We had another PLC meeting last week, which in my team meant another powerful, professional discussion between colleagues. Love it! I always leave those sessions energized about the possibilities, and equally grateful to be able to work with other teachers who are so dedicated to our students.
Together Really is Better
It is not my natural inclination to be so collaborative. As an introvert with a deeply introspective personality, I enjoy working alone. However, I am coming to appreciate the strength that a small, focused team of people can have when trying to reach challenging academic goals with students. Some days are more successful than others…today was pretty good. I am slowly learning to be open to the worthy ideas of others…to listen without judgment…to try new ways of teaching that (by myself) might never have occurred to me.
I signed up for the training of how to establish a Professional Learning Community (commonly known as a PLC) because I wanted to improve my students’ learning. I knew I needed to get better at focusing my instruction, creating useful assessments that really measured learning and collaborating with my peers to analyze our efforts. I was expecting to grow in those key areas and I am, but it was what else I learned that took me by surprise.
Transparency Creates Trust
There is a counter-intuitive awareness that the more transparent we are with each other regarding our teaching practices and philosophies, the more trust we create within our team. When I share at a PLC meeting some new strategy I’m using in the classroom, my revelation invites their questions and comments. At first that was a bit…uncomfortable, despite knowing most of my colleagues for many years. However, the more we share with each other, that type of honest dialogue creates a culture of mutual trust and encourages us to take more risks.
Confidence to Face the Future
With the impending change to the Common Core State Standards and the new standardized tests to go with them, teachers are faced with the increased challenge to teach our students to higher, more rigorous levels than ever before. Alone, these new standards would be very intimidating. Having a group of teachers to share that burden with makes the task, though no less daunting, certainly less stressful. Knowing that I’m not alone in my efforts to understand and teach the Common Core enables me to face these changes with confidence.
The PLC concept has layers of professional benefit that goes beyond those items listed on the meeting agenda. PLC’s are making me not just a better teacher, but also a better person. That’s why I love this profession so much. If you remain open to the lessons being taught to you, then you can also get better at being a teacher who delivers powerful lessons.