PLCs – Professional Learning Community Genius OR…Please Leave Crabby Overworked Teachers Alone?
(Stu, my loyal reader, this one’s for you!)
Since many of you wrote and said you enjoyed my dissection of articles, I thought I would include this one because it acknowledges that schools need even more than just good teachers to make significant changes. And no, by more than good teachers alone, the article and I are not referring to increased testing, increased accountability measures that just result in increased paperwork and pencil sharpening, increased number of meetings, increased scripted curriculum or any other increased whatever that the Powers That Be dream up in an attempt to control teachers sending the message that we are nothing but idiotic trained circus animals who are in need of an occasional whipping. (Phew. That was a mouthful.)
The author had me at hello when she began her article by disrupting the Teacher as Savior image perpetuated by Hollywood. (Or the Teacher as Wearer of Head to Toe Leather…I know, I love that joke.) And then, THEN, she quotes an education consultant who says we need to stop looking for superheroes to save our schools. Sha-bam! I mean, I like to imagine myself in a cape with some fabulous gold cuffs as much as the next girl, but let’s be realistic here. While I have from time to time thought of myself as having Super Powers I knew that there was no way that I could successfully change the lives of each and every one of my students, no matter how much I tried or wanted to. Did that mean I just gave up? No, of course not. But some children are coping with pretty dire situations and I’d be insane to think that I alone (despite all my high-heeled fabulousness) had the power, the knowledge or the ability to help them all.
In this piece, the author suggests Professional Learning Communities in schools which are groups of teachers and members of the local community who work together toward common goals. I’m thinking the PTA on steroids and minus a few bake sales. If I’m right we’re talking about teachers, administrators, parents, and community leaders here. And I know, I know, it sounds like we’re also talking about one more freaking meeting that you have to go to that will probably take place after hours, HOWEVER, what I do appreciate is the acknowledgement that the school alone isn’t the main source of a community’s ills. Nor is the school alone the only way we are going to solve larger social problems that impact student performance every day. (Poverty, I’m looking at YOU.)
At first, this idea may sound scary because Lord knows we don’t’ need another non-educator sticking their noses into our classrooms and curriculum and telling us how to do our jobs (without even asking us what we think!! ARGH!), however, if the PLC is focused on the bigger picture, how schools and teachers can possibly fit into that picture and how the community can better support the work of the schools, I’m all for it. Although, I have to say that I would feel more encouraged about adding one more thing to our already overflowing plates if this article was written from the perspective of an actual teacher or at least a former teacher who had participated in a PLC. You know, ‘cuz them folks on the outside have a tendency to a) have too many opinions b) suggest ADDING EVEN MORE without ever EVER taking away and/or c) act like they know how it is on the inside because, hey, they went to school once.
Who knows if this is the solution? I’m pretty sure journaling alone is not going to do it. Nor is walking the streets with a Badass soundtrack. (Secretly, I totally want one of those, but more for personal reasons than the whole Save The Children thing.)