Cathryn thinks it is unacceptable that the little time that teachers have to work collaboratively isn’t always used effectively. Teacher’s time is precious and it is wasted if the time spent together doesn’t directly or indirectly improve student learning outcomes.
Cathryn believes in a school where staff understand the impact they have on student learning and, as a result, they value their Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). However, at her school, in some cases collaborative meeting time wasn’t being utilised as effectively as it could’ve been, PLCs were being driven by senior staff, and at times the meetings were unfocused, meaning that not all teachers valued the time spent together, nor did they contribute to the conversations.
Cathryn dedicated some of her time this year to develop a purposeful and meaningful PLC program at her school for her colleagues, where everyone fully utilises the collaborative time together to share best practice and understands their impact on student learning.
Cathryn used Survey Monkey to send out a survey to staff to gain an understanding of their views on the PLCs. How effective were they? How were they improving student learning outcomes? She based the questions in the survey on the norms of collaboration. Before sending the survey out to all staff, Cathryn explained its purpose and her ideas for re-energising and reinvigorating the PLCs to strengthen their effectiveness.
Once all staff had completed the survey, Cathryn shared the results with them and together they came up with ways they could improve the results in terms of perception of usefulness and impact on learning. A couple of initiatives emerged…
- The roles of team members in each PLC were clarified, allocated and then rotated every meeting, ensuring everyone had a different responsibility each week.
- The venues of the meetings were regularly changed and snacks were provided at PLC meetings.
- ‘Impact on student learning’ was listed on the agenda for each PLC meeting, ensuring conversations revolved around impact.
So far 450 children have been positively impacted by the changes made to PLC structure and function, and to strengthening the focus on student learning.
“Senior Staff reported back at the Senior Staff meeting that PLC teams seemed more focused and there was a more even contribution from all teachers due to having rotating roles and responsibilities for minute taking, chairing, hosting, etc. And in my own PLC, teachers who had previously been unmotivated were more active collaborators and contributors, preparing for meetings as requested. The norms of collaboration for each meeting are clear and understood.”
Like the idea?
Cathryn would love your support for Using Our Time Effectively, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and she’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where she can. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch with Cathryn and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer her on in the comments below as well.
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