LIB 604 Libraries in the School Curriculum Spring 2012What is a Learning Community?
2 What is a learning community?What is a Learning Community?A learning community is a group of people whoshare a common interest in a topic or area, aparticular form of discourse about theirphenomena, tools and sense-making approachesfor building collaborative knowledge, and valuedactivities. Professional Development Through Learning Communities http://www.edutopia.org/professional-development-through-learning- communities Kathleen P. Fulton and Margaret Riel
3 Learning communities in higher edA more specialized use of the term A learning community is a group of students who take two or more courses together. Students explore how what they learn in one course can help them more fully understand what they are learning in other courses. . . . Each Learning Community enrolls no more than 25 students. Learning Communities give you the opportunity to get to know other students and the faculty. They also can help make the transition to college easier and more enjoyable. Learning Communities - Frequently Asked Questions
4 Can schools be learning communities?Schools as Learning Communities When people come together and work toward a common goal, a community is formed. In schools, that goal is learning. It seems almost trite to label schools as learning communities; of course schools bring groups of diverse people together with a common goal of student learning. Schools reflect the inherent characteristic of “community.” Professional Learning Communities Hold Promise for Schools
7 Maybe we need some PLCPLC? The term professional learning community describes a collegial group of administrators and school staff who are united in their commitment to student learning. They share a vision, work and learn collaboratively, visit and review other classrooms, and participate in decision making (Hord, 1997b). The benefits to the staff and students include a reduced isolation of teachers, better informed and committed teachers, and academic gains for students. Professional Learning Community
8 3 Cs of a PLC 1The First C: Conversation In a PLC, conversations become the lifeblood of organizational learning, and the nature of those conversations can differ markedly from the types of conversations typically found in “business as usual” schools. What distinguishes conversation in a professional learning community? Primarily two things: the purposeful nature of the conversations and the underlying structure within which they occur. A purposeful conversation, in this context, is a conversation that has some underlying goal related to teaching and learning. The Role of Conversation, Contention, and Commitment in a Professional Learning Community
9 3 Cs of a PLC 2The Difficult C: Contention When educators are asked to make collaborative decisions, there are bound to be differences of opinion. The kinds of organizational learning purported to result from building community among teachers are deeply linked to how they manage the difference amid their collaboration. The processes of conflict are critical to understanding what distinguishes a professional community that maintains stability and the status quo from a community engaged in ongoing inquiry and change. The Role of Conversation, Contention, and Commitment in a Professional Learning Community
10 3 Cs of a PLC 3The Ultimate C: Commitment Purposeful conversations will inevitably lead to some level of contention, but in a professional learning community the participants can ultimately deal with contention by relying on an underlying level of commitment to common goals. For a true professional learning community, these are likely to include a commitment to ensuring student learning, a belief in the power of true collaboration, a model of distributed leadership and decision-making, and an ongoing process of reflection and inquiry. The Role of Conversation, Contention, and Commitment in a Professional Learning Community
11 How do we get PLC?Becoming a community1. Determine School and Staff Readiness The openness and availability of the principal is a significant indicator of readiness at a school. The overall climate of acceptance, growth, and learning among teachers is another important facet of readiness. . . . This is not to say that all teachers must be enthusiastic about making changes; rather, it is an acknowledgment that such efforts will be more of a struggle, and will take more time, if a climate of distrust, disrespect, or disengagement exists. First Steps
12 Getting PLCAnother First Step2. Consider the Use of an External Change Facilitator Much of an external change facilitator’s work with schools developing as professional learning communities centers around becoming acquainted with the school staff and assessing their way of operating as it relates to their school improvement goals.
13 Becoming PLCMore Steps3. Identify Barriers and Boosters4. Begin with the Learning One powerful strategy is to identify a “problem” and then bring the staff together at regular intervals to learn together how to deal with the problem or goal and engage in dialogue about that learning. . . . Once a school has identified its point of focus for improvement, that particular subject can be used as a catalyst for learning.
14 The role of the school librarian in a PLC Developing Teacher Contacts Survive and Thrive Strategies for Leadership and CollaborationConsider some advice from thepopular “Traveling Pants” series foryoung adults... “take up somespace, girl.”• Developed by Annette Lamb, and Larry Johnson. 2005 - 2008.
15 Collaboration Words O’WisdomFrom Deb Logan: Teachers 1st! Talk the talk. Mum’s the word… Walk the walk. Do the work… Bend: don’t break! “Help me help you…” Celebrate! I’ll come to you… Evaluate! Schmooze! SHOUT! Be the geek!
16 But will the teachers cooperate? Where Does Your Authority Come From?Collaboration rooted in trust and respect among committed adults is the most essential condition for meaningful change in any organization.Specialists must communicate the vision and expectations for student learning in the library media center so that teacher and student alike are clear on what is expected when they work in this environment. Empowering the Library Media Specialist as a True Partner in Student Achievement by Allison Zmuda