Professional Learning Communities: Breaking Them Down into Ps & Ls & Cs

This morning I had the wonderful opportunity to work and think with Dylan William around professional learning communities and formative assessment. There were a lot of things that struck home for me, but one was the way he broke down the term “Professional Learning Community.”

He shared how a PLC needs to be Professional – meaning that teachers are working together to improve, not that they are bad, but in order to become better. They need to be accountable to themselves as a community of peers in order to improve the learning of students. They become critical friends working together in a collaborative laboratory where we question, think, experiment, test, assess, and reflect. It involves a plan of action and peer-feedback, and looking at the problem as a team.

In his mind, a PLC needs to be focused on Learning – meaning not just teacher learning, but that we are focused on the improvement of student outcomes around learning, and that they are able to have evidence that this is taking place (or not) and why. In the end, it is not all about what did they learn, but what are we doing for those who did not learn, and how do we improve it for all.

Lastly, PLCs are Communities – meaning that teachers are engaged in a joint enterprise and are working together collaboratively; they have mutual engagement in the issues they are working together on, in order to become better educators.

One of the facts that he shared was that strangers can predict your IQ better then you can… I think this is a great example of our own perception levels in self-evaluation and why we must work together, as we all have times when we think we know what we’re doing or think our messaging is clear, but… As a principal, that happens to me often, and I utilize others to help me take a clear look at if I am being effective and how to I could improve.

One of the biggest points I took was that PLCs are not a teacher meeting. PLCs are not a team-planning meeting. They are not figuring out what you are doing next week or doing field trip forms or other minutia.

They are about helping ourselves and each other to become better at engineering student learning.

It would be interesting to ask the question of a large number of teachers: “Are you an above average teacher?” I don’t know of any teachers who would not agree… So, how do we help each other to become above above average educators? (AAA Educators?)

We are all emerging, and once we accept this, we will be on the road to excellent learning! Show me an amazing teacher, and you will show me an amazing learner… 🙂

Work hard and learn tons!



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