George Lucas Educational Foundation

Professional Learning Communities (PLC)

Professional Learning Communities (PLC)

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I learned that some of the activities I have been participating in actually has a name its referred to as professional leaning communities (PLC). As a teacher who taught in both regular and in special education I value the input of others. I wouldn't be the teacher trainer I am today without community. Over the years my favorite online communities have been teachers' TV where there are clips on deferential learning and examples of how to teach children with specific disabilities. On my job I have formed a support group with the head teachers of the special schools. We trade war stories, we learn from search other and we actively examine areas that needs changing and the methods that may work. I attended webinairs online on teaching students who are blind. At international conferences with other special education officers and teachers. We learn from each other, we share our frustrations and we keep in touch by email. One of my colleagues is taking a sabbatical to come and work with me in my department for a year. What I now know to be PLCs is a valuable practice, a habit for any teacher to cultivate because it keeps us sane and we realized we are not alone in the struggle to be teachers in a unfriendly system.

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Amy's picture
Seventh grade reading teacher and Walden University student

I have been teaching for 17 years in the same school and until I became a Walden University student, I did not know what PLCs were or that our staff (in a way) participated in them. We may not call it a PLC, but that is what it is. Built into our daily schedule are two 45 minute blocks. One block is for planning and the other is for "Team Meetings" - our PLC time. Once a week our administrators and special education staff join our meetings. It is during this time that our conversations have a more meaningful direction. Rarely, do I find our team meetings to have much value. While it is true, we discuss topics like student achievement or support each other with difficult students, I believe it would be more benefitial to organize PLC's according to our subject areas. I am grateful for the PLC my classes at Walden University have naturally become as I have already learned a great deal from my colleagues in this first class. I do not mean to discredit the conversations and support I recieve from my grade-level team. I simply feel it would be more benefitial for me to meet in subject teams. This would be especially important to me since I am changing subject areas next year. I hope to learn more about PLC's that I can share with my colleagues.

Laura Brown's picture
Laura Brown
5th grade science teacher from NJ

My school does PLC meetings for 45 minutes every Tuesday after school. We meet with our departments each time. The challenge I face is that I am the only 5th grade science teacher. My principal has me meet with the only 6th grade science teacher. This is ok when we are discussing behavior management strategies or science lab usage. However, we do not teach the same curriculum, therefore, it is quite difficult to really plan and coordinate lessons. I would prefer to change it up occasionally. Perhaps, once a month we could have grade level meetings rather than it always being departments.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

Laura, that strikes me as being potentially useful for the school and not just for your own situation. Maybe you can ask to try it one month as a test and see how it goes.

L Walker's picture
L Walker
1st grade teacher from Georgia

I feel that PLC's are very supportive and are a valuable asset to all educators. Having the opportunity to share and network with other professionals in the same professional area that you are apart of is beneficial to you as a teacher as well as your students. Teachers are given the opportunity to learn from each other while creating strategies to increase student success.

LaQuita Middleton-Holmes's picture

It is great that you value the opinions of others and have created your own professional learning community! Kudos on those!

I am beginning to see the value in sharing and receiving information from my colleagues. I am beginning to allow myself to open up to this opportunity and it has worked very well so far.

One issue that I have come across is selecting the best community for you. When conversing with retired educators overall, their perspective seems to be negative toward education. They are happy about being able to retire and not having to work with children anymore. The problem with this small group of teachers as members of your PLC is that their disposition will likely have an effect on your disposition. Then your "inherited" negative disposition will jeopardize the learning outcomes of your students.

It is for this reason that I have learned to choose my community wisely. I love teaching and I do not want to surround myself with teachers who are experiencing a burnout or rustout.

Let me ask: What has been the effect on your students before and after creating your PLC? Has there been any standout teaching styles, activities, etc., that came from your PLC? Also, you mentioned that you have worked in the special education sector as well as the "regular" sector. Did you notice a difference in your PLC's from both sectors?

leilea0830's picture
Pre-K teacher

I am currently learning about PLC in my class that I am taking. Viewing several videos and reading the post on this blog have given me insight on what type of school and community I would like to be a part of once I start working in a school system.

SissyFritz's picture

I am a student at Walden.

I have been working in a PLC school for one year.
I absolutely love it!

SissyFritz's picture

I am in my 6th week at Walden too!
I am working in a PLC school and absolutely love it but it was a challenge at first because it is not what I was taught in school.
I have a wonderful support system and that has made the experience even better...collaboration and honesty are essential.

Leslie Howell's picture

I am in my first year of teaching, actually my fourth day, and I haven't really experienced the whole PLC concept YET. Our faculty have all been told the importance of working with our colleagues to better ensure our students are receiving what they need from us as teachers. However, my school is a little separated with regards to how the "special" students are considered. Our SPED team was told to join a PLC related to the grades we teach. Well, I teach 3rd and 5th grade and haven't yet been well-received by the gen ed teachers of these grades. But, I AM new and am hoping that with time, they will include me in the grade-related discussions and decisions. I strongly believe in working with colleagues. I feel it helps in more ways than one. It's great for the students but also a teacher's sanity. Here's hoping things turn around soon.

SMEK's picture

I teach in an average to low income school that has always had a very progressive mindset when it comes to professional development. As I have been reading I am surprised to see the amount of PD that I have received that can be viewed as aPLC. My superintendent has always stressed that we are our own best asset and that we need to tap into the resources we have, especially when funds are low. I think if more schools would recognize the talent and wealth of knowledge their teachers have then they would promote cooperative learning groups across grade-levels and subject areas.

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