PLCs at work at Northwest AEA

What is a Professional Learning Community (PLC)? Employees at Northwest AEA have studied this model and have been putting it into practice for a few years. The term PLC seems simple but the benefits it brings to a team and an organization can be plentiful.

One of the leading experts of PLCs, Rick DuFour, defines a PLC as “a collaboration of teachers, administrators, parents, and students who work together to seek out best practices, test them in the classroom, continuously improve processes, and focus on results.”

According to DuFour, there are distinct characteristics of PLCs, including:
•    shared mission, vision and values
•    collective inquiry
•    collaborative teams
•    action orientation and experimentation
•    continuous improvement
•    results orientation

AEA employees collaborate with peers in the same or similar discipline and choose a topic they would like to explore. They meet regularly to talk about findings or conduct their own research in their respective fields.

By collaborating and contributing their ideas, teams bring creative and innovative services to students and families they serve. Learning together creates teamwork and a shared purpose. It can also bring continuous improvement and meaning to the work performed on a daily basis so that student achievement can grow.

Each month this year, I plan to highlight work done by one of our PLC groups to demonstrate levels of insight and creativity. We hope that it will inspire your own work.

This month’s featured PLC work was created by early childhood educators at the AEA, who explored birth-to-five language and literacy kits. Their research question focused on, “Does experience with early childhood literacy kits increase the opportunities for success with early literacy kits?” The early childhood educators involved included Julie Berens, Julie Cunningham, Margaret Holland, Chris Kleinschmidt, Sara Klingensmith, Jessica Niles, Honore Pittenger and Terri Porter.

This PLC developed five literacy kits to be used by teachers and support staff in the classroom. The kits included materials, adaptation suggestions, and a variety of technology resources. To learn more, see the Northwest AEA PLC work here:

We work to supplement our service delivery with informational blogs that we hope will inform, inspire and guide your daily work. Please check them out here:

For a complete listing of all blogs, please go to the Northwest AEA website. You can also sign up for an RSS feed to automatically receive blog updates (instructions provided on the Northwest AEA website).

Educationally yours,

Dr. Tim Grieves
Chief Administrator