kitchen table math, the sequel: what is a professional learning community

Sunday, January 15, 2012

what is a professional learning community

I would like my school board to hire a superintendent who has headed a district with Professional Learning Communities.


Anonymous said...

A PLC is designed to use peer pressure to ensure all the teachers are interacting with the students in the manner prescribed in the OBE literature. That's also the definition of an effective teacher.

It is not effective in the layman's sense. Newspeak is all the rage in education you know.

Excellence and quality are 2 other terms to beware of.

If they have headed a district with PLCs they were piloting for Gates or Council of Great City Schools or Aspen. Now the bad ideas are leaving the urban districts and coming to the suburbs.

One way to close that achievement gap. Because poverty for all is more fair than prosperity for some and a higher average living standard for all.

Not equitable and thus not acceptable.

Catherine Johnson said...

Hi Anonymous -

That's sure not the way I see things.

At least from what I've been able to see, big cities have gone with a top-down, command-and-control approach, which seems often to involve hiring a separate tier of 'instructional coaches' or 'teachers for the teachers."

For the past 7 years my own tiny suburban district has followed the "Bloomberg" model; our superintendent, who we were finally able to induce to resign last summer, planned to hire an entire faculty of teachers for the teachers.

(I was allowed to sit in on a 'model lesson' being given by one of the "teaching-learning facilitators" in the classroom of a regular teacher.)

Instructional coaches - permanent instructional coaches - make sure classroom teachers are doing what they've been directed to do; they (can) serve as the eyes and ears of central administration.

Catherine Johnson said...

A real PLC is focused on student achievement - AND in a real "PLC" school there is a commitment to continuous improvement in achievement for all kids at all levels, including kids at the very top and kids at the very bottom.

Anonymous said...


It's all in those definitions.

I am afraid you are in for a rude surprise.

And you're right the coaches act as enforcers.

We got a new super from Charlotte-Meck, a Chief of Staff, and the first new principal from there. They are all nasty pieces of work determined to stop the transmission of knowledge. I know what they were piloting because I had to figure out the whys.

Anonymous said...

You might want to search out PLCs spelled out and Stanford prof Linda Darling-Hammond to appreciate how much these are her fond creation and have been for many years.

Here's a link to give you a flavor of where this is going.

Anonymous said...

I follow a fair number of teacher blogs, and some of the teachers whose posts strike me as most reasonable (in terms of what they are worried about and the approaches they describe trying) have formed professional learning communities with other teachers on-line. Some of these (like the Global Physics department) seem to be functioning extremely well, with teachers helping each other find better ways to teach. (The physics teachers in particular do check that their students have learned, using standard measures like the Force Concept Inventory and the AP Physics test.)