This is our first year formally and fully implementing PLC’s. I can’t say enough how exciting and challenging it is to learn how much I thought I knew about collaborating/working with other teachers. Our teachers have done some amazing work in developing good, common understandings and goals. We’ve got some awesome people participating and helping create this collaborative culture. It really is about ‘leading from where you are’ and we’ve got significant contributions on all levels. We are all learning that collaboration is not just sitting at the same table and starting a discussion.
1) Collaboration [for teachers] is about student achievement. If every second of the planning is not dedicated to making sure students are learning what they need to learn and teachers are teaching what they need to teach, teachers aren’t collaborating.
2) Collaboration is about contribution. We are creating a lot of common assessments to use for data reviews and planning. I’m learning how critical it is for all teachers to productively and professionally scrutinize assessment items, all items, to make sure every assessment is the best assessment for measuring all of our desired goals. Some of our most unproductive meetings involve teachers taking other contributions at face value without reviewing them. This deprives everyone involved of the opportunity to grow.
3) Collaboration is about protecting what’s valuable. We’ve learned protecting planning time is critical. West Middle School protects at least one day a week for teachers to plan. That time is as structured and planned as possible to ensure we efficiently use time.
4) Collaboration is about being productive. Of all the lessons I’ve NOT learned over the years, I think this has been the most costly to students I’ve taught. Being more productive early would have meant serving more kids better. I am very happy to see the efforts are teachers are making this year, their productivity is already seen and appreciated.
Implemeting PLCs is having a lasting affect on our school culture. We have to remind ourselves that this is not an overnight process and we won’t see huge results overnight. But it’s hard to contain our collective enthusiasm – I think this is a side effect of us coming together and working hard towards our goals.