Six Wenatchee School District teacher-leaders presented to a packed room at the Washington Educational Research Association (WERA)/OSPI Annual Conference in Seattle on December 7th. The theme of the conference was, "Disrupting the Status Quo: Ensuring Equity, Engagement and Achievement for all Washington Learners." In the 75-minute session entitled “From Action Research to System Change: PLC Unit Planning as a Roadmap to Equity, Engagement & Achievement,” team leaders from five professional learning communities (PLCs) explained the K-5 unit planning process undertaken during the 2017-2018 school year. Due to powerful evidence, which showed that the practices in the action research project were highly effective, a system change was made to refine elementary reading assessments and to share unit planning materials with all elementary teachers district-wide.
The conference presenters included Alicen Gaytley, Instructional Programs Coordinator, who had been the instructional coach leading the project, and five grade-level team leaders involved in the action research project, including Tiffany Hepton, Kindergarten at Mission View; Renee Wilkens, 1st Grade at Washington; Heidi O’Banion, 1st Grade at Mission View; Todd Gaytley, 4th Grade at Lincoln; and Jodee Smith, 4th grade at Washington Elementary. The group shared the story of how 22 teachers, with the support of instructional coaches and the district GLAD agency trainers, collaborated to make the PLC Action Research Project a success.
In the months following the action research project, elementary teachers were invited to continue the work of unit planning for Unit 1 last spring, and to come to a three-day summer camp for all units in August. Over 75 elementary teachers and instructional coaches directly contributed to the unit planning work in the 2017-2018 school year. This year, instructional coaches have continued the work to get assessments ready to use. Elementary teachers in the Wenatchee School District are encouraged to use the unit planning resources now available to them to increase the effectiveness of their professional learning communities and student outcomes.