Professional Learning Communities

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about anything substantive here at Technology Tips so I thought I’d do a short piece about something I’ll be engaged in for this next semester.  At UNI we have the goal of becoming the premier PK-12 teacher preparation institution in the US and to that end I’m on a committee that is working towards this end in the area of technology.  What’s interesting about the work that we are doing is that we are only focusing on technology use in a roundabout way and are instead looking at the underlying teaching teacher education faculty are using in their courses.  It is the pedagogy teachers use that will ultimately determine how technology is used in the classroom.  Only then will we be able to design creative, meaningful, authentic learning experiences for our students.

We recognize that this change is going to take many semesters.  Mainly because we are talking about changing the culture within teacher education, which like any culture change, takes time.  So our first step is to create the opportunity for faculty to see some of the possibilities through a mini pilot of a few faculty.  These faculty will be engaged in a professional learning community during this semester as we look at different things we can do in their classrooms to become more effective.

Many of the specifics are still to be worked out by those in the PLC, but here is the general idea:

  • Meet face to face once a month to reflect on our teaching practice, observe/interact with other educators who embody what we feel as effective teaching, learn new strategies/technologies
  • Communicate via Twitter when we are apart about things we are trying in our classrooms, resources we find, and to ask questions both to our small group and to others in the Twitterverse
  • Reflect on new strategies, innovations, etc. that we are trying in our courses through a group blog
  • Continuous focus on how to improve student learning in their courses

The end game for this small pilot PLC is to both create the opportunity for other teacher education faculty to see the process they will eventually be going through, as well as become a better teacher which should lead to greater student learning.

My role in the PLC will be as a facilitator.  I’ll help organize meetings, teach faculty how to use certain technology, assist with instructional design, etc.  If the faculty want to try something, I’ll be there to help them do it, which is a crucial component in any change process. I clearly have my work cut out for me this next semester, especially since this is my first PLC I’ve been apart of and I want it to be a success.  And part of that success means connecting with others who have been a part of PLCs in the past.

So…what has worked well for you? Is there any PLC resources you could recommend as we get started?  What can I/we do to help make this PLC a success?  Help us out by leaving a comment!

 

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3 thoughts on “Professional Learning Communities

  1. This looks like a well-thought-out PLC with technology integration goals. It might be helpful to start a Wiki (or link to a current one you have) as a standalone resource that your PLC can reference as you move along. Looking forward to follow-up posts about the successes of this!

  2. Pingback: Dr. Sarah’s favorite resources of the week (Jan. 30 – Feb. 5, 2012) « Literacy, Languages and Leadership

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