Professional Learning Communities Transform your group into a team! by Joan Richardson Reviewed by J. Polakovsky
The Big Question How do you move from being a group of people with a common characteristic — such as teaching the same subject or grade level — to being a team or a community with a common vision and focus? “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” – John Donne Professional learning community is the new name for team.
PLC is a Team with an Intentional Focus on Learning Devote time for group team development Spend time on the basics Four stages of group development Forming Norming Storming Performing
Updating the Team Development Wheel Community Development- the making of a team Pseudo-community Chaos Emptiness Community
The Principal’s Role Spend time on basics Understand the team development process Give time to conversations about “how to do the work” Avoid plunging in Time must be given to trust and relationship building Realize that every group feels special Groups need predictable stages Groups need to know that conflict is natural.
Developing Norms Teams need to create norms by which all will abide. An activity enables groups to develop these ground rules. Often making task an anonymous one ensures ideas are expressed freely. Supplies can range from same type of pens, index cards, poster paper, display board, tape and tacks. Task should take a total of two hours. Post Norms in the teaming room
An Example We will work together as a community that values consensus rather than majority rule. We will be fully present at the meeting by becoming familiar with materials before we arrive and by being attentive to behaviors which affect physical and mental engagement. We will invite and welcome the contributions of every member and listen to each other. We will be involved to our individual level of comfort. Each of us is responsible for airing disagreements during the meeting rather than carrying those disagreements outside the meeting.
Which stage is your team in? Use a questionnaire. Questionnaires contain statements about teamwork at the various levels. Rank each question from “Almost Never” to “Almost Always” The following link will lead you to 32 good questions and to what stage each belongs for scoring purposes.: At What Stage is Your Team? Questionnaire
R.E.A.C.H. Risk-Takers building a PLC take an adjustment of thought, procedures and time. Major changes will have to occur. Effectiveness develops after the team is created and plans can be enacted. Autonomy is not being that island unto oneself but rather displaying independent thought responsibly. This initiative adds to the strength of the group. Collegiality is a promotion of community. Honor is displayed by treating others with respect and dignity
Food for Thought No one of us can be effective as all of us. Unknown
Build with your team a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another, and of strength derived from unity in the pursuit of your objective. –Vince Lombardi
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; and working together is success. Henry Ford
Resources Richardson, Joan. Transform Your Group into a TEAM, Tools for Schools, Vol. 9, No. 2,November/December 2005. http://www.nsdc.org/members/tools/tools11-05.pdf Merideth, Eunice. Leadership Strategies for Teachers, 2nd ed. Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, CA. 2007. Heart Sutra http://www.silcom.com/~eclarson/heartsutra/hs-ra/hs06.html