PLCs in the SDMA

PLC's in the SDMA
Posted on 09/15/2017

One of the primary goals this year in the School District of the Menomonie Area is to have a renewed commitment to Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).  The SDMA has a proud tradition of academic and extracurricular success which has stemmed from having great kids, supportive parents, strong community partnerships, and effective collaboration amongst teachers and other support staff members in our schools.  Within the school district, much of this collaboration occurs through building, department, or grade-level PLCs.

According to the ALLTHINGSPLC website, a professional learning community (PLC) is defined as an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles 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.

Years ago, the SDMA allocated a significant amount of resources, time, and energy to ensure that PLCs could be successfully implemented in our schools.  Educators from all levels were provided a substantial amount of training and professional development, schedules were adjusted to provide common meeting times, and expectations were aligned with the best practices and research surrounding PLCs.

Over the years, the SDMA has continued to operate under a PLC model, and the district has maintained support for educators by sending a number of teachers and administrators to the Regional PLC Institute each summer.  Despite these ongoing efforts, SDMA leaders concluded that a renewed commitment to utilizing PLCs with fidelity could have a positive impact on student achievement and the overall success of our schools.

In addition to bringing in a PLC expert to provide a keynote address and facilitate workshops during our back-to-school inservice, the administrative team is working with SDMA educators to concentrate efforts on the three “big ideas” identified by Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, and Robert Eaker that include having a focus on learning, a collaborative culture, and orientation on results.  While work is underway in each of these three areas, perhaps one of the most powerful characteristics of a PLC is the ability to have collaborative conversations focused on the questions:

1. What do students need to know and be able to do?
2. How will we know when they have learned it?
3. What will we do when they have not learned it?
4. What will we do when they already know it?

Many of the answers to these guiding questions can already be answered through the district’s current approach to curriculum, assessment, academic intervention, and differentiated instruction, but streamlining processes through PLCs will help to ensure that SDMA educators have an effective research-based vehicle for the collaboration typically present in high functioning schools.

Should school families or stakeholders have any questions about PLCs in the school district, I invite you to visit with Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Brian Seguin or me at the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue or call us at 715-232-1642.  More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (, and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter ( and Facebook (