2. Know That Sharing is Caring – We’ve probably all told our students at some point to not to fear asking questions because someone else in the class probably shares the same questions as you. The same is true for educators. Sharing a question is a great way to enter a PLC. Often, when a newcomer to the Discovery Education Community asks a question, existing members will go out of their way to greet the new participant and make them feel at home.

Likewise, a question will help grow a community and take the conversation to a new level. I am constantly amazed at how when someone asks a question in my PLC, fifty people from all over the world will respond to the question by building upon each other’s ideas, creating a rich and engaging conversation.

Also, as you think about the role questions play in your PLC, remember that your ideas, as well as your questions, are worthy. While humility is a genetic predisposition for educators, you bring a unique experience and perspective to every conversation. Don’t be shy about sharing it!

3. Connect, Connect, Connect – Often, educators will participate in a number of PLCs, each supporting a different professional learning goal. You participation in PLCs should not be limited by the logo in your email signature or one membership card. Your participation in PLCs is about you, your professional learning journey, and the peers with whom you enjoy learning, sharing, and connecting.

With that in mind, now may be the perfect time to expand the PLCs you participate in. You can begin researching new PLCs with a good old-fashioned Google search, or you can ask your peers or a trusted mentor which PLCs they would recommend you join and why. Likewise, you can review education media such as eSchool News and others to see what sorts of PLCs get mentioned and what activities they offer. Also, during the course of professional learning events like the ISTE Annual Conference, network with others to learn about the pros and cons of the PLCs they participate in. Once you have found some possible new PLCs you are interested in, dive right in.

These are a few key tips to get you started on your path to getting the most out of your PLC. But remember, the most important thing is that you MOVE FORWARD. While the most rewarding of professions, a career in education, like all careers, will have ups and downs. A strong relationship to peers in a PLC will help even those highs and lows out and will make you a better educator that is even more capable of supporting the success of all your students.

Remember, we’re better together.

About the Author:

Lance Rougeux is Discovery Education’s vice president of Learning Communities. Lance formerly taught in Pennsylvania’s public school system and served as an Executive Policy Specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Educational Technology.