Educational leaders use their competencies to help learners achieve their full potential in their respective environments. Experts in institutional reforms support various strategies and models that can improve the effectiveness of various teaching procedures. The professional learning community (PLC) model is one of these initiatives intended to foster the collaboration of educators in an effort to meet the diverse needs of their respective students. Unfortunately, the practicability and effectiveness of PLC programs are yet to be fully realized. Since PLCs are useful for meeting the academic needs of students, educational leaders need to provide additional resources, introduce technological use, support data-driven implementation, create new guidelines, and include all stakeholders.
PLCs are becoming common programs in learning institutions, departments, communities, and districts. Lee et al. (2022) define a PLC as any group of professional educators collaborating to share ideas while focusing on the best strategies to transform teaching initiatives. These experts identify and implement emerging incentives in their environments to allow more beneficiaries to achieve their goals. In their research, Schaap and de Bruijn (2018) observed that most of the experts enrolled in PLCs reflected and engaged in superior procedures for delivering personalized instructions to their children. A proper understanding of PLC is, therefore, appropriate for supporting the needs of more learners.
The adoption of PLCs in learning institutions can help improve performance and meet the demands of students. Lee et al. (2022) observed that some teachers were taking PLC programs for granted. Specifically, they viewed such activities as meetings performed when there were no other meaningful roles to undertake (Sunaengsih et al., 2019). This information reveals that various assumptions exist regarding the practicability and nature of PLC meetings. The first one is that proponents might think that those who participate in the practice could make significant improves and improve the effectiveness of schools. The second assumption is that the process of improving individuals is essential for improving schools. The third one is that improvements in schools could eventually impact the overall process of learning and teaching.
In most cases, a PLC will tend to function within a given learning facility to improve performance. Consequently, such meetings could be adopted or used for a number of goals. For instance, such models could support the integration of teachers in a given county or district (Lee et al., 2022). The involved participants and educational leaders could organize PLCs based on the education level of the targeted learners, subject, or content area. This approach means that a specific educator could be part of one or more PLCs (Lee et al., 2022). Additionally, PLCs could be instrumental in supporting the needs of learners with various disabilities. However, stakeholders should not be applied in various scenarios. First, PLCs would be inadvisable or inappropriate for leadership goals or forums. Second, administrators should not use PLC meetings as strategies for pursuing disciplinary measures.
Leaders in different learning institutions and districts can consider various strategies to engage more specialists in the PLC process. The first one is for such professionals to introduce such meetings in different regions using a data-driven strategy (Schaap & de Bruijn, 2018). This strategy will allow more teachers to reflect and adjust their activities more effectively. With most of the members having diverse backgrounds, it becomes possible for them to acquire additional strategies for solving problems and delivering results. The second approach revolves around the combination of new ideas from different professionals is an initiative that adds value to the wider learning process. Schaap and de Bruijn (2018) reveal that the continued promotion of PLCs is necessary since it will create additional opportunities for more stakeholders. Consequently, the targeted beneficiaries will find it easier to achieve their educational goals.
To achieve most of the desired objectives, members engaging in collaborative work in their PLC meetings need to consider various protocols. One, all PLC members should build consensus to support their decision-making and communication processes. This framework allows the participants to have a say, engage in actions that can deliver desirable results, and identify evidence-based approaches for pursuing the intended goals (Schaap and de Bruijn, 2018). The group members will be in a position to pursue their objectives and meet the demands of the identified beneficiaries.
Two, goal setting is a useful protocol that plays a significant role in making PLCs successful. Team members will access the available data and make relevant inquiries. This strategy will guide them to understand some of the improvement areas and concerns affecting the learning process. The approach supports the development and continuous assessment of SMART goals (Lee et al., 2022). Additionally, the protocol will work synergistically with the first one to support the delivery of desirable outcomes.
