Professional Learning Communities in the Expanded Learning Field


pdf Leading The Way to a Successful Professional Learning Community
pdf Professional Learning Communities in the Expanded Learning Field

Summary

Expanded learning opportunities can engage young people in meaningful, rigorous learning experiences after school, during the summer, and on weekends. Kids in high-quality expanded learning programs are more likely to attend school, broaden their horizons, and learn new skills. Likewise, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) can improve staff members’ practice by engaging adults in meaningful conversations about their work and encouraging them to practice new skills. Too often, however, organizations rely on short-term fixes, like brief workshops, to help these professionals hone their craft.

Public Profit was contracted by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation to gain a deeper understanding of what characteristics make PLCs effective and lead to quality programing.

 

The Question: What makes a successful PLC?

The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation sought to take stock of its multi-year investment in PLCs for out-of-school time staff. It wanted to understand what the research shows characterizes a successful Professional Learning Community in expanded learning.

 

The Process: Determining steps for creating a successful PLC

Public Profit reviewed and summarized more than a decade of research for a white paper, Professional Learning Communities in the Expanded Learning Field. We made easy-to-use guides for expanded learning practitioners with summaries of things to keep in mind when considering, planning, and evaluating PLCs.

 

The Outcome: PLCs gain traction as a professional development model

The white paper and practitioner guides received an enthusiastic reception in the expanded learning field. National organizations including the National AfterSchool Association and Center for Youth Program Quality encouraged their networks to use the guides to inform their practice. The findings will be reported in several journals in the expanding learning field.

Even more importantly, the paper and guides have sparked a conversation about how to enhance supports for expanded learning professionals.

S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

In 1957 Stephen D. Bechtel (former Chairman and CEO of the Bechtel Corporation, a major global engineering and construction company) created the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation as a personal commitment to the prosperity he envisioned and desired for California. The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Stephen Bechtel Fund (“the Foundation”) envision a productive, vibrant, and sustainable California that is a model of success and a source of innovation. The Foundation’s Education Program focuses on helping young people develop the knowledge, skills, and character they need to become productive, engaged citizens. The Foundation supports students and educators in STEM education and character development, and encourages effective education policy.