Monday, August 13, 2012

The start of a Professional Learning Community

I feel I have an apology to make to my former coworkers. I certainly never helped us go towards a Professional Learning Community* model. I was a part of the gossip resistance, the groaning, the moaning, the occasional (or not so occasional) eye rolling. I'm not proud of it. My previous notions of a PLC were that it would take away our creativity in the classroom, force us to have unnatural and unfocused conversations, and would treat us like technicians instead of professionals. I did not keep these opinions to myself.

To be fair to myself I'd heard friends at other schools share horrifying experiences of such events, and I'd experienced a bad PLC community at the first school I worked in. So I wasn't completely pulling things out of my rear end. But I could have given it more of a chance than I did when it came to the Think-Tank.

So, yeah, I'm really sorry.

Today at the new school we sat together from 9 until after 3 discussing the ins and outs of a Professional Learning Community. That's a long time to sit in one room with a group of people you've just met. Yet it went by relatively quickly and I don't necessarily know how you'd build a PLC without putting that time in up front. Now that I understand the thought behind the process, the why behind the how, I realize how wrong I was with every one of my assumptions.

The idea behind a PLC isn't to create a top down structure that makes sure every teacher is teaching the same thing in every classroom in the exact same manner every day. The idea is to create a team of people who are capable of coming together as professionals, identifying goals, analyzing data, looking for creative solutions, trying new techniques, sharing their thoughts, ideas, successes and failures together under the overarching umbrella goal of ensuring that all children learn.

It is doing daily action research in the classroom. It is a constant dialogue of how we can improve. It is collaborating openly and honestly outside of classroom walls. It is being willing to share great ideas, successes, and struggles with colleagues.

I'm not exactly sure what we'd been running from because that's exactly how every educator I know wants to teach.

I'm going to try to chronicle my own PLC journey as I continue to understand it and watch it go from a theory into practice. It will be my thoughts and my interpretation of what's been presented, so please don't read this as the true PLC method.

*If you're not familiar with PLCs you can learn more here or just substitute the phrase "really collaborative team" whenever I use PLC.

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