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TXTS4 Leaders List

The Gift of a Functional Professional Learning Community

Marlys WeaverStoesz

Collaborative teams thrive when leaders create the conditions that allow for them to work together to analyze and improve classroom practice.  But, too often, what is called a “PLC” meeting turns into something else entirely.  According to Richard DuFour, in a PLC teachers engage with colleagues around three critical questions: What do we want each student to learn? How will we know when each student has learned it? How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?  These questions are what should drive the work of those within professional learning communities. So, how can you as a leader support this level of collaboration?

Encourage your teachers to maximize the time for the professional dialogue that will lead to increased student achievement.  Can a different time be set aside for discipline conversations, field trip planning, social committee work?

Consider what might be needed to engage teachers in this important collaboration. Support teacher teams to develop norms and protocols that clarify expectations, roles and responsibilities.

Inspire teams to take ownership of their Professional Learning Community. Do they have the tools to create their own agendas, analyze their own data, make instructional and intervention decisions, and assess their own effectiveness as a team?

As you think more about how to stay true to the intentions of Professional Learning Communities, check out this great blog post from ASCD titled, “Five Dysfunctions of a Professional Learning Community”.