The idea of responsive facilitation is a powerful protocol for ensuring that PLCs achieve their aims. The process allows the participants to set the right procedures, develop practical norms, and focus on the identified SMART objectives. Team leaders can rely on this protocol to create the best environment that empowers all members. All members can assume a wide range of managerial roles to maximize the level of accountability (Sunaengsih et al., 2019). When pursued intelligently, these three protocols will set the stage for achieving the much-needed results and transforming the academic performance of every learner.
PLC Best Practices
Learning institutions and their leaders can consider various initiatives to encourage and empower more educationists to utilize data-informed decisions and promote PLC best practices. The first suggestion for developing and implementing desirable PLC programs is for institutions and departments to formulate supportive guidelines (Sunaengsih et al., 2019). Such an approach will detail the roles of such PLCs, the maximum number of possible members, the time required for each meeting, and the nature of the anticipated goals. Districts or counties can create new offices whose role is to monitor the practicability and effectiveness of different PLCs.
The second proposal revolves around the provision of emerging technologies to make such meetings more enjoyable, timely, and productive. For instance, the consideration of social media platforms could allow individuals to meet virtually, brainstorm, and share insights for improving the teaching process. The inclusion of technology use in such programs can empower more experts and ensure that they in a position to access emerging information (Lee et al., 2022). The involved members will embrace such ideas and implement them in their respective learning environments.
The third recommendation is informed by the gaps existing in such a model. Specifically, the decision not to include other stakeholders and allow them to be part of such PLC meetings undermines most of the recorded results. Teachers can challenge this issue by liaising with parents, guardians, and students (Sunaengsih et al., 2019). The fourth recommendation is for leaders in learning facilities to embrace the use of case studies and success stories. This strategy is essential since most of the involved participants will find it easier to acquire evidence-based practices from past PLCs.
As a professional in the education sector, I strongly believe that I can complete a wide range of roles to support the sustainability and development of PLCs. My first role is to liaise with different professionals to identify some of the recorded loopholes and collaborate to make such meetings successful. The second one is performing leadership responsibilities to guide and encourage my colleagues to remain committed and satisfied with their undertaking (Linh & Kasule, 2022). The third strategy entails undertaking complex experimentations, completing additional researches, and eventually delivering informed strategies for improving the performance of PLCs. This form of empowerment will encourage more experts to join different PLCs since they will be assured of positive outcomes.
I am planning to introduce additional measures to discourage team members from viewing their PLC meetings as additional time for grading papers. I will achieve this aim by promoting a new culture whereby most of the emerging ideas, skills, and strategies from PLCs are implemented successfully in the learning environment. From such forums, I will guide my fellow teachers to develop and embrace proper communication skills, learn how to solve problems, and appreciate the concept of diversity (Schaap & de Bruijn, 2018). The members will acquire new strategies for delivering content and improving student performance.
PLC models are useful since they guide and empower teachers to meet the diverse academic needs of their respective students. Unfortunately, some gaps and assumptions are evident that make such models inadequate or incapable of improving the overall performance of different institutions. Consequently, educational leaders should address such challenges by providing additional resources, following outlined protocols and best practices, embracing the use of emerging technologies, and supporting the idea of data-driven implementation.
Lee, M., Kim, J. W., Mo, Y., & Walker, A. D. (2022). A review of professional learning community (PLC) instruments. Journal of Educational Administration, 60(3), 262-287.
Linh, D. N., & Kasule, G. W. (2022). Status of professional learning communities in developing countries: Case of Vietnam and Uganda. International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education, 11(1), 61-68.
Schaap, H., & de Bruijn, E. (2018). Elements affecting the development of professional learning communities in schools. Learning Environments Research, 21(1), 109–134.
Sunaengsih, C., Komariah, A., Isrokatun, I., Anggrani, M., & Silfiani, S. (2019). Survey of the implementation of professional learning community (PLC) program in primary schools. Mimbar Sekolah Dasar, 6(3), 277-291.