Ronald GallimoreEveryone's a teacher to someone (John Wooden)

PLC Movement Facing a Crossroad

Making schools learning places for teachers as well as students is an appealing vision. A vision that prompted many districts to create school-based professional learning communities (PLCs). While this is good news, observations in 40 districts across 20 states indicated the PLC movement has reached a critical stage in its development. How schools and districts choose to proceed will determine whether learning communities realize their promise or lose appeal as a driver of improved teaching and learning. This is the challenge learning communities face: Schools and districts need implementation models flexible enough to adapt to local conditions but sufficiently specific that educators aren’t forced to reinvent the wheel on their own.

Brad Ermeling and I found several common problems in a review of forty efforts to stand up PLCs. We concluded that the PLC movement is at a crossroads, in danger of relying too much on inspirational examples and overly general implementation models. We believe there is a middle ground between leaving educators to work out their own approach and educator-proof recipes antithetical to a learning community. A key is identifying tested implementation models detailed and flexible enough to guide development of effective PLCs suited to local conditions. Despite a limited evidence base, there are enough successes to know that this is possible. Identifying, validating, and sharing tested implementation models represents a clear and important call to action for the PLC movement.

For a PDF of our 2013 article in the Journal of Staff Development, click here.

For Ermeling’s paper on how to “connect the dots” to make PLCs work, click here

blog comments powered by Disqus