PLC Schedule Change Proposal (Updated 5-10-11)A key strategy that was recommended by stakeholders through the District strategic planning process was “District,school, grade level and department teams will have adequate time, tools, strategies, training, and resources tocommunicate, collaborate and monitor progress.” Currently, teachers do not have time to collaborate with one anotherwithin the teacher work day. Dunlap School District is proposing to implement Professional Learning Communities(PLCs) in the 2011-12 school year to provide time for teachers to collaborate, offer and receive mentoring and identifyways to best meet individual students’ varying needs to ensure all students achieve their full potential.This document provides more information about the Professional Learning Community model and how it will beimplemented in Dunlap Schools. Information is organized using a “Questions & Answers” format, and there areinteractive links to access further information.In order to create time for PLC teams, a schedule change is being proposed. Information included in this document isintended to clarify the PLC initiative and address anticipated stakeholder questions.
Questions and AnswersQ: What are Professional Learning Communities?A: Professional Learning Communities (also called PLCs) are a research-based best practice that many schools acrossAmerica and internationally have implemented. Locally, school districts such as Pekin, Elmwood and Washington havealso implemented this strategy.Teachers will meet in collaborative teams called “Professional Learning Communities” (PLCs) for an hour once a weekstarting in the 2011-12 school year. A recent District blog post answers many questions about PLCs including: 1.) Whatare PLCs?; 2.) What will teachers do with weekly PLC time?; 3.) What would this look like to an observer?; and 4.) How isthis different than what we already do? In addition, we’ve posted links to more information, an introductory video thatexplains PLCs and a video of a teacher PLC team meeting online:http://dunlapschools.edublogs.org/2011/04/12/professional-learning-communities-a-key-strategy-in-dunlaps-tranformational-continuous-improvement-journey/ .Q: What Does Research Say about Professional Learning CommunitiesA: Research tells us that professional development is most effective when it aims to create professional learningcommunities — places where teachers have ongoing opportunities to learn from research and each other. In the past,Dunlap teachers did some common planning. Through PLCs, they will be working together far more extensively todiscuss instruction, review student work, and share their practices, knowledge, and expertise. "For a long time, we wentinto our rooms, and we went into private practice," a teacher notes. "We never shared what we knew. Now well beallowing teachers to look at it all and talk about strategies theyre going to use together. If Im a new teacher or ateacher who has difficulty with particular content, this gives me an open door with my colleagues so I can get someideas to drive further improvements in student learning.”Teacher collaboration is hailed as one of the most effective ways to improve student learning, and one high school inIllinois is often credited with perfecting the concept. Adlai E. Stevenson High School was one of the first in the nation toembrace what are known as professional learning communities. The school’s focus on teacher teamwork has catapultedit from an ordinary good school to an extraordinary one, advocates say. Among its many accolades, it has been a U.S.Department of Education Blue Ribbon school for four years—one of only three nationwide to achieve that honor. Sowell known are the learning communities there that each year, 3,000 people visit the school’s sprawling campus 30miles northwest of Chicago to experience firsthand how its teacher-collaboration model works.Q: What will be different about next year’s proposed school schedule?A: The following table highlights the key changes to next year’s proposed schedule:
Total MinutesCurrent ScheduleProposed Schedule Change M-F M, T, Th, F Wednesday Start Time End Time Start Time End Time Start Time End TimeElementary School 7 hours 7:45 2:457:392:457:392:15AM Kindergarten 3 hours 7:45 10:457:3910:457:3910:15PM Kindergarten 3 hours 11:45 2:45
Information for Parents and StaffQ: What exactly is being proposed in the schedule change?A: This proposal minimizes school schedule changes and also “banks” instructional time and “reassigns” existing timewithin the current teacher contract. There are several components to the proposal including: • Starting the school day 6 minutes earlier each day at all levels (6 minutes x 5 days = 30 minutes banked time). • Releasing students 30 minutes early on Wednesdays at all levels (using the banked 30 minutes of time generated by starting the school day 6 minutes earlier). • Reduce the District’s School Improvement Plan (SIP) half-days from 6 half-days (10-11 year) to a total of 4 half- days (one each quarter in the 11-12 year) which will occur on Wednesday’s (keeping Wednesday as the “schedule change day”). We also anticipate that teachers will be in their classrooms more as less professional development will be scheduled during the school day with the implementation of an hour per week for PLCs.Q : Who participated in the creation of the school schedule change proposal?A: This issue was first discussed with the District Leadership Team in the fall of 2010. Learn more about this team andtheir purpose on our web site http://www.dunlapcusd.net/StrategicPlan/Pages/default.aspx. This team consists ofstakeholders including students, parents, teachers, support staff, administrators, board members and communitymembers. A smaller subcommittee group was formed to further study the PLC model to determine ways to implementthe strategy in Dunlap Schools. An initial school schedule change was proposed to create time for PLCs. Opportunitiesfor feedback were provided to all stakeholders via an online survey to review the first schedule change proposal andsubmit input. The survey data indicated that stakeholders were “split” in