You’ve no doubt heard the term professional learning community (PLC), it’s common language within the educational world and growing in popularity every year. Many districts across the country have been implementing it for years while others, like my own, are making it a top priority this coming school year. Following the lead of many districts, mine will be having an early out every Wednesday to make the time for teacher PLC’s. So what is a PLC? And how can teachers/schools get the most of out of them? Is there a model to follow? While I have dabbled in PLC’s, this will be my first year truly incorporating them into my school year. I’d like to know the answers as much as you!
A professional learning community (PLC) involves much more than a staff meeting or group of teachers getting together to discuss a book they’ve read. Instead, a PLC focuses on continuous improvement in staff performance as well as student learning. It’s a process of intensive reflection upon instructional practices and desired student benchmarks, as well as the monitoring of outcomes to ensure success. PLCs enable teachers to continually learn from one another through shared visions and planning, as well as determining what does and doesn’t work to enhance student achievement.
So how do you and your team get started? Prior to beginning the process, teachers review student achievement data to identify a specific standard or standards on which many students are not meeting goals.
Teachers work in collaborative planning teams to examine critically and discuss standards-based learning expectations for students.
These teams select evidence-based instructional strategies for meeting the standards.
Teams develop a common lesson plan incorporating the selected strategies and identify the type of student work each teacher will use to demonstrate learning.
Teachers implement the planned lesson, record successes and challenges, and gather evidence of student learning.
Teams review student work and discuss student understanding of the standards.
Teams reflect on the implications of the analysis of student work and discuss potential modifications to instructional strategies.
While all of this sounds simple enough, without paying attention to best practices, schools may fail to reap the benefits of PLCs. Hopefully, the leader of your school is able to get everybody on board with PLC best practices.
1. A culture that supports collaboration;
2. The ability to take an objective/macro view of school efforts; and
3. Shared beliefs and behaviors.
It is not always easy to get everybody on board, hopefully over time and strong commitment by the majority of the staff those those that doubt the benefits will come around. If you are a doubter yourself, give it a chance, I know I will be!