How Do Professional Learning Communities Work?

Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) can radically change learning on a campus. Teachers are in their own classrooms every day with students preparing and delivering instruction. 

As a teacher, I often wondered if my delivery or lesson design was as good as it could be, and how I could change things to ensure that I was meeting the needs of all my students. With the exception of student assessment and occasional feedback from administrators, I was left to try to figure it out on my own.

Many of the teachers on your campus likely feel the same way. However, professional learning communities change that by fostering a collaborative environment that focuses on student learning and equips teachers to excel in their roles.

Let’s delve into what PLC’s are, their key components, and the benefits they bring to a campus.

What are PLC’s?

Professional learning is the foundation of teaching and learning for both the educator and the students. PLC’s move schools beyond the required campus professional development. Professional Learning Communities support professional growth for teachers and better outcomes for students. These communities work together to accomplish grade, school and district-level goals.

Key Components of a Professional Learning Community

There are six key components of PLC’s:

    1. Shared Mission, Vision, Values and Goals: members of PLC’s work together to establish common goals to ensure the growth of the community’s members and lead to improved learning outcomes for students.
    2. Collaboration: This is the key to a successful PLC. Teachers work as a team to achieve the established goals and vision. When a member faces challenges, others provide support and resources to ensure their success. Collaboration involves sharing data, exploring new ideas, continuously assessing goals, and refining strategies.
    3. Collective Inquiry: PLC members examine current practices and research best practices. They collaborate to fine-tune their instruction, ensuring effective and engaging teaching methods for student success.
    4. Action-Oriented: Action drives PLC’s! Teachers analyze data to inform instruction and support continuous improvement of their practices.
    5. Committed to Continuous Improvement: The work of a PLC is never done! Members are constantly striving to enhance their teaching and coaching methods, sharing resources and knowledge to facilitate growth.
    6. Results Oriented: The success of a PLC relies on improvement and growth. Regular assessment of efforts is essential to ensure the achievement of set goals.

    Benefits of Professional Learning Communities  

    1. Improves Growth and Performance for Teachers and Students: PLC members create positive connections with one another, leading to improved student outcomes and creating a safe and supportive working environment for teachers.
    2. Safe Place for Inquiry: Teachers can openly question and reevaluate their practices within PLC’s, focusing on learning how to improve and modeling best practices. Egos are set aside, and collective growth takes precedence.
    3. Keeps Professionals Up-to-Date with Latest Research and Technology: By collaborating within PLC’s, teachers can easily stay informed about the latest educational research and technology. Sharing knowledge and resources facilitates the adoption of new ideas and tools.
    4. Helps Teachers Develop Reflective Practice: Reflecting on teaching practices is vital, and doing it within a PLC provides fresh perspectives and new ideas, aiding professional growth.
    5. Provides a Sense of Purpose: Shared goals, values, and mission statements within PLC’s instill a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that teachers are making a positive difference for their students and campus.

    Professional Learning Communities enhance learning opportunities through collaboration and teamwork. By working together towards common goals, they improve teaching and learning outcomes. If your PLC’s need some guidance or if you don’t have PLC’s yet, consider working with teacher leaders to create them – now is an opportune time to initiate this transformative approach to professional development.

    Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.

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