Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is it all terminaology?

So, as you may or may not have guessed, I am an outspoken person. Many of you may be as well, so you know what I mean when I say that I don't always agree with others. I'm not one to stop and accept things that I don't find to be true. I will not make something "look good" just because it is expected of me. I will defend my point of view until my ideas and perceptions are changed. I do my research, and I present my perspective to others. They may agree or disagree--to me it doesn't matter, I actually prefer hearing another perspective. I am a good listener.

Now, I have been a middle school teacher for nine years now, and I have worked with a strong team. Our students' learning has always been the focus of our discussions and decisions. Last spring I was sent to two days of DuFour PLC training. What great motivational speakers, Richard and Rebecca DuFour. My thoughts are that the middle school teaming approach to education was the foundation of the Professional Learning Community outlined by the DuFours. They identify three big ideas in the May 2004 Educational Leadership article "Schools as Learning Communities: What Is a 'Professional Learning Community'?"

Big Idea #1: Ensuring That Students Learn
Big Idea #2: A Culture of Collaboration
Big Idea #3: A Focus on Results

These are the big ideas that my middle school team has demonstrated for years. With the exception of the couple making a whole lot of money on their concept, does anyone have any insight on the differences between the work of a middle school team of teachers and this "new" PLC initiative? My argument is that they are very similar.

Now, the reason I ask is that recently my PLC was asked to present to the school board regarding what a PLC is. My team composed a handout for board members regarding the work we have been doing for years and how this "new" initiative reinforces the work we have been doing. It's not new; we have been working in professional learning communities for years. As my team's PLC facilitator, I did the presentation. The rest of the story is unfolding....

Some administrators, perhaps, hold the belief that teaming and a PLC are nothing alike.

Any feedback would be helpful in framing my thoughts.


  1. From what I can see, they are very similar. I'd like to see your handout. It's funny...I think we've been operating under a PLC and didn't know it! I'm anxious to hear more.

  2. I view them as similiar, if I am understanding the definition of a PLC correctly. perhaps the PLC is even more involved and teamwork is one component. I would love to hear more, see the handout, and think about this at the college level where I work, where communities are difficult to find sometimes!!

  3. Here's my thoughts.....

    PLC are different then teaming. "Personal" to me means they are created by you. You don't get to choose your team, you are put in that relationship with them, they were hired, you were hired, and you become a team.

    A Personal Learning Community is something you create for you. It's the people you 'choose' to learn from.

    Your RSS reader could be considered a Personal Learning Community. You decide who you read, you decide which blogs you subscribe to, and you decide when to engage in that community.

    In a teaming model you are not in control, you make team decisions, you work together because you have to, and you do it based on physical proximity.

    A PLC does not need to be in person, it does not have to be with the people you teach with. Can a grade level team or content team be a PLC? can be...but doesn't have to be.

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