Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
Amidst CEUs, conferences, mentorships and seminars, I’ve learned the most in my teaching career from simply watching other teachers. Watching teachers teach allows you to observe strategies and behaviors one might not think to mention in a presentation. It allows you to see teachers in their element and to observe their expertise first hand.
In my opinion, such opportunities happen far too infrequently in schools across the country. However, in my time at Southfield Christian School in Southfield, MI our principal instated once monthly PLC meetings, creating space for observation, discussion and collaboration in just an hour after school.
Each month, our principal would choose one or two teachers that exemplified the month’s focus area. Topics ranged from differentiated instruction to record keeping. I was featured in a PLC focused on centers in the elementary classroom. In the week leading up to the PLC our school’s AV specialist visited my classroom during center time each day to film snippets of our class in action.
When the day of the PLC arrived I was asked to set up my video with a bit of background information and then to sit back and watch, pausing the video occasionally to offer context. As the video played we all took notes. Once we had watched, the collaboration began. We were able to discuss what we had seen, ask questions and offer solutions. It was a rich time of learning, allowing everyone to share their experiences and arming all of us with new ideas.
These PLC afternoons provided some of the most practical and impactful PD I’ve ever experienced and were so simple to prepare. As teachers, we are often isolated in our own classrooms and sometimes what we do each day can feel mundane. A PLC meeting gives us the chance see firsthand what other teachers are doing and sends us back to our classrooms encouraged and inspired.