their support for the initial proposal.All survey feedback from the initial proposed school schedule change was posted online for public review, andstakeholders were then invited to review the results and submit proposals for creating time for PLCs. There were 16proposals submitted by stakeholders. All proposals were reviewed by the District Leadership Team to determine theirfeasibility of implementation. Ultimately, a schedule change was recommended that incorporated the feasiblecomponents of the stakeholder submitted proposals and also addressed the key issues that surfaced from stakeholderinput from the first proposed schedule change. View all information related to school schedule changes online at http://www.dunlapcusd.net/Pages/ScheduleChangeProposal.aspx .Q: What will be the new school schedule for students next year?A: Students will begin the school day 6 minutes earlier and will end the day at the same time as they currently do withthe exception of Wednesday afternoons when students will be dismissed 30 minutes earlier. Wednesdays were selectedfor the early release day as it has the fewest holiday disruptions and generates better student attendance. The tablebelow illustrates the proposed school schedule change. Proposed School Schedule Change M, T, Th, F Wednesday Schedule Start Time End Time Start Time End TimeElementary School 7:39 2:45 7:39 2:15AM Kindergarten 7:39 10:45 7:39 10:15PM Kindergarten 11:39 2:45 11:39 2:15Middle School 8:24 3:30 8:24 3:00EDK 8:19 2:10 8:19 1:40AM Bright Futures 8:19 10:55 8:19 10:25PM Bright Futures 11:34 2:10 11:34 1:40High School 8:18 3:30 8:18 3:00HS Zero Hour 7:24 8:13 7:24 8:13
Q: Is there any change in total student instructional time?A: No, students will attend school the same number of days per year and will receive the same number of minutes perweek as they do currently. The total number of instructional minutes will remain the same as it has been.Q: How will the high school “zero hour” be impacted?A: There is no impact to zero hour classes directly; however, changes in the bell schedule due to the shortened day onWednesdays may impact the length of all classes. Zero hour will continue to meet 5 days per week, and there will be noloss of instructional time in zero hour.Q : How will additional time be created for teachers to collaborate without reducing instructional time or increasingthe teacher workday?A: An additional 6 minutes per day is added to the student’s instructional day. This additional instructional time createsan added 30 minutes of time which is banked during the week. On Wednesdays, students will be released 30 minutesearly to provide time for teacher collaboration during the contract day. The additional 30 minutes of Wednesday PLCtime will come from the existing time available in the teacher contract.Q: How will extracurricular activities be impacted on Wednesdays with students being released 30 minutes early?A: Currently, students are not permitted on school grounds until 15 minutes before the start of the school day and needto exit the school grounds 15 minutes after the day has ended (unless they are participating in a supervised schoolactivity). This will need to be enforced in order to provide adequate student supervision in the 2011-12 school year.There are several scenarios that are being considered to address the potential “gap in time” between students beingdismissed and coaches/sponsors scheduling extracurricular activities (an approximate 60-75 minute gap in time). As thisschedule change occurs, there will be a need to “tolerate” some initial and unavoidable scheduling conflicts in the2011-12 year (as contracts/schedules have already been set for extracurriculars). In the coming years, the District willwork toward scheduling adjustments in the 2012-13 year to ensure minimal PLC time disruption.To help accommodate the issue of students participating in extracurricular activities that may not be able to leave theschool campus and return for school sponsored events, the following solutions are being considered: • Avoid scheduling practices/rehearsals/competitions on Wednesday afternoons (whenever possible). • Provide “study halls” or other supervised activities for middle and high school students to remain on campus until extracurricular activities begin. • Move practices/rehearsals to Wednesday mornings (when possible).Q : What other schools are implementing Professional Learning Communities and what are their results?A: Although a comprehensive and all inclusive list of schools implementing PLCs is not available, the professionalliterature documents hundreds and maybe thousands of schools. Visit the “All Things PLC” website(http://www.allthingsplc.info/ ) for many resources and also to access the “PLC Locator”(http://www.allthingsplc.info/plcLocator.php ) which lists many schools in America and their positive results. In short,there are many schools in Illinois and in our immediate area using this research-based approach.Q: Is bussing impacted by this schedule change?A: No, the District will continue to offer bussing to students as we currently do. Students will still be providedtransportation before and after school (including on Wednesdays).Q: How will we know if the PLC model is effective in Dunlap?A: Like any change, we anticipate there will be nuances to address with the implementation of PLCs and anaccompanying schedule change. The PLC initiative will ultimately be measured by continued increases in studentacademic achievement. In addition, an effective PLC model will be implemented with integrity and fidelity and willinclude the following components which will be evaluated over time:
