Professional Learning Communities

Has anyone heard of these?  My school is considering this as our new “educational priority.”  Essentially, it seems to break down to two ideas:

1) Don’t give students the option of passing.  Rearrange schedules, make arrangements with parents, do whatever it takes to force students to do the work.  So far, this seems to mean creating extra periods during the day designed to force failing students to attend tutoring sessions until they are passing.

2) Collaborate with other teachers.  Create more time for teachers to get together and share ideas that are working, discuss problems and solutions, and break into teams.  Teams are formed “horizontally and vertically” so teachers will group by discipline and by grade.

There are other factors, but that seems to be the crux of it.  I’m just curious if anyone has had any firsthand experience they would like to share.  Am I getting into something good?  Or is it another fad that won’t last? Thoughts?

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts. 



  1. renaissanceguy said,

    November 4, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    Some random thoughts:

    1. It sounds like a fad.
    2. It sounds like a lot of extra work for teachers.
    3. It might help a few students, if they have the motivation and willingness.
    4. I expect it is a bit redundant, as most teachers are willing to give extra help to students who ask.
    5. Because of #4, I think it is babying the students a bit too much. Most employers will not treat them in that way, unless they are really contributing a lot to the company.

  2. Shannon said,

    November 5, 2007 at 6:46 pm


    I suggest you take a look at and read PLC at Work by DuFour, DuFour and Eaker. It will offer you what you are looking for. I don’t think DuFour’s PLC model is a fad. There are many renditions of PLC out there now so you have to be careful. It basically tells educators to use best practice that is grounded in research and reminds us that the fundamental purpose of a school is that kids learn, not that adults are comfortable.

    The 3 big ideas in a PLC are:
    1. Clarity of Purpose- which is a focus on learning. Here we ask 4 questions. What is it we want kids to learn? How will we know when they’ve learned it? How do we respond when a student isn’t learning? How do we respond when they already know it?

    2. Collaborative School Culture (as you mention above)

    3. Focus on Results – PLCs measure their effectiveness on results rather than intentions. Renaissanceguy is saying a lot of what PLC tries to avoid. We don’t teach and hope kids learn, we keep working until they do learn.

  3. languagelover said,

    November 12, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks, Shannon. That website is a great resource. Our administrators are slowly doling out knowledge about the program, so there’s a lot of confusion, tons of questions, and not many answers. That website can help answer a lot of that.

    Are you a teacher, administrator, an employee for the PLC group, or just an informed source? Just curious.

  4. Chani said,

    November 20, 2007 at 2:05 am

    The public school in my town has something similar to Number 1. If a student does not turn in an assignment (and if it would take less than an hour), the student is required to complete the assignment in the classroom after school or the next morning (late policy applies, of course). Another system the school has is called Friday School. If the student has missed a set number of classes, the teacher can require the student to attend Friday School to complete assignements, supplementary material, etc.

    I believe they are effective practices if used wisely by the teacher and no teacher is required to use these in their classes.

  5. March 12, 2008 at 4:11 am

    […] the same thing.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we are starting this new system called PLC.   The main idea is for teachers to collaborate together and discuss what we are teaching, why we […]

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