Throughout an academic year, an instructional coach can find themselves going through cycles when working within professional learning communities (PLCs). When you reflect on the function of your PLC group, it is easy to see how the PLC could loose focus on the main goals. If the facilitator of the PLC doesn’t recognize the need for re-calibration early enough even the most dedicated group of educators could become completely derailed and discouraged. As a result of experiencing PLC train wrecks as well as PLC success stories, I developed the following short refocusing exercise for the instructional coach or PLC facilitator to implement with a team of teachers. Every team has different dynamics, but usually, around mid-year, a very observant instructional coach could begin to notice the signs that suggest it is time for a PLC Refocus. This is simple in concept, but it requires skillful execution. If the timing is right and the approach is non-judgmental the PLC could benefit greatly. Give it a try, and share your results.
PLC Refocus Framework
|Focus on Learning||Focus on Collaboration||Focus on Results||Focus on Support|
|1. How are our actions reflecting that our focus is on student learning!||1. What are our team’s unique strengths and weaknesses?||1. How do you know that collaborative planning times are effective?||1. Specifically, how can external people and resources provide more support towards our efforts?|
|2. What tools do you use to reveal student understanding? How do the results impact our collaboration?||2. How are we holding one another accountable for behaviors and actions?||2. What evidence do you see as a result of our collaborative planning? Is there a significant change or are we doing what we have always done?||2. How could an instructional coaching impact our team?|
|3. As a group what obstacles are holding us back from establishing more productive collaborative planning time?|
Revisiting PLC Norms
Present each question to the entire team for collaboration and ask them to share their thoughts one question at a time. Ask clarifying questions like those below to simplify the group’s responses and collect their final answers.
- What will you say and do when you disagree?
- What will you say and do when you are not comfortable with a concept or teaching strategy?
- What will you say and do when a colleague achieves a goal?
- What will you say and do when a colleague doesn’t follow the PLC Norms?