Education & Public Policy

Dr. Richard DuFour

Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work

Dr. Richard DuFour

"All the research is pointing to the fact that the best strategy for sustained, substantive school improvement is developing the capacity of school personnel to function as a learning community."

For the October 2010 Executive Briefing we spoke with Dr. Richard DuFour, co-author of the best seller, Professional Learning Communities at Work, as well as  Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap: Whatever It Takes. DuFour was principal of the award-winning Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL from 1983 to 1991 and superintendent of the district from 1991 to 2002. The following is an abridged version of our interview with Dr. DuFour.

Q: If I were to visit a school district that claims to be a learning community what are some of the signs that it is indeed a learning community?

Richard DuFour: A learning community is a place where the faculty has come together and has a sense of shared purpose, and a sense of the school they are trying to create, and they’ve made collective commitments to creating that school. When you walk into a learning community you’d see teachers working together in collaborative teams engaged in collective inquiry. There would be a focus on data and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Teachers would be continually asking, “What are we trying to accomplish?” “What evidence do we have that we are in fact accomplishing it?” and, “What are our strategies for getting better?” The structure and the appearance of the school might not be significantly different, but the way the people operate would be significantly different.

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