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24 February 2008

PLC's? Puh-leaze! (Part II)

You may have deduced by now that I have some heavy guns loaded and aimed at PLC-nation, but actually my only major qualms have to do with smaller, laughable annoyances, so I'll save that for my next/last/most enjoyable of three posts on the subject. Before being a little unfair and snarky, I thought I should give an account here of some of the positives that I've witnessed, or see the potential for, in a school that goes PLC.

1) The regular "collaborative meetings" we have probably help provide firmer accountability for teachers, since it would be fairly easy to figure out which teachers aren't doing jack in their classrooms when they have to give an account of activities each week. After all, no one wants to look like a slacker.

Now, no one has come off as a slacker in the meetings I've been in, but at my old school, I can picture a couple of bad teachers squirming mightlily under this system. Of course, even then, I don't know that it would have mattered if the principal didn't feel he could get rid of them to begin with.

2) Considering the fracturing that has occured in so many American communities, striving to give public schools a more communal feel is a worthwile goal, I believe, and this may be one way to accomplish that goal. One key in this, however is that the faculty turnover needs to be at a minimal, acceptable rate, which is something many schools have trouble with.

Another facet of this involves the now boiler-plate mantra of "meeting every student where they are" in life. Well, this if fine, but part accepting "where they are" and fostering a communal school also means having due respect for the local community you serve, and laying off the heavy-handed approach of many that goes something like, "These provincial yokels need to think like the rest of the world (i.e., urban Northeasterners and Southern Californians), and it's my job to lead them there."

Not that I'm necessarily thinking about both the New Yorker and the Californian on my hall that I've heard implying such things...

3) From what I read, PLC-mania has been a bottom-up phenomenan which has grown out of schools looking to change their approaches and then reached academicians, and not the other way around. Something that bloomed from the seeds of actual practice, and wasn't invented by some fool with a Phd. Ed. must have something to recommend it.

4) For this all to work well, administrations have to allow teachers more flexibility in the classroom, and not scratch the micro-managing itch too often.

So, really I'm on board if we are going doing these things, with the understanding that there are parts of the PLC approach which will bother me. One of the biggest annoyances is that it seems we've done nothing but talk about the damn things for the last month, and I just want to get on with them. You may feel the same by the time I finish my next, and last, PLC post for a while. Please bear with me until then!

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