Sunday, May 5, 2013

When is a PLC, Not a PLC?

I wrote a post with this title  in 2011.

Fast forward.

A couple of weeks ago we were handed a rubric. The purpose of the rubric was to provide feedback on our PLC. However, it should be understood that the rubric is NOT evaluative.
I think if it walks like it's evaluative, and talks like it's evaluative...

These words were followed by, "If the district or the state comes in to observe your PLC, this is what they expect to see."
So now, my PLC (Professional Learning Community) is being observed, evaluated, and scored on a rubric! Whose idea was this? How did the wonderful idea of a TEACHER-led learning community, become yet another tool used by"them" to evaluate us?

The key word in PLN is Professional, which I assume meant the teacher. Teachers making decisions, based on data and our knowledge of our students, striving to do what was best for our students.

My PLC has become an alien form of what I learned in Arizona.

  • We have meetings where we are 'taught" how to write data-based questions, because every. single. PLC meeting has to be based on data. 
  • We are to begin each PLC meeting reading our norms aloud. (ex. Be on time) Yes, every.single. meeting. This is just in case we forget them, I guess.
  • Review your beliefs. (Each team had to write their own)
  • You must have an Agenda. ( I have nothing against agendas, they are good for guiding meetings) The Agenda must be broken down into minutes, and a hard copy placed in the administrator's mailbox two days before the meeting.(ex. 1 min-Norms 10 min -Reading data etc...)
  • Make sure you have, and know, your role.
  • And of course, the "non-evaluative" rubric. How can you possibly have an effective PLC when you are worried about whether you are doing what is required on a rubric?
I think back to when this began. We would meet as a team , discuss our students' strengths and weaknesses, figure out what we needed to do, and do it. No one breathing over our shoulder (literally). No one taking notes on what we were doing wrong. There was no wrong. There was no rubric.There were just a group of professionals, learning collaboratively.

I mourn the demise of PLC as we knew it, as we learned it. Another good idea that worked for educators, now being used against educators.


  1. I taught in a parochial school so things were a bit different there, but when we first organized PLCs a number of years ago, we were scheduled during our planning period once a week with three other teachers who had the same planning period. We were given tasks to complete and a form to fill out after each meeting telling who was there and what we decided. The first task was to work on our school-wide evaluation topics. The next was to discuss a book on leadership. The third was to revise the faculty handbook. The fourth was to find a topic we in which we were interested and pursue that. These tasks took varying lengths of time, and the evaluation topic continued throughout the years I was there with the same people as a SIP (School Improvement Plan) group that met during in-service days and after school. The PLC groups changed as the schedules changed so I wasn't with the same people each year. We evaluated a book on education and researched various discipline models with a recommendation to change our demerit/detention approach to discipline. That recommendation was just being evaluated as I left even though we had recommended it two years earlier. I agree with you about putting what teachers do under the microscope. In our case the PLCs were a concession to the teachers from the our Board of Ed. We had to show them some progress to be able to have them even though we gave our planning period once a week to do them. It would have been too expensive to have release time. We would have had to hire a sub to take our study hall or one of our six classes.

  2. I was just ranting about this with a colleague today. She has the unfortunate role of having to pretend that she is coaching/leading the PLCs. Her actual role to to disseminate information from the district and to hold teachers accountable.