If all goes to plan, my Culminating Artifact will be the planning of a Foreign Language PLC which is to begin August 2010. Keep your fingers crossed. However, in keeping with the “hope for the best, plan for the worst” mentality of school change, I am spending the spring semester reading Rick DuFour, Ted Sizer, Michael Fullan and others about the philosophy, methodology, and formation of PLCs, as well as the mechanics of school change.
Speaking of school change, in my current read, Professional Learning Communities at Work, DuFour gave me a chuckle in Chapter 3 when he ran down a list of reasons why schools fail to successfully implement reform:
- the change moved too fast
- the change moved too slowly
- the change was too big
- the change was too small
- the change was top-down without faculty buy-in
- the change was bottom-up without admin support
(DuFour, p. 48)
Essentially, what DuFour is saying is that the school won’t change unless they want to change; there will always be a reason to reject the reform and you are guaranteed to have at least one person see change from the opposite perspectives. More to the point, he noted that, “A 21st century classroom needs a 21st century school behind it.” Amen, brother.
So, in addition to my study of PLCs and the expert voices behind this movement, I will observe the PLCs that currently function in my school. I look forward to sitting in on those conversations. I will also look into some elements of PLCs that are considered essential to the collaborative ethos, such as the outcome of establishing “essential learnings” within a department or school, the Japanese practice of “lesson study,” and the various ways in which a PLC may measure results.
Again, hopefully all of this inquiry will inform my participation in a JHFLPLC(!) next year. But if that’s not in the cards, I will be ready to mobilize whenever that day comes.
By the way, if you’re like me and you begin to stutter when someone asks you to describe what are the key ideas behind professional learning communities, keep a miniaturized and laminated copy of this in your pocket. It’ll make you sound real smart.