Almost every school out there has tried to implement some sort of professional learning community, or PLC. Many of those schools started PLCs with the right intentions and provided time for PLCs to meet regularly to work collaboratively with the goal of increasing academic performance of students.
Propel Pitcairn, one of the Institute for Learning’s newest partners, went through the process of an organization-wide curriculum adoption for both math and English language arts last year. As a result, the teachers will now be regularly using high-level tasks, which dovetails with the network’s vision that students will do the thinking.
As part of the Networks for School Improvement (NSI) work, I’ve been working directly with 8th grade coaches and their grade-level professional learning community (PLC) teams in the Dallas Independent School District (ISD) to understand and use two protocols that first work to honor the knowledge and day-to-day lived experiences that teachers bring with them to their PLCs, and then ask teachers to critically reflect on classroom experiences and student work to increase professional knowledge and enhance student learning (Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2008).
A growing number of schools focus on some form of communities of practice as a key to improving their performance. Schools typically refer to communities of practice as professional learning communities (PLCs). These work in a variety of ways and have different goals, but only some achieve their intended results.