Thursday, July 24, 2014

Professional Learning Communities and a Culture of Collaboration

I recently read an article entitled "What Is a Professional Learning Community?" by Richard DuFour on www.acsd.org.  The first part of the article describes practices that have been in place in our district for many years.  However, it was the second "Big Idea" that most resonated with me.  That "Big Idea #2" is a "Culture of Collaboration".  This is the area that seems the most likely to impact student learning to the greatest extent and has the most room for improvement, in my opinion, within education.  Teaching (and learning for that matter) has been, until recently, a very isolated endeavour.  Each teacher was charged with preparing their lessons and teaching their classes virtually on their own.  (And, every student was expected to "do their own work".)  In some cases, teachers became very protective of lessons they created.  In today's world and with the myriad of expectations on each and every teacher, it is impossible to "go it alone" and truly give students the educational experience they deserve.  Every teacher benefits from the experiences and knowledge of their teaching peers.  It's just a matter of being willing to learn and being willing to share.  Teachers have a diverse set of skills and it is crucial to take advantage of the skills of all team members if each is to become the best teacher they can be.  I recall early in my career the modelling that I had the privilege of experiencing; how to behave in a professional meeting, options for solving various student learning and discipline problems, etc.  If I had not experienced those exemplars, my development as a teacher would have seen a much slighter incline over the years.
Today's environment of collaboration within a school, a district, a geographic area, and the world, provides the potential for exponential growth as a teacher.  How can one not get incredibly pumped when you consider the possibilities.
I had the privilege of participating in a 1 to 1 Glogster training the other day.  It was incredible!  I got to Skype with Scott DeCastro of Glogster's R&D Department and not only did I benefit tremendously with terrific new classroom use ideas, but I truly think Scott felt he and his company benefitted as I was able to relate some feature requests that I feel would be incredibly helpful.
This is the beauty of Professional Learning Communities.  In today's world there are no boundaries.  Each of us can bring our amazing learning opportunities back to our smaller Communities and therein lies the exponentiality of it.  I get psyched just thinking about it.  How about you??

Graphics credits: http://vet-education.org/ and http://www.rtuni.org/

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