to ensure all students are learning.
  • Pirtle, Sylvia & Tobia, Ed. Implementing Professional Learning Communities. Vol 2. No. 3, SEDL. 2014.

    The implementation of effective PLCs depends on engaging teachers in ongoing conversations about teaching and learning that are directly related to their daily work with students. For that to happen, district and school leaders must provide support and feedback and cultivate an atmosphere of trust, the conditions in which PLCs can thrive. When educators foster these professional learning environments, teachers can act on the guidance that fellow teachers provide to solve significant issues faced by educators and as a profession.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3 and an Exemplary score for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview question

(500-word limit)

Provide a detailed contextual description of the collaborative PLC, using the following questions as guidance:

  • Does the school have a culture of PLCs? If so, describe their structure and how often they occur.
  • Please describe the background of the focus area for the PLC. How did the need come about?
  • Have PLCs been sequenced for this focus area? If yes, where does this PLC fall in the sequence?
  • Please describe who is involved in the PLC.
  • Who is facilitating the PLC?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • Were any support materials utilized in the meeting to support this focus area? If so, why?

Part 2. Work examples/artifacts

Submit artifacts/evidence that were created while collaborating in PLCs (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, or other products), including such items as:

  • An annotated video of a PLC meeting or
  • Intervention plans created by the PLC to meet the needs of at least three students

(Note: all personal information about parents and guardians should be anonymous.)

Part 3. Reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned using the following questions as guidance (300-word limit):

  • How did working collaboratively with a PLC help support student learning? Moving forward, how might your practice change as a result of what you have learned?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Collaborating in PLCs
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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