PLC

Integrating Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and the Lifelong Learning Education (LLE) Framework

Categories: PLC, PLC at Work, Student Engagement

Elliott Seif is the author of Teaching for Lifelong Learning: How to Prepare Students for a Changing World.

 

What are the essential features of professional learning communities (PLCs)?

In many schools today, teachers shut their doors and essentially work alone, providing what they consider to be the best learning possible for their students. While this often gives them the opportunity to provide their students with decent education, it also often gets in the way of creating a collaborative culture in which all teachers work together and each contributes to the larger goal of improving learning for all students. Learning becomes fragmented and segmented when teachers work on their own.

Professional learning communities (PLCs) are designed to counter the separateness of school teaching and learning by creating collaborative teams of teachers who work together to improve learning. The formation of a PLC creates an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. Professional learning communities operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators” (DuFour et al., 2016, p. 10). Read more

What Next? COVID-19 and the Uncertainty of the Future

Categories: Authors, Guest Posts, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, PLC, PLC at Work

The month of March in the year 2020 will always have a prominent place in my personal history. I recall listening to the prognosticators on cable news in January of 2020 as they predicted an imminent global cataclysmic event. The news reported that this new virus that had shut down daily life in Wuhan, China, was heading to a country, town, and neighborhood near you! I was personally skeptical, because I had heard this type of prediction before. We were warned in the past about the apocalyptic danger of swine flu, SARS, and ebola, which turned out to be no more than contained regional phenomena.

But my experience on March 13, 2020, made it clear that COVID-19 was real and different. I was in Los Angeles preparing to fly back home to Detroit, and everyone at the restaurant where I ate looked petrified. People watched as the news reported cities declaring shelter-in-place orders, and the Los Angeles International Airport was nearly empty. Upon arriving home, I learned that my own state had ordered us to shelter in place, schools closed, businesses closed, and, like many others, I found myself confined to my home with my family for months. Life had changed forever, and I was not prepared.

Pandemics are very interesting phenomena, and they are not new to humanity. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was even deadlier than COVID-19, and the disruptions to daily life were equally or more significant. As we prepare for this new, post-COVID reality, wouldn’t it be wise to learn from the past so that we can plan for a brighter future? Read more

Learning Loss is Real! Now What?

Learning Loss is Real! Now What?

Categories: PLC

For the multiple decades that I have been an educator and even before, we have tried to help students catch up by remediating learners or going backwards to go forward.  This is the usual approach to help students overcome learning loss especially for those students who are far below grade level in reading, writing, or mathematics. Although this may help to fill some of a student’s learning gaps it does not help them to reach grade-level knowledge and skill proficiency fast enough for the majority of students to catch up with their peers. Unfortunately, this school year has truly exacerbated learning loss for almost every student. If this situation is not fully addressed or simply a case of remediation or going backwards to go forward, the sheer number of students who do not learn at grade level or beyond will increase. In addition, as each school year and course marches on students get farther and farther behind creating a cycle of remediation that is hard to escape.  In fact, it can seem like a life sentence for most students. The gap between those students who are achieving grade level learning and those that are not gets wider and wider as a student matriculates through each school year. We cannot continue to go backwards to go forward. It widens the achievement gap and inequities in our system become even more pronounced. Read more

Don’t Stop at PLC Lite

Categories: PLC

Not too long ago, I was asked to write a piece about how leaders and teams can determine if they really are working in an accountable professional learning community. This is a real issue, as possibly the biggest roadblock to helping all students learn at higher levels and doing the work of a PLC is when an organization gets caught in “PLC Lite.” PLC Lite is defined by Dr. Richard DuFour and Dr. Douglas Reeves as “when educators rename their traditional faculty or department meetings as PLC meetings, engage in book studies that result in no action, or devote collaborative time to topics that have no effect on student achievement—all in the name of the PLC process” (DuFour and Reeves, 2016, p. 69). Read more