In my work as a district effectiveness specialist, I commonly see educators struggling with the structure and the process of the professional learning community (PLC). According to The Glossary of Education Reform, PLCs are groups of educators that meet on a regular basis to share expertise and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students.
However, it’s no secret that as PLCs have become prevalent in schools, the definition of a PLC has broadened to the point where educators might not be sure if their PLC is really focused on teacher learning–and by extension, student learning.
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Prior to my work at the Georgia Department of Education, I worked with schools across the country to strengthen their approaches to learning and teaching. One school I worked with, Barringer Academic Center, found itself in the “broad PLC definition” category. A public K-5 elementary school located in Charlotte, NC, Barringer’s third-grade teachers were looking for a revitalized structure and process around their twice-weekly PLC meetings. They wanted better engagement around their learning as well as the ability to better harness how that learning was impacting student learning.