Concordia International School Hanoi: A Professional Learning Community

Middle School Principal, Mr. Stephen Ly, shared insights with Concordia’s Parent Support Organization as we partner with parents for their children’s learning and development on what makes Concordia a Professional Learning Community (PLC). 

“If schools hope to ensure every student is supported to learn and grow, we ought to ensure every educator is supported to learn and grow,” said Mr. Ly.

A PLC school is a team of educators who share their teaching practice to create a learning community where all students can reach their full potential.  

The three big ideas that drive the collaborative work of a PLC school:

A focus on learning.
A focus on collaboration. (As a collective responsibility.)
A focus on evidence of student learning.

Concordia teachers are learners. They value the opportunity to work in a school that has a PLC framework to promote our student’s best learning outcomes. In order to do so, teachers connect and prepare for classes by reviewing four critical questions:

What do we want all students to know and to be able to do?
How will we know if they learn it?
How will we respond when some students do not learn?
How will we extend the learning for students who are already proficient?

The Bolt asked Concordia teachers about their PLC experiences while teaching and learning in the Concordia community.

Bart Maas, Middle School Teacher said, “What I like about PLC is that as teachers, we can work together, share ideas, and collaborate on strategies, both when sharing a grade or not. In general, this leads to better teaching and grading strategies and that leads to better student outcomes as well.

a teacher and three students

The fact that there is a specific time scheduled for these PLC meetings shows that leadership values this collaboration as well. I would like to work for a school that uses PLCs because that shows it values collaboration, professional growth and works on improving teaching practices.”

“For me, working in a PLC system means that time spent on collaborating is encouraged," said 
Brittany Stapley, grade 2 teacher. “This is important to ensure that students across the grade levels receive roughly the same standard of education. Obviously no two classes will ever be identical, but we want to ensure that students in each class are given resources and the environment to achieve in either class. Also, in Grade 2, we employ several co-teaching models. This helps our students  learn in a variety of ways and requires a lot of trust in each other. We are lucky in Grade 2 that we have an amazing team of educators with a strong sense of trust between us. 

I would also say that Mrs. Richmond and I are in and out of each other's rooms all the time. Our kids move between rooms often for different activities. This helps us know the names of all the students and also helps the student recognize that all of the teachers are there to support and help them. Students are surrounded by people who care for them and want them to grow. 

I don't think I would ever want to work at a school where collaboration wasn't the standard practice. The saying ‘two brains is better than one’ has always felt true in education. At Concordia, particularly, I have noticed that there is a true spirit of camaraderie. Every educator is working together to ensure our students have the best possible education, feel valued, and learn to be responsible citizens.” 

Dr. Emanuel Santos, Concordia’s Director of STEM, stated "At Concordia, I have found it easy to collaborate with colleagues and staff across all divisions and departments. This collaborative effort allows us to identify needs and create opportunities for students to actively contribute to the improvement of our school through data science, programming, and engineering projects. In doing so, PLC not only fosters professional collaboration but also places a strong emphasis on improving the overall learning experience for our students. The school creates an environment for the students to flourish, and the students actively contribute to the constant improvement of their school."

a teacher and a student

Grade 4 teacher, Andrea Goodrich shared, “Having a designated time to meet with my teaching partner provides the space to develop the curriculum in ways that are more difficult in short periods of time. The time we have worked together in the past year has allowed us to become more familiar with the standards we expect our students to master. The time together allows for intervention and extension so that we can meet the needs of all our students.”

Middle School Humanities teacher, Dr. Mer Mills stated, “With each PLC, we open with a reminder of our goals for the meeting that day, making sure we each have clear goals for the meeting. As part of this, we set very specific, measurable and actionable goals for the meeting. I feel like I learn as much from the experiences of my colleagues as I do from my own. One of the most valuable aspects to the PLC framework is found through shared resources, materials and just general knowledge. As our students know (and LOVE), we often use actual student work by which to make informed decisions. Data helps our team to identify areas of improvement and to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and interventions. One of my favorite aspects of PLC's is that they encourage me to engage in ongoing professional development and to seek out best practices. I am constantly evaluating my own practice and determining what I could do more efficiently or more effectively.”

To best support Concordia’s Core Values, we are committed to being a Professional Learning Community school.