Professional Learning Community Day


 
On Friday, October 27, the Ithaca City School District held its district-wide Professional Learning Community (PLC) Day. All staff gathered in the school buildings they serve to focus on this year’s theme: Engaging All Students.
 
Administrators collaboratively planned learning for the day. ICSD staff from transportation, health and wellness, facilities, administration, and teaching rolled up their sleeves to read and discuss anchor texts, share personal stories, and consider how collaboration and empathy can transform lives and inspire change for all children.
 
Part of that desired change is the enhancement of a growth mindset: the belief that all children and adults can learn anything and that their intelligence can grow with instruction, effort, feedback, and practice. All staff used ideas related to growth mindset to explore strategies for problem-solving, communicating, and teaching students the social-emotional or academic skills to be successful in our schools. In the words of one participant, “The engagement was so palpable…the energy was intense in the room.”
 
This year’s PLC Day was a continuation of a learning journey that began last year when all staff engaged in discussion of a popular TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Staff discussed how defining family or student experience based on a single account yields an incomplete and potentially damaging understanding of other people.
 
In addition to participating in professional development days, ICSD school staff are enriching their thinking about diverse perceptions through the use of texts that are being read and discussed. Some titles include:
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta L. Hammond
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them by Ross W. Greene
  • Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning by Sharroky Hollie
  • Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School by Mica Pollock
 
The ICSD’s key levers are: inclusion, culturally responsive practices, and innovative teaching and learning. The focus on extending these strategies to all students, and the desire to bridge gaps of misunderstanding and pave the way for deep understanding for all students, inspired staff to learn more about how personal experiences shape perceptions and interactions with others.