If you haven’t been placed in a PLC or are unsure of the acronym (it is Professional Learning Community) then welcome to the twenty-first century! DuFour, Elmore, Garmston and other authors, researchers and presenters have strongly advocated for teacher teams since the later part of the 1990’s. Teaming, the forerunner of PLCs started out as a part of the middle school concept and has been shown to foster teacher satisfaction and student achievement.
The trouble is that many schools have approached the idea of Professional Learning Communities with a checklist mentality. Okay, we need PLCs. Okay, everyone is placed on a PLC. Okay, on to the next initiative.
If only issuing an edict: “Go therefore and collaborate” produced great results. However, it doesn’t.
The sixth Institute for Excellence in Education (IEE) belief is: Collaboration is not optional. It is absolutely essential to meet the needs of 21st century learners and collaboration is a skill that must be learned and practiced.
Unfortunately we aren’t born with the innate ability to collaborate and it doesn’t come hand-in-hand with teacher certification. Adults must be taught the skills of collaboration. We do not naturally pause, paraphrase, pose questions, provide data, presume positive intentions,
pay attention to self and others or put ideas on the table. These are powerful and specific skills that must be learned and practiced. When these skills of collaboration are used, teachers and students benefit greatly from a culture that supports both teaching and learning.
How might the skills of collaboration change PLCSs in your building?