• Shared mission, vision, values, and goals. Educators in a PLC benefit from clarity regarding their shared purpose, a common understanding of the school they are trying to create, collective communities to help move the school in the desired direction, and specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound (SMART) goals to mark their progress. • Collaborative teams focused on learning. In a PLC, educators work together interdependently in collaborative teams to achieve common goals for which they are mutually accountable. The structure of the school is aligned to ensure teams are provided the time and support essential to adult learning. “Collaboration is a systematic process in which we work together, interdependently, to analyze and impact professional practice in order to improve our individual and collective results.” • Collective inquiry. Teams in a PLC relentlessly question the status quo, seek new methods of teaching and learning, test the methods, and then reflect on the results. Building shared knowledge of both current reality and best practice is an essential part of each team’s decision-making process. • Action orientation and experimentation. Members of a PLC constantly turn their learning and insights into action. They recognize the importance of engagement and experience in learning and in testing new ideas. They learn by doing. • Commitment to Continuous improvement. Not content with the status quo, members of a PLC constantly seek better ways to achieve mutual goals and accomplish their fundamental purpose of learning for all. All teams engage in an ongoing cycle of: • Gathering evidence of current levels of student learning • Developing strategies and ideas to build on strengths and address weaknesses in that learning • Implementing the strategies and ideas • Analyzing the impact of the changes to discover what was effective and what was not • Applying the new knowledge in the next cycle of continuous improvement • Results orientation. Educators in a PLC assess their efforts on the basis of tangible results. They are hungry for evidence of student learning and use that evidence to inform and improve their practice. The success of the PLC concept depends not on the merits of the concept itself, but on the most important element in the improvement of any school—the commitment and persistence of the educators within it. *Adapted from the work of Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, and Robert Eaker. Information for StaffQ: How does this schedule impact the current teacher contract?A: The teacher contract day calls for 8 consecutive hours requiring 15 minutes before the start of the school day and 15minutes after the school day (Contract page 10; Work Day). Essentially, the contract spells out how 7 hours and 30minutes are to be used (out of an 8 hour required work day). Currently, there are 30 minutes daily of “unallocated”contract time which teachers use at their discretion. • A 60 minute PLC time will be created on Wednesday afternoons (using 30 minutes early student dismissal and 30 minutes of current unallocated teacher contract time). On Wednesdays, teachers would work an 8 hour day, but the “teacher work hours” would be adjusted: o Elementary Wednesday Teacher Workday: 7:24am – 3:24pm (8 hours total- includes 15 minutes before the start of the school day and includes the 60 minute PLC time at the end of the school day). o Middle School Wednesday Teacher Workday: 8:09am – 4:09pm (8 hours total - includes 15 minutes before the start of the school day and includes the 60 minute PLC time at the end of the school day). o High School Wednesday Teacher Workday: 8:03am – 4:03pm (8 hours total - includes 15 minutes before the start of the school day and includes the 60 minute PLC time at the end of the school day). o High School Teacher Workday for Zero Hour Teachers: 7:09am – 3:09pm (8 hours total - includes 15 minutes before the start of the school day and includes the 60 minute PLC time at the end of the school day which would happen during 7th period).Q: When would PLC time be scheduled?A: PLCs would begin at the end of the school day on Wednesdays:
o Elementary School PLC time: 2:24 -3:24pm o Middle School PLC time: 3:09 – 4:09pm o High School PLC time: 3:03 – 4:03pm o High School Zero Hour Teacher PLC time: Pending high school schedule adjustments on Wednesday (estimated: 2:09 – 3:09pm).Q: Is there any change in the total hours per week that teachers will work?A: No, teachers will continue to have a 40 hour work week with no more than 8 hours per day (as indicated in thecurrent teacher contract).Q: What are the hours of the teacher work day/work week next year?A: The schedule below indicates the hours of the teacher workday. Teachers are required by contract to work an 8 hourday. The schedule below reflects 15 minutes before the start of the day, the total instructional day and 15 minutes atthe end of the school day. All remaining time (totaling 8 hours daily) is determined by the teacher except onWednesdays (see Wednesday schedule below). Proposed Teacher Work Day M, T, Th, F Wednesday ScheduleElementary Teacher Start End Additional Time Start End Additional TimeMiddle School Teacher Time Time (Teacher Determined) Time Time (Teacher Determined)High School Teacher 7:24 3:00 +24 minutes 7:24 3:24 None 8:09 3:45 +24 minutes 8:09 4:09 NoneHS Zero Hour Teacher 8:03 3:45 +18 minutes 8:03 4:03 None 7:09 *2:47 *+24 minutes 7:09 3:09 None*Note- the zero hour teacher schedule is an estimation until the final high school schedule is determined. Essentially,zero hour teachers will still have an 8 hour day including at least 15 minutes before, periods zero through 6 of theinstructional day, and 15 minutes after 6th period. The remaining time is determined by the teacher (totaling 8 hours)except on Wednesdays.Q: How will zero hour teachers participate in the PLC initiative?A: Zero hour teachers will participate in PLCs during the high school 7th hour on Wednesdays with other zero hourteachers.Q: What flexibility is there for teachers when scheduling conflicts arise on PLC days?A: PLCs are a key, research-based strategy in the District’s continuous improvement efforts. 100% teacher participationin PLC meetings is encouraged. Unavoidably, unforeseen issues and scheduling conflicts will arise during the schoolyear. There will be provisions made for teachers who have unavoidable conflicts on PLC days such as doctorappointments, personal days, and other unavoidable conflicts; however, these exceptions will need to be approved bythe school principal. Every effort should be made to preserve the integrity of the PLC time.