PLCs are small groups of faculty who meet regularly to study more effective learning and teaching practices. It is an effective method for infusing scientifically based research programs into classrooms through the identification of new programs or topics to investigate then study its effectiveness prior to sharing the results with other faculty in the school.
In PLCs, educators change their focus from being the teacher to being the learner. Through their participation in a PLC, educators have three (3) goals:
Ensuring that all students learn. Every classroom includes students of varying abilities. In a PLC, teachers are prepared to serve both the students who learn material quickly and those who need additional time and support. That means developing a coordinated strategy to provide timely intervention when students are struggling.
Creating a culture of collaboration. In many schools, teachers work in isolation. While staff may come together to formulate basic operational policies (like how to respond to tardiness or supervise recess), they may not engage in professional dialogue about what works in their classrooms. In a PLC school, educators share best practices, join forces to solve problems, and work together to improve both their individual and school-wide performance.
Focusing on results. To ensure that a PLC meets its educational goals, educators must identify students’ current levels of achievement, establish clear educational objectives, work together to meet those goals and provide evidence that they have succeeded.
Benefits of Professional Learning Communities for Teachers:
Reduction of teacher isolation
Increased commitment to the mission and goals of the school
Shared responsibility for the total development of students and their success
Creation of new knowledge and beliefs about teaching and learning
More satisfaction, higher morale, and lower rates of absenteeism
Higher likelihood that teachers will be well informed, professionally renewed, and inspired to continue their professional growth and development
Benefits of Professional Learning Communities for Students:
Greater academic gains in math, science, history, and reading
Smaller achievement gaps between students from different backgrounds
Decrease dropout rate and fewer “skipped” classes in middle and high schools.
Lower rates of absenteeism