“When people have a passion and a purpose that istheirs, not someone else’s, and when their passion ispursued together and...
A Professional DevelopmentCycle2As teachers wait, endlessly for the right researchor staff development program…
Consider this: Our schools perform at current levels,despite immense challenges What would happen if we redirected allth...
Forty Years of Reform Strategies 1970’s uninformed professionaljudgment 1980’s uninformed prescription 1990’s informed ...
Informed Professional Judgment Professional judgment involves groupsof teachers and others who valuedifference, disagreem...
A Professional LearningCommunity is… A community where diverse people havea shared commitment to a commonpurpose. Communi...
Groupthink Many groups that have been labeled PLC’sare not because members are moreinterested in being nice to one anothe...
Double-Loop Learning: AnAlternative to Groupthink A thermostat is a single-loop learner. Itis programmed to increase or d...
Thermostats?!? Twinning the Portman bridge to handle thetraffic-flow into Vancouver is an example ofsingle-loop learning....
What does this have to do withPLC’s? Improving teaching methods is anexample of single-loop learning. Asking why the sam...
Creative Destruction The need to obliterate the past to createthe future. This often results in endless swings ofthe pen...
Creative Recombination Sustainable improvement is about thefuture and the past. It doesn’t treat people’s knowledge,expe...
The moment we begin to work with thepast, not against it or in spite of it, is themoment we will see an end to repetitivec...
So what do PLC’s do? The core mission of PLC’s is not simply toensure that students are taught, but thatstudents learn. ...
The Time Factor Treating classroom interactions asproblematic takes a lot of time whereaslearning new teaching methods ca...
How To Make PLC’s Fail… Create a sense of betrayal in teachers whenpromised resources fail to materialize or abruptlydisa...
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Professional learning communities

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Professional learning communities

  1. 1. “When people have a passion and a purpose that istheirs, not someone else’s, and when their passion ispursued together and is sharpened by a sense ofurgency, there are no limits to what they can achieve.”Hargreaves and Frink (2006)1
  2. 2. A Professional DevelopmentCycle2As teachers wait, endlessly for the right researchor staff development program…
  3. 3. Consider this: Our schools perform at current levels,despite immense challenges What would happen if we redirected allthis heart and energy into simple,proven practices: systematicallyidentifying, cultivating, refining, andhonoring the vast untapped fund ofcollective expertise already in our midst– and celebrating each smallinstructional victory, one at a time?3
  4. 4. Forty Years of Reform Strategies 1970’s uninformed professionaljudgment 1980’s uninformed prescription 1990’s informed prescription 2000’s informed professional judgment4
  5. 5. Informed Professional Judgment Professional judgment involves groupsof teachers and others who valuedifference, disagreement, and debateover the best ways to identify andimplement needed improvements. It’s about how teachers promote, value,and bring together formal evidence andexperiential knowledge and intuition as abasis for decision-making.5
  6. 6. A Professional LearningCommunity is… A community where diverse people havea shared commitment to a commonpurpose. Communities support each otherin pursuing goals and acknowledge andinclude all views. The communities focuson… learning of the students, the adults, andthe organization. These learningcommunities are… professional in how they valuedeliberation and discussion.6
  7. 7. Groupthink Many groups that have been labeled PLC’sare not because members are moreinterested in being nice to one another thanprobing deeply into issues that sometimesdivide education. Like all communities, learning communitiescan become victims of “groupthink,” wheremembers insulate themselves fromalternative ideas – turning shared visionsinto shared delusions7
  8. 8. Double-Loop Learning: AnAlternative to Groupthink A thermostat is a single-loop learner. Itis programmed to increase or decreaseheat in order to keep temperatureconstant. A thermostat could be a double-looplearner if it could inquire why it shouldmeasure heat and why it is set so thatthe temperature is constant. It isinquiring into underlying values.8
  9. 9. Thermostats?!? Twinning the Portman bridge to handle thetraffic-flow into Vancouver is an example ofsingle-loop learning. Studies have shown that when congestionis relieved initially by building roads orbridges, there is a 30% (more people moveto the suburbs) increase in travel, which inturn leads to more congestion, and air andnoise pollution than before the roadbuilding. Questioning the value of fucusingon traffic flow is an example of double-looplearning.9
  10. 10. What does this have to do withPLC’s? Improving teaching methods is anexample of single-loop learning. Asking why the same kinds of studentscontinue to experience difficulty, despiteimproved teaching methods is anexample of double-loop learning. This isabout questioning the value of improvingteaching methods.10
  11. 11. Creative Destruction The need to obliterate the past to createthe future. This often results in endless swings ofthe pendulum, increased burnout, andan unnecessary waste of accumulatedexpertise and memory. There is an alternative…11
  12. 12. Creative Recombination Sustainable improvement is about thefuture and the past. It doesn’t treat people’s knowledge,experience, and careers as disposablewaste (think about resistance) but asvaluable, renewable, and recombinableresources. While PLC’s should neverblindly endorse the past, they shouldalways respect and learn from it. And so…12
  13. 13. The moment we begin to work with thepast, not against it or in spite of it, is themoment we will see an end to repetitivechange syndrome and the widespreadresistance that results from it.13
  14. 14. So what do PLC’s do? The core mission of PLC’s is not simply toensure that students are taught, but thatstudents learn. Improving teaching methods (single-looplearning) is the meat and potatoes of PLC’s. However, they continually monitor studentlearning at the school, classroom andindividual level to ensure students arelearning. If all students in all classes are notdeveloping to their potential, PLC’s treatcurrent classroom interactions as problematic(double-loop learning).14
  15. 15. The Time Factor Treating classroom interactions asproblematic takes a lot of time whereaslearning new teaching methods can bedone quickly. Yes, but… Remember the fade and fizzle patternthat is typical of a lot of educationalreforms. Going slower produces faster realchange.15
  16. 16. How To Make PLC’s Fail… Create a sense of betrayal in teachers whenpromised resources fail to materialize or abruptlydisappear Create a sense of frustration with shifting levels ofendorsement or support from school leaders(hedging bets, backing off, caving in) Encourage a sense of dismay over conflicts withcolleagues and/or a failure of collegial support Ignore the possibility of emotional and physicalexhaustion associate with extra and unfamiliarresponsibilities Keep the definition of PLC’s broad enough toencourage disagreement over what they are16

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