My Review of Professional Learning Communites at Work-Part Two

…Continued from part 1

7. Change in the Culture of a School
In my ten years in the school system I’ve experienced failed efforts to celebrate success as the person responsible has played favorites rather than used it as an opportunity to identify those who promote positive values. As discussed in the chapter, I feel it’s necessary to permit a group of staff members or a student to appoint individuals for recognition. It is also noteworthy to include an anecdote that specifically explains how the recipient contributed to the collective effort to improve the school.

8. Planning Learning: Curricular Focus
The authors state, “The appropriate analogy for curriculum improvement is that the three most critical elements are focus, focus, and focus!” (p162). The writers continue to explain that “General Goals” offer a wide statement of the knowledge or skill to be accomplished in a learning area, “Standards” provide a more specific statement of knowledge within the goal, and “Benchmarks” are development indicators for measuring a student’s accomplishment of a standard. The effort to establish focus will assist schools clearly identify what they’re trying to accomplish.

9. The Functions of the Principal in a PLC
The most challenging task for principals of professional learning communities is to establish credibility and model behavior that’s congruent with the vision and values of their school. This encompasses a number of attributes that has to be kept in check. A principal must be able to deliver on promises, be consistent and predictable, focus on their priorities, demonstrate conviction and courage, admit mistakes, maintain their composure, demonstrate competence, and most importantly “do what they say they will do.”

10. Teaching in a PLC
In this section the authors concentrated on the requirement for the teaching profession to become much more professionalized. They succinctly provided a summary of INTASC and NBPTS standards and talked about the “Practice of Teaching.” What I found most fascinating is the similarities noted, between the role of the teacher in the class room and leaders. They need to clearly understand what they wish to achieve, be effective communicators, monitor achievement, confront those who don’t give their greatest effort, and model enthusiasm and passion. As the authors stated, “Ultimately, the effectiveness of leaders is evaluated not on the basis of what they do themselves, but rather on what they have motivated others to do.” (p.228)

11. The Role of Parents in a PLC
Many of the topics mentioned in this chapter are in effect in our school district. Parents can check student’s grades on the internet in real time, yearly parent conferences are held, electronic news letters are distributed monthly, student hand books are shared with parents, and PTO meetings are held monthly. As a result we’ve had many parents serve as advocates for our school system to garner support for more funding. They have written to local papers, called into morning radio stations, and have established relationships with regional and state officials. These efforts combined with and active group of parent volunteers have made for a stronger school community.

12. Staff Development in a Professional Learning Community
I believe “The Content of Staff Development Programs in a Professional Learning Community” is the most important part of this chapter. As was stated it previous chapters the support of teachers is extremely important. Teachers aren’t going to support new programs or practice if they do not believe in it. In order for them to believe in it they should be provided with the supporting research. Moreover, the focus of staff development must start with common approach and then particular content areas teams must work together to develop ideas and techniques for implementing the training in their particular disciplines or courses. They must also work to develop programs to develop their skills to address the diverse learning styles of students. I have found several online classes for teachers which are very succinct and relevant to learning styles which I have recommended to my teachers.

13. Passion and Persistence
The final chapter reminds us that creating a PLC is a passionate, nonlinear, and persistent effort. As a building administrator who’ll is in the starting stages of the process, it is significant to start by evaluating the staff and school culture. I believe we’ve the interest and persistence to succeed but the problem will arise when there is doubt. It is the job of the Principal to keep the staff focused and move quickly beyond our mistakes. We should keep in mind that it’s not an ideal science, but rather an organic process and challenges will exist.

John Aquinn has been a K12 educator of 15 years.

Retiring after 15 years in the classroom setting as a high school social studies teacher in greater San Francisco, he currently enjoys composing curriculum for professional development online classes for teachers and contributing to several blogs in the K12 educational arena.

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