Earlier this year, the Northeast Comprehensive Center’s Regional Innovations in Learning Team launched a professional learning community (PLC) focused on the Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness (DTSDE). The aim of the course is to explore the use of the DTSDE for successfully adopting organizational structures, systems, and best practices to create a culture of success within the district and community.  Districts represented in the course are: Mount Vernon City, Newburgh Enlarged City, Wellsville Central, Brockport Central, Cobleskill-Richmondville Central, Hyde Park Central, Kingston City, Rochester City, Wyandanch UFSD, and Yonkers City.

Monica George-Fields, Senior Fellow for School Innovation for the New York State Education Department, said “I believe the PLC and Certification experiences will lead to new ways for districts to communicate and support each other.  These programs also demonstrate the types of hands-on support the State is providing districts, which demonstrates the State’s willingness to be a thought partner with districts in the work of improvement.”

Districts participating in the PLC have picked an area of focus from their District Comprehensive Improvement Plan (DCIP), which is a tool developed to detail how a district plans to improve instruction, and will use the DTSDE rubrics to achieve greater capacity. Participation in the PLC has provided districts with an opportunity to engage with other districts, national and state experts, and organizations dedicated to education reform and innovation in a collaborative, rich learning environment. Through usage of the DTSDE resources and collaboration, each district’s implementation of turnaround goals and initiatives are supported.

The PLC started in January 2014 and will run through July 2014. The course convenes for face-to-face and web-based interactive sessions with a theme of focus for each month, moderated by topic experts, NYSED senior staff, and/or RRF fellows. Participating districts may also facilitate a discussion forum if they choose to. Once a topic is selected, all materials and resources are uploaded to the online platform and short weekly activities are assigned. During select months, there will be a face-to-face session following the activities.

January’s session brought all ten districts together to explore fundamental concepts such as mission and vision statements and project and time management. February’s focus has been systems thinking. Mary Scheetz, trainer and consultant, Waters Foundation-Systems Thinking Group, indicated, “systems thinking provides an ideal set of strategies to support the work of the DTSDE PLC.  Using the habits and tools of systems thinking enables educational leaders to analyze current results from multiple perspectives that reflect an understanding of the dynamic, complex nature of the challenges to be addressed.  Pairing systems thinking with other models or organizational change can inform our processes and guide us to the results we desire.” Participants gathered on the 27th and 28th to collaborate and share their ideas on the month’s topics.

The Regional Innovations in Learning Team specializes in capacity building PLCs. If your district has a project that would benefit from a PLC, please contact us at http://goo.gl/jvMMnW.

 Monique C. Morgan, Anushka Paul, Emily Rukobo Regional Innovations in Learning Team

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