Professional Learning Communities

A professional learning community (PLC): 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. Professional learning communities operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators. It is composed of of collaborative teams whose members work interdependently to achieve common goals for which members are mutually accountable.

Educator teams meet weekly to design learning experiences, while focused on the four critical questions of a PLC.

  1. What do we want students to know and be able to do? What is it that we want our students to learn? What knowledge, skills, and dispositions do we expect them to acquire?

  2. How will we know when they have learned it? How will we know our students are learning? What evidence will we gather to ensure students understand the skills and concepts we are teaching?

  3. What will we do when they haven’t learned it? How will we respond when some of our students don’t learn?

  4. What will we do to extend the learning when they already know it? How will we respond when many of our students have already demonstrated proficiency in the skill or concept under consideration?


In addition, learners at Austin Elementary are engaged daily in enriching, interest-based experiences that allow them to follow their passion and make connections with their learning. These experiences allow our learners to build relationships with experts that share their passions and interests, understand their ability to impact our local/global community, and develop talents and skills that motivate them to meaningfully contribute to others. Our learners have access to the following learning experiences.

  • Embedded Time for Enrichment through PLCs

  • Learner Internships

  • Authentic Project-Based Learning Experiences

  • Virtual Field Trips