We hear all the time how important it is to have a professional learning community (PLC) and are showed numerous examples of what that should look like. However, I feel not as much time is spent on the ingredients you need to get to that point and if it doesn’t happen overnight, it should be ok. Being the strong leaders that we are, it can be hard to work with someone else and share the work load when you would much rather do it yourself in your own way. I strongly feel the number 1 ingredient for a successful professional learning community is similar philosophies or at least the willingness to learn.
This became evident once I was paired with my current teaching partner. We were just meant to teach together. It is through working with her that I have learned the ingredients needed to have a successful PLC.
- Balance – We are similar but yet not identical.
- Sharing – We take turns planning and creating lessons.
- Willingness to learn – We never settle and are always on the lookout for what more we can learn or in what ways can we make something better.
- Honesty – We can tell the other one when we don’t think an idea will work and don’t take it personally if the other one wants to try something else.
- Risk Taking – We are willing to try something outside our comfort zone because we know we have the support of each other.
It is these core values that have allowed us to become a cohesive team. Granted it helped that our philosophies were the same to begin with but it took us 4 years to get to the point we are at today. Our balance, sharing, and willingness to learn came first and honesty and risk taking came after. We were always honest and willing to take risks mind you but the risks were small and our honesty was always slightly sugar coated. The more we work together the more we understand how important to those last two ingredients are and we have gotten stronger in them. In the last year, I have learned that as an educator you have to be willing to have your way of thinking challenged. While it doesn’t mean you have to change it, you have to be willing to see someone else’s point of view and acknowledge the positives in it. It is through PLC that you can reimagine an idea or concept and make it your own. That’s where the innovation happens!
Twitter has taken the PLC to a whole other level. Now you have access to your professional learning network (PLN) of educators all over the world. What I find most fascinating about Twitter is that educators from all over the world, who may have different philosophies, understand the core values of a network. You have 24/7 access to people who want to learn, share resources, take risks, and will be honest with you. I think part of that is you aren’t face-to-face so it is slightly easier. J At any rate PLNs have provided yet another way for educators to work collaboratively and maybe even take some of that back to their PLCs.
When you are willing to make any of the above happen, you will be surprised on the positive effect it will have on your teaching. You will also be surprised how inspired it will make you to become a better educator. Those scary risks and ideas that you only dreamed about start becoming a reality because you know you have someone else in your corner now.