Episode 44 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores the pros and cons of Professional Learning Communities.
In this episode we will explore professional learning communities, often referred to as PLCs.
What Professional Learning Communities ARE
They are typically (note the word “typically”):
Groups of teachers or trainers, from the same organisation, gathering regularly to learn together and share good practice and ideas
Led by teachers, not senior leadership
Part of an organisation’s CPD schedule
Led by a teacher facilitator (although the facilitator could easily change every time of there is a standard agenda and process)
Planned well in advance with themes
Face-to-face (although there is no reason online wouldn’t work)
What Professional Learning Communities ARE NOT
PLCs should not be (note the word “should”):
For Union related discussion
To gather data
Benefits of PLCs
There are many benefits to PLCs. They can:
Empower teachers through the ownership of their CPD
Create a feeling of togetherness - this is important for teachers in need of support
Be a place for innovation and creative idea generation
Foster relationships between colleague
Create opportunities for peer observation, support and mentorship
Where They Go Wrong
PLCs are an incredible tool. But they can and will go wrong. Here are problems to expect:
Teachers not having time to attend
Part-time staff not being in school at the time of the PLC
Deciding whether attendance should be compulsory or not
Perception of who drives/wants the PLC - if it is top down this is going to cause issues
No single point of contact and co-ordination
Lack of understanding of the purpose of PLCs
Let’s chat in the Facebook group.
Questions to consider if your organisation has PLCs already:
Are they working?
What’s going well?
Questions to consider if your organisation doesn’t have PLCs:
Could they work?
Could you pitch the idea?
Who is the right person to pitch to/co-ordinate?
Questions to consider of you are a solo trainer:
Could you join an online PLC/trainer community?
Could you start one?
The Teaching Space Staff Room
Obviously I would love our Facebook group to more closely resemble a PLC, but I don’t think it’s likely for several reasons.
For starters, I don’t see Facebook as a professional platform. Also, it’s too easy to get distracted while you are there! The group (and this podcast) is for a wide variety of teachers and trainers. For a PLC to work, I think there needs to be a commonality, whether it’s the age group of your learners, your subject or the level your teach.
That being said, I believe members of my group and listeners to this podcast have one specific teaching related thing in common and that is the desire to be the best teacher you can without sacrificing weekends!
I would like to create some online PLCs but not on Facebook - let me know what you think about this.
If the concept of PLCs is interesting to you, here are websites and articles with more information:
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Also, check out my new book, The Productive Teacher at theproductiveteacherbook.com.