By engaging in the cyclical, strategic, evidence-based process of Cycles of Continuous Improvment (Plan, Do, Study, Act), we:
- Promote action and accountability through the use of timely data to inform progress and improve adult practices toward our intended goals;
- Gain clarity through detailed information about particular adult practices to identify important connections between actions and results;
- Ensure that learning is put into practice resulting in shared ownership and responsibility, building our own and others capacity toward enhanced collective efficacy.
Cycles of Continuous Improvement
PDSA and PLCs: The “Thinking Classroom” is heavily supported through two collaborative processes that empower our 27J Schools staff toward continuous improvement – PDSA and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). The PDSA process stands for Plan, Do, Study, Act. The PDSA process is an informal set of guidelines that help us get results and can be applied to all aspects of continuous improvement throughout our school district system. School principals and Student Achievement leaders engage in the work through PDSA on a regular basis. Schools’ Unified Improvement Plans (UIPs) are brought to life through this strategic way of approaching continuous improvement at the school level as well as through Student Achievement leaders at the district level.
Engaging in the PDSA process requires us to intentionally shift the way we think about and approach our work in such a way that it drives strategic action! Essentially, during the Plan portion of the process, we ask ourselves, “What do we want to accomplish and what do we need to learn?” We also determine what and how we will monitor the progress we’re making on what we set out to accomplish. Within the Do portion, we describe what behaviors we expect to see and hear based on that learning. As we monitor our progress of what we are doing, the results provide us with information that is analyzed during the Study portion. Based on what the data tells us, we determine our next steps and Act upon them.
Another way to look at this is similar to the “Thinking Classroom”. We Plan an action that we are going to take on and how we will collect evidence on its effectiveness. We agree on Doing something and take personal responsibility. We Study what we are doing through the impacts of our efforts. We Act through celebrating and continuing or adjusting our efforts toward the Plan. This PDSA cycle of continuous improvement allows us to grow, learn, fail forward, and not give up on our goals.
During the school day, teachers engage in a very similar process within PLCs. A professional learning community, or PLC, is a group of teachers that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students. Teacher teams use this process to tune into student evidence of learning and offer support and enrichment for students.
This PLC process of continuous improvement can be described as: Teachers meet to use data, determine essential learning targets, and create common formative assessments. They teach and administer the common formative assessment. Once they have the results from students, they meet with their PLC teammates again to determine students’ level of mastery, analyze the results, and discuss next instructional strategies to either further support or go deeper with specific groups of students. They do so by providing students with interventions or enrichments based on the common formative assessment results.
During this process, teachers are able to determine holes in their curriculum, gaps in their evidence, and proven instructional practices that their peers are finding successful with their learners. Principals tune into the effective instructional practices to adjust the professional learning or provide coaching support at the school level. Student Achievement monitors the systems within schools to identify key strategies that lead to better assessments, curricular frameworks, etc. which ultimately leads to better support of schools.