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The Complete Guide for Implementing Professional Learning Communities

Several years ago, my colleague, Sarah Henry, and I decided to take a leap, honor our school district, and write a book called, Arrows: A Systems-Based Approach to School Leadership. Having served as middle-school teammates turned curriculum administrators, Sarah and I had an up close and personal perspective on what it took (and takes!) to create a sustainable system that places the decision-making power in the hands of the teachers. After nearly hundreds of school districts around our state came to visit, we all started to joke about, “One day when we write the book...” Then, one day, Sarah and I did just that.

We wrote Arrows because we believe that all students and teachers can thrive in our schools today. With aligned approaches, clear processes, and caring, responsive leaders, both students and teachers will thrive. Once Arrows was published, we decided it best to serve education as specialists and consultants--often working alongside district teams who were willing to lead with the “burden of no” as our prior district calls it.

Having spent the past several years coaching and planning with various districts across the United States, I have found that there is a need for more of a step-by-step guide on how to implement professional learning communities.

While Arrows tells an implementation story in action, I’ve created this guide to serve as simpler, resource-filled manual. I often talk about the power of third-points in teams, and so this is my third point for you: The Complete Guide for Implementing Professional Learning Communities. As always, I hope it helps you on your journey to leading with clarity and consistency.

The guide is designed for leadership teams (specifically at a district level). I would encourage teams to use this resource as a comparison to their current practice or plan for supporting or implementing professional learning communities. I've pulled together several of my favorite documents/resources so that this guide will link to what you need most:


  • 35 page document

  • Links to resources

  • Guidance on research and planning before implementation

  • Sample PLC Summit agenda

  • Sample PLC agenda

  • Sample building leadership team agenda

  • Curriculum Warehouse document

  • Sample Curriculum map/pacing guide

  • Examples of student-centered assessments

  • Resources and blogs to use with instructional leaders

  • PLC feedback prompts/stems

  • Guidance on data collection templates

  • Leadership plan for continued growth


Explore samples: Table of Contents

Planning and Research:

Planning Your Summit:

Training Your Leaders:

I tried to create a short, succinct guide that will provide you with the needed information in the needed order. Links to documents are provided, as well as suggested timelines.

Happy planning!

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