The Development of Professional Learning Communities

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

WHY?



In our program, we have a new director this year. His focus this year was connecting, commit and collaborate. Due to Covid-19, we were not able to do as much collaboration as in the past. We also have new teachers and faculty members that only interact via video conferences.


The collaboration this year has fallen through the cracks. Our program is unique in that we serve special education students. This issue presents itself with many unique concerns every year, and this year many of us functioned more independently than in years past.

As a body of educators and lifelong learners, we have to think of a way to address concerns, stay safe, and continue to push our students to success.


Collaboration creates an excellent work environment. Without a good collaborative structure, teachers and students miss opportunities. Without these structured collaborative groups, the entire faculty will not know the research-based strategies and evidence-based practices that have helped students. The staff will continue to be frustrated with problems without the support of structure to overcome and create solutions to help all the students with the same issue. Collaboration makes it easier to ask questions and have professional conversations about the topics that matter in the classroom every day. When a team collaborates, it creates a sense of belonging and confidence with the tools to meet students' needs.


WHAT?


I suggested smaller professional learning community models. These learning communities will allow all teachers to connect with a network of professionals with similar learning interests and concerns to solve problems and learn together. This model is a systematic way of connecting and collaborating with peers.


HOW?


In my presentation, I used Google Slides, Speech to Text Galaxy notes to prepare my text for recording, and Zoom to record and present my presentation.



Finally, I uploaded my media file to YouTube to share it on the assignment document.



These are the tools available to me, and I am familiar with these mediums to present information. They are relatively easy to use for anyone.


My Presentation to the Leadership Team:


Link to Google Slides Presentation


5 Principals to Effective Professional Learning, in relation to developing plans for a Special Education Community.


1. Ongoing Access to the Selected Topic


Weekly meetings will create the ongoing collaborative structure and feedback needed to integrate the Professional Learning Communities into the school culture. This year-long plan will replace most professional learnings to create more specific learning topics for teachers throughout the year. This plan will include scheduled short feedback to create individual opportunities for reflection of the selected topic.


2. Engaging Instruction or Facilitation


The Collaborative Model will teach the teachers how to collaborate in a professional community. These meetings will also provide either a video or article to review at the beginning of the meeting to analyze the information. Then time to plan how that information will be incorporated in lessons and activities to solve the selected topic.


3. Support throughout Implementation and Beyond


Feedback from peers will be collected with every topic to improve the Professional Learning Communities. Mini-meetings will also include the discussion implementation, overcoming challenges and issues that come up through the week. The lead teacher and peer walk-throughs will have follow-up meetings to reflect with others how the new lesson or activity translated in the classroom. This feedback and support will be ongoing and evolving monthly as the leadership team reviews feedback and facilitation effectiveness surveys.


4. Modeling of the Topic


Peer study will give each group the autonomy to use the material given or research other evidence or researched-based practices to solve the student or classroom concerns discovered through collaboration. These will include videos, role-playing, skits, and modeling from others to ensure everyone understands the practice that each group chooses.


5. Specific Topics for Special Education Success


Only addressing subjects to help our populations like:

  • Data

  • Classroom Management

  • Social-Emotional Development

  • Executive Functioning Development

  • Growth Mindset

  • Goal Setting

  • Ect.

 

The Research used...


The School Redesign Network at Stanford University conducted a multi-year study with the National Staff Development Council to created the PROFESSIONAL LEARNING IN THE LEARNING PROFESSION: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad study(Darling-Hammond et. al., 2009). This study shows what is happening in the United States and Canada in terms of professional development. Professional development is required to make sure educators stay certified according to the state rules and complete the 150 continuing education hours to renew a teaching certificate every five years(Texas Education Agency(2020). These rules do not mention how much we must understand or learn 16 points of interest for Texas classroom teachers. The study examines if the most effective strategies are happening in the United States and Canada.


The research concludes that most teachers are not participating in the most effective professional development. It shows that the professional development administered has some aspects of effective professional development like mentoring, coaching, and or subject matter instruction but with little depth. The lack of peer collaboration, follow-up, special education, and classroom management is not effective or addressed. Overcoming these obstacles are discussed in the publication from The National School Board Association Center for Public Education titled Teaching the Teachers(Gulamhussein, 2013)


Professional Development's ills are addressed in the publication, Teaching the Teachers and some of the researched-based practices that can change professional development to an effective tool for student growth. The infographics, charts, and format make it easy to see how the solutions address each concern area. In this blog, I highlight the "Professional Learning Communities" also mentioned as "Breakfast Clubs" because this practical tool is the best fit for our educators. The publication also shows how this information can increase student success.


These two publications provided the information to compile these ideas and are the best practices my campus needs to make our already incredible educators to superstars.




 

Professional Development Outline





 

References


Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional

Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public

Education. Retrieved from 1pm111317A114Job-embedPD.pdf (ohioschoolboards.org)


HD Film Tributes(2020). The Breakfast Club • Don't You (Forget About Me) •

Simple Minds. YouTube. https://youtu.be/4gLVqjIvokc


Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R.C., Andree, A., Richardson, N., Orphanos, S. (2009).

Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad. School Redesign Network at Stanford University.

NSDCDvlpmntRptFnlRv2:NSDCDvlpmntRptFnlRv2 (stanford.edu)


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