Over the past few months, I have become involved in two very powerful teaching communities: a PLC and a PLN.  Both of these collaborative groups have changed my teaching in very positive ways, mostly because the premise behind each of them is to gain knowledge through other professional educators, AKA – US!

The PLC (Professional Learning Community)

A PLC begins when a group of teachers get together to share resources, issues, set goals and brainstorm the best ways to reach their students.  It is something that generally is done school wide or district wide as it allows teachers of different subject areas and grade levels to effectively communicate.  The PLC, an idea and practice that has been around for many years, when done right, has been very effective in many school districts across the country.

The biggest focus of a PLC is that it is for teachers and is run by teachers – the actual teachers who are with the students in that disctict every day!  It honors the teacher by recognizing their strengths as talented professionals who are willing to collaborate.  That is why I want to focus on it during our month of appreciating teachers.

Recently, I started a PLC in my district that centers around arts integration.  We call it PLaiC.  This is not a PLC that was mandated by an administrator, but was offered to teachers grades PreK-12 and I am happy to say that several teachers, spread across grade levels and subject areas, have committed their time to the group.  So far we have met twice for an hour each and during those times we have discussed various issues around arts integration and shared lesson plans and activity ideas.  Each time we have felt the postitive energy of communication and collaboration.  Go US!  (Our next meeting is today!)

(If you are interested in hearing more about our group, please scroll down and subscribe to this post’s comments as I will be updating readers on our efforts.)

The PLN (Personal Learning Network)

A PLN is another way for teachers to collaborate, but it is done mostly online.  (Some people would rather use the words Professional Learning Network.)  Social Media has hit education by storm and many teachers are embracing it as a professional tool.

I must admit, that at first I hesitated to even get a Facebook profile, but I did to make a page for The Inspired Classroom.  I really dragged my heels on getting a Twitter account.  But now, I do not know what I would do without it.  It is not because of the gossip I can get about Desperate Housewives or the motivation to stick to an exercise regiment (although those are nice too!), it is for my educator PLN.  Ask any educator on Twitter and they will tell you that the best professional development they receive is on Twitter with their PLN.  Why?  I argue (and many would agree) that this is because the sharing, the ideas, and the support come from other teachers who are as invested in their passion to teach as you are!  My PLN has served me far beyond my expectations.

Every Tuesday, I go to my #edchat “meeting” on Twitter where we discuss various education topics from what we are doing to promote creativity in our schools to ed reform.

Thursday night is the #artsed chat where topics center around arts education.  There are ed chats for music teachers and education reformists, you name it!

Best of all, through Twitter you make specific connections with like minded educators and can continue your collaboration outside of Twitter.  It is through my PLN that I have met and worked with some of our own guest bloggers, made dates to teach at workshops and shared kid-pleasing recipes for dinner!

What’s the common link?

Teachers – collaborating and being able to be the professional experts that they are.  Enough said!

P.S. When looking for a piece of clip art to put with this post, I typed in “teachers” and didn’t come across ONE pic of a group of teachers…what does that say?  Are teachers not thought of as collaborating professionals?  We need to change that!

That leads to our Fifth Assignment for this month:

Discuss PLCs and PLNs with your colleagues or explore them on your own.

  • Would having a PLC be beneficial to your teaching? to your school?
  • Are there people in your school or district with whom you could learn?
  • Would you be interested in creating your own PLC?
  • Would you be interested in creating your own PLN through Twitter or another Social Media platform?
  • Would you like to check out more information?