Last week I attended Solution Tree's PLC Summit in Arizona. It was a great event and I left with a improved determination to be a better teacher and to make a difference in the world. I also left thinking about what I really learned that specifically can be used to make my instruction better. Initially my thoughts went to the fact that I did not learn how to teach writing better, or how to teach a math concept better. I honestly started to question the value of taking three days off school to attend a conference that was essentially just there to pump me up. I then had a little break through in my understanding of why PLC's (Professional Learning Communities) are so powerful and effective.
As teachers we have been a little jaded by the textbooks we are given, and the policies that are handed down from our districts. So many of the materials and programs we receive are so heavily scripted that we get the impression that we need to be little more than trained monkeys to implement the program. As professionals it has been a very degrading to us as teachers. PLCs change this around.
The Professional Learning Community movement requires the professional to become the professional and totally centers around the teacher and their knowledge. It has been a long time since there has been a major program that gets pushed down from the districts that puts the teachers in the position to make decisions and use there knowledge to initiate change. Putting this power in the hands of teachers is changing the education for the better as proven by the many amazing results cited at the conference.
A PLC is based around teachers working together to help all of their students succeed. When teachers meet there are a few key goals that they decide on. First the teacher decide what key things the team of teachers want to focus their teaching on. These teachers also develop assessments to determine the understanding of the students. Finally teachers discuss the students who didn't get it the first time and determine strategies that could best help these students. This whole process is implemented and relies on the knowledge and judgment of teachers. It is no wonder that it is so successful. When you have a program that relies on a highly trained professionals that are in the classroom and know and understands the needs of their students, it is bound to be more successful than any program driven by a textbook writer or a district official.
Power in the hands of teachers is a very powerful force for change in the lives of children.