PLCs and HIP HOP
Have you ever heard the reason for lackluster performance at a school is because the clientele has changed?
This is a phrase, a reason, an excuse that is increasingly used by educators or the educational system to explain or justify stagnant or low performance of students. It has been my privilege to serve as an educational leader in rich and poor, rural and urban, as well as brick-and-mortar and virtual schools. During my tenure, it has become common to hear administrators, teachers, parents, and even students lament over the quality of the schooling. Presently serving in an urban district that is majority minority and economically disadvantaged, I have become increasingly aware of the helplessness and hopelessness that can enter, invade, and take over the school culture when faced with great challenges and a changing and increasing accountability system. Without fail, on a weekly basis I consistently hear educators stating, “It wasn’t always like this. The students have changed.
After reading The Pedagogy of Confidence by Yvette Jackson, I am even more grateful for the professional learning community philosophy. Mrs. Jackson is a champion of HIP HOP: High Intellectual Performances of students produced by High Operational Practices of skilled educators. You see, I don’t just believe in professional learning communities. I know them to be places of hope and restoration where dreams and aspirations for both teachers and students are renewed, defined, and dared to live again.
Why? Because a PLC is where HIP HOP thrives. It is where professionals examine their behaviors and set goals that are driven by data to ensure not just academic success but student success. The High Operational Practices include:
- Identifying and Activating Strengths (of students and teachers)
- Building Relationships
- Nurturing High Intellectual Performances
- Providing Enrichment Experiences
- Incorporating Prerequisites for Learning
- Situating Learning in the Lives of Students
- Amplifying Student Voice
Because the professional learning community philosophy is a continuous improvement process, it allows educators to work collaboratively and interdependently on common goals sharing accountability for the outcomes. This is exactly what we need in a time of fewer resources and higher demands. We cannot continue to work at a deficit. We must have systems and structures that allow us to come together and work on any and all things that may impede learning for the adults or students. We must have a system that promotes strengths and celebrates improvement. For those of us who truly embrace the professional learning community philosophy, it does not matter the change or expectation we are faced with. We understand the power in which we operate.
All is not lost. There is hope.