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Establishing and Monitoring PLCs: Know Thy Impact

Establishing and Monitoring PLCs: Know Thy Impact


Overall learning goal

The focus for this two day seminar is twofold. The aim for the first day is preparing the Lead Data Team (LDT) member to establish a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in each of Quebec’s english schools in four to five years from now.

A second focus, for day two of the seminar, will be on ‘Learning for Us’, including four panel presentations on pre-identified themes. The goal will be to develop a common and deeper understanding of each theme.


In order to accomplish its aim to support English sector school boards and school teams by building capacity, this Lead Data Team (LDT) seminar will focus on how to establish a Professional Learning Community (PLC)/Data Team (DT) in each of Québec’s English language schools in four-five years from now. Starting with the end in mind, the process will help to ascertain where we are now, analyze what actions must be taken to realize the goal, and map those actions through an action mapping exercise. A second focus, for day 2 of the seminar, will be on ‘Learning for Us’ and will open with four panel presentations on pre-identified themes. The goal will be to develop a common and deeper understanding of each theme. There is also time during this seminar for members to participate in and offer solutions for a problem of practice. The process throughout this two day seminar will include structured discussions, intentional reference to models and evidence and reflections in practice. Participants will take part in a number of individual and group activities including group discussions following the presentations.


Instructional design

Warm up

Introduction of self by others: Participants introduce someone else at the seminar, giving as much info about them as possible in 30 seconds.

The facilitator introduces the two topics and activities for the two day seminar before introducing the first activity. The focus for day 1 is preparing to establish a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in each of Quebec’s english schools.  Day 2’s focus is on ‘Learning for Us’ and includes four presentations.

Poster charts posted around the room represent the artifacts of the LDT’s collective memory. These are the building blocks for what’s being learned at the current seminar and will continue to inform future learning.


Participants are invited to record in their journals their personal goal for this seminar.

Day 1: The end in mind

The end in mind. In order to reach the goal of establishing a PLC in each English-language school five years from now, participants work as a team to ascertain where they are now, analyze what actions must be taken to realize the goal, and map those actions through an action mapping exercise.

Activity 1 - knowledge activation strategy

Knowledge activation strategy: In two teams, participants recall, reflect and develop a common understanding of what the LDT has achieved to-date and remind themselves of the discussions and decisions of past seminars. In five minutes, participants write down as many facts about the last two seminars as possible before sharing them with the whole group.

Activity 2 - schools on the map

Schools on the map: The end in mind -  five years from now there is one data team or PLC per school. In order to achieve that, participants must locate all their schools.

  • Step 1: Use pin to locate your current schools

  • Step 2: For each of the schools, indicate the presence of a data team or a plc

  • Step 3: Assess the implementation in each school

  • Step 4: Discussion about the visual obtained; if you were to go on site, what would you need to see or hear to collect that information?

  • Step 5: Summary: what is the evidence that the PLC is having an impact?

The facilitator makes connections to future discussion during the two days.

Personal reflection: If you were to visit schools with data teams, what would be the evidence of implementation?

Day 1: As an introduction to the next activity, the facilitator shows the Action Mapping slideshow from http://blog.cathy-moore. The slideshow shows a simplified version of the theory of change model. Its key idea is that we should focus on action: What do we need to do on the job to reach our goals?

Activity 3 - Action Mapping

Action Mapping: Participants map all the actions that need to be taken to meet the goal of one data team per school and categorize them under: knowledge, skills, motivation and environment. Participants form three teams.

  • Round 1, the groups write down the goal (one PLC/data team per school), brainstorm the key actions needed to target the goal, and record them

  • Round 2, one randomly assigned person from each group changes to a new group. The newly formed groups now take each key action and break it down

  • Round 3, a different person moves to a new group. The next task of the re-formed group is to clean up and consolidate the actions. The charts are then displayed and discussed.

Activity 4 – Giving support

Giving support: Participants are asked to identify one school principal from the mapping exercise, determine the level of implementation of their data team, and decide what support the principal needs to have the data team move forward. They are asked to select two actions from the action mapping charts: the most important (loudest) element and the most discrete element. Participants each explain which level their selected principal has attained.

Day 2: Warm up

With a visual of the world’s tallest skyscraper, the facilitator asks the team to solve a hypothetical problem: You live on the topfloor of the world’s tallest building (4 km) and you have a dog that must be walked twice a day. How much time will it take to walk the dog each day? The problem is discussed in small groups. The many unknown variables must be quantified before an answer can be reached, i.e. data was missing.

Activity 5 - Summarizing Day 1

Participants are invited to participate in developing a summary of the previous day's proceedings and report back to the group, working in pairs.

Activity 6 - Panel discussions

The four topics for the panel discussion are introduced and norms and roles are set for the activity.

Activity 2 - Panel discussions: The presentations and subsequent discussions allow participants to share an experience from their practice.

  • Panel 1: Tracking and monitoring success

  • Panel 2: Know thy impact

  • Panel 3:  Formative assessment

  • Panel 4: Using research-based strategies

Activity 7 - Problem of Practice

An LDT member introduces the notion of the consultancy protocol, a structured process for helping an individual or a team to think more expansively about a particular, concrete problem.

Activity 7 - Problem of Practice: A team member has the opportunity to share a problem of practice and allow the group to bring forward solutions. The exercise has four parts: A member of the group brings forward a problem of practice for discussion; the group asks clarification questions; the problem of practice is discussed; the presenter reflects on/reacts to the suggestions put forward in the discussion. The discussion can include issue clarification, emergent ideas and solutions.

Activity 8 - Keeping ahead of the curve

Keeping ahead of the curve - An LDT member uses a concept map to help make the connection between the work being done in the community, participants’ own learning and the benefits of the PLC LDT. An important focus at all three levels is to ‘know thy impact’. In order to ensure value added, What data can we collect to tell us that?  Our artifacts are our data. They show us the impact we are having. We need to leave traces of the work we are doing.

Activity 8 - Keeping ahead of the curve:
Participants are asked to write down one or two area that they would like to focus on to develop their expertise, e.g. formative assessment, before forming a group with other who chose the same topics.


Possible issues for the next meeting - What is accountability? Are teachers accountable for their students’ successes?

Looking ahead: Following a discussion, it was agreed that for the next seminar, the first two chapters of Learning by Doing by the Dufours, and Anthony Muhammad's and Susan Stevenson books would be studied.