Wednesday, July 9, 2008

TPE F: Professional Learning Communities

This assignment introduced the concept of the "Professional Learning Community", a new model for the way educators should interact with one another. The gist of the idea is that we need to put the focus on what students are learning rather than what instructors are teaching; we have to pay attention to not only what we put in front of our students, but what actually sticks. The author of the article, Richard DuFour, emphasizes the importance of teachers operating transparently and collaborating with each other, not just on the superficial elements of school life but on content.

This made me wonder how we will implement this strategy at ARISE High School. We're a small, young school; as far as I know, I'm going to be the only full-time biology instructor we have. The concept of a professional learning community, in which teachers work together to put together course content and design means of assessing learning, sounds great in theory, and I'm sure it works very well at schools like Adlai Stevenson High (which has 4,000 students). But when I'm the only one presenting my content, I'm not sure whom I'll be able to collaborate with. Right now I have Kenny, the outgoing biology instructor, to bounce ideas off of, but I don't know how often he's going to be available to talk to once the school year is in full swing. I'm more than happy to talk to other teachers for ideas, especially other science teachers, but it seems like the amount of practical guidance that they'd be able to give me would be limited by their own knowledge of my subject material (and vice versa).

It'll be interesting to see how this is implemented. Like I said, I like the concept; maybe I'll be able to collaborate with other new science teachers at other schools who are participating in the Reach program.

1 comment:

peggy said...

I'm actually shocked that PLCs worked at a school with 4000 students! Wow! At my first school, we served 800 students (5 or 6 teachers per grade level) and our collaboration was dismal. I actually think you have a better chance for an effective PLC at Arise...people are more likely to be united under a common vision and mindset. No doubt it would be great for you to have another biology teacher to collaborate with...I don't want to diminish that...but you can still gain a lot from the rest of your staff! At my last school, we had a teaching staff of 11 (2 in each grade level, plus 1 fifth grade) and we essentially acted as one PLC. We had regular meetings where we presented and collaboratively analyzed our benchmark assessment data as a whole staff, which was MUCH more effective that the grade level collaboration at my old school.