By Adam Young, PLC at Workâ„˘ associate
The professional learning communities approach (a collaborative focus on learning with the yardstick for success being the results obtained) resonates with so many educators right off the bat. Sometimes, however, making it happen in your school can seem overwhelming. This is especially true when your school, at first glance, appears significantly different from other schools.
The White Pine High School team that attended a PLC conference during the summer of 2004 felt this way. While the philosophies, strategies, and suggestions made at the conference resonated with all who attended, we quickly ran into some problems. Most of these problems stemmed from the fact that being a small school (420 students), we found it difficult to adopt the common assessment framework so important to PLCs because there was only one teacher of English 9, one teacher of Biology 1, one teacher of Geometry, and so on. Since the â€śfocus on learningâ€ť questions are centered on common assessments (What do we want our students to learn? How will we know when theyâ€™ve learned? What will we do when students do not learn?), we struggled to understand how to adapt this framework with limited numbers of job-alike teachers to collaborate.