Untitled drawing (5)

To Infinity and Beyond: The Power of Professional Learning Communities

Leah Clark Uncategorized

SHARE THIS STORY: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+

My son, Brooks, discovered Buzz and Woody during the quarantine. I introduced him to the dynamic duo from the Toy Story movies. Since he found these two former enemies and now best friends, we have watched the movies on a constant rotation. (Thank goodness we have four different movies that capture his attention. I can see why all the Frozen moms were so excited to finally have a sequel.)

As a team, Buzz and Woody take on Syd, outsmart Al’s Toy Barn, escape from Sunnyside Day Care, and finally find their true happiness and purpose, even if it means parting ways. They are a team through thick and thin.

Four weeks into virtual learning, the power of teams, specifically professional learning communities (PLC: a group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students), reminds me of my son’s admiration for a space ranger and cowboy doll. Together, they can do anything, and together we can do anything.

Right now, teachers are in an uncharted galaxy using an arsenal of new and unfamiliar methods of instruction. Alone this task is daunting. However, with an effective PLC, we can conquer even the most challenging opponents.

So, what makes a PLC effective?

  • Communication
    • Buzz and Woody struggle to communicate and understand each other initially. Buzz is from another planet while Woody rules Andy’s room. Through their time together, they learn to communicate and understand each other. Our team has learned that text message is the most effective method of communication for us. We text constantly. This might drive some people crazy, but it works for us. I know some other groups use email or team collaboration programs. Whatever method of chatter works, consistent talk is key to student success, especially now. We need support from our team when we encounter a tough day or even a class period more than ever. We also need each other to celebrate a success, no matter how small.
  • Collaboration
    • Buzz and Woody have their strengths. Woody is loyal, while Buzz is fearless. Together, they succeed in the obstacles they face. Each person in my PLC has their strengths. When we identify what we are good at, we allow our students to receive the very best education. I want to be great at everything. News flash, I’m not. I can’t do it all and be effective without losing my mind. By collaborating with as a PLC, we give our students more and keep our sanity. We work as a team of teachers to provide students with the best education possible.
  • Friendship
    • Every time the familiar song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” begins to play in my house, a little smile creeps onto my face. Toy Story brilliantly entertains kids while providing a model for friendship. Our students must see teachers modeling friendship and collaboration. I want my students to see our group as “their team.” I mention, “Mrs. C made this awesome video for you. She’s so good at them, isn’t she?” I am lucky to call my PLC team members my friends. Not only do I benefit from their friendship, but so do my students.

The power of Buzz and Woody is unstoppable. Together they lead the other toys through the ups and downs of life. And the power of an effective PLCs is profound, not only on its members but its students. How does your PLC work together to go to infinity and beyond?

 

Leah Clark

Phoenix, Arizona

I joined the teaching profession after spending several years in luxury retail. While the free clothes and handbags were definite job perks, I felt burned out and tired of long hours, weekends and holidays. So, I went back to school to become a teacher and have never looked back. I love my job!
My teaching philosophy is simple: Do what’s best for kids. While it’s not eloquent, this humble phrase directs every decision I make about teaching and students. As a Language Arts teacher at a central Phoenix high school, it’s my honor and passion to create opportunities for students to communicate, collaborate, create and connect with one another and the world around them.
When I am not grading a stack of essays, planning a new lesson, or chaperoning a school dance, I love riding my yellow Huffy bicycle around town, sampling a new restaurant, and traveling to Flagstaff with my husband.

» Leah's Stories
» Contact Leah

Comments 3

  1. Caitlin Gawlowski

    I think I would constantly be in tears this year without my team! We share ideas, resources, templates for lessons we’re using, and lessons themselves. We try to “divide and conquer” so we can work smarter and not harder. Teaching is so collaborative nowadays that working together with your colleagues can lighten the “teaching load”. What a great way to model collaboration and cooperation for students, too!

  2. Kathy Wiebke

    What a great post and reminder that we are always stronger together. After so many years out of the classroom, I can’t imagine teaching in this virtual world. I am in awe of you and your colleagues. Finding what works for you and your team is key. I think sometimes we listen to others and let them define it for us. While I still cling to phone calls and email, I know this is not how most people communicate these days. You remind me I need to be flexbile. That, and to watch “Toy Story.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *