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Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Strong Start for PLCs

Years ago when we first started our PLCs, they had a bit of a military feel. The norms were shared and we were told to follow them. As you might expect, this kind of start resulted in some rebellion because it felt somewhat top-down, an add-on, and dictated.

Our PLCs and teachers like me have developed significantly since that early start. Now the process is much more familiar with a strong sense of team and mission. In fact, I think most teachers look forward to this weekly collaborative event, and I believe most of us would agree that our teaching and learning have grown substantially since the onset of the PLC.

Now I'm looking forward to next year's start of the PLC. What do I expect? Where do I see room for growth and development?

I expect that many of our PLCs will still be data driven. We'll use the data to discuss student needs and come up with creative, targeted plans to serve students well. That's terrific. I believe our PLCs will continue to be led by norms and a spirit of shared leadership. Everyone will get a chance to lead the group, take notes, and keep track of time. (I may be forgetting a norm here--but these are the main roles).

I'm wondering if we should spend some time upfront in our PLCs this year talking about our individual professional goals and questions. If we know where each other is directed, we can support each other better. I think it might be good to take a look at our styles too. I've read about PLC groups that do this. They all take a similar test and then discuss how their strengths and challenges are similar and different in a noncompetitive way. This also helps the PLC group to understand each other better.

As part of the Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI) that I'm involved in we took this leadership quiz: http://www.gotoquiz.com/leadership_style  The results were informative and gave us a place to start to think about our leadership style. Since PLCs utilize shared leadership, this could be good. I've also read about educators who use the online Meyers Briggs-like Assessment. Understanding each other's similarities and differences has the potential to build stronger PLC teams.

How do you plan to start your PLCs? What do you do to create a strong collaborative, supportive, and successful PLC culture? What norms and protocols guide your work?

These are all important questions to consider as we start the new teaching/learning year.