PLCs – otherwise known as Professional or Personal Learning Communities, are another one of those educational buzz word acronyms that keeps creeping its name around schools. We teachers are told “Go out and form your PLC.”
Having a network of professional development is by no means a new concept. Teachers have been seeking professional development since the era of Socrates. When most teachers think of “professional development,” they think of sitting in a room after school and having an outside consultant who hasn’t been in a classroom in years, come in and tell you how to do something. There’s usually a cringe accompanied by this thought. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing all educational consultants. Full disclosure – I’m one, myself.
I personally prefer “Personal Learning Community” over “Professional Learning Community” because when it’s personal, you get to define what it means for you.
Who informs your instruction? Is it your principal? Your department chair? Another member in your department? Is it a college professor you had/have? Someone who teaches across the hall from you? Someone in a teacher’s organization? Someone on a list-serv to which you subscribe? A blogger?
The thing about teaching is that it’s both a science and an art. No matter what science a teacher brings to the craft, there’s still the art of how you approach instruction. Every artist works differently – and this when teaching gets really neat – because you take your lessons and activities into so many directions.
Good instruction comes from constant self-reflection and tweaking of approaches. Sometimes you can’t see something because of your vantage point as teacher. Sometimes you need an extra set of eyes in the back of the room to show you a different perspective. This is when bringing in another educator from your building to offer some friendly constructive criticism.
Here are some ideas for generating your own PLC: