Friday, December 30, 2011

Five Dysfunctions of a Professional Learning Community

By Steven Weber, (originally posted on the Whole Child Education blog)

I thought this article was particularly interesting since I have experienced many of the dysfunctions Weber describes. While PLCs are one of the multitudinous education reforms du jour, they are often considered to be teacher-driven and grass roots, in contrast to charter schools, merit pay, evaluation “reform,” and others opposed by unions.

A couple of points I would add to Weber’s 5 dysfunctions are that “trust” and “buy-in” are impossible when PLCs are imposed by administrators, as they often are. If teachers are not given actual decision-making authority, or the scope and goals of the PLC are not limited to what the teachers can actually control, PLCs become just another way for administrators to impose their agendas on teachers.

What Is a Professional Learning Community (PLC)?
“The very essence of a learning community is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student. When a school or district functions as a PLC, educators within the organization embrace high levels of learning for all students as both the reason the organization exists and the fundamental responsibility of those who work within it.” —Rick DuFour, Bob Eaker, and Becky DuFour (2007)

From Isolation to Collaboration
As I have watched teachers and administrators make the shift from teaching in isolation to operating as a collaborative team, I have witnessed several commonalities across schools. This article addresses five dysfunctions of a PLC. The purpose of this article is to describe how dysfunctional behavior can interfere with the school’s commitment to the learning of each student.

All Teams Are Potentially Dysfunctional
Lencioni (2007) wrote, “Like it or not, all teams are potentially dysfunctional. This is inevitable because they are made up of fallible, imperfect human beings.” This is nice to know because educators frequently struggle with teamwork, sharing resources, and working with a coworker who views teaching and learning from a different lens.

Click here to read the rest of the article, learn about the 5 dysfunctions, and see some videos on the subject.

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