Teachers know that learning is not one-directional. Teachers are learners, just like their students, so the professional learning process continues throughout one’s teaching career. Whether you are a new teacher or a seasoned veteran, professional learning communities (PLCs) provide collaborative environments in which facets of professional development are explored in the spirit of inquiry, experimentation, and innovation.
In this blog, we look at how a learning management system (LMS) helps facilitate strong PLCs.
What Are Professional Learning Communities?
Teaching and learning is a dynamic process, and one in which new challenges and opportunities present themselves on a daily basis. PLCs serve as venues for reflecting on those challenges and opportunities, which leads to curricular and pedagogical improvements.
When PLCs are hosted on an LMS, they bring together educators from multiple locations and pedagogical experiences and help provide professional development opportunities for unified pedagogical practices.
How an LMS Supports Professional Learning Communities
We look the five main attributes of PLCs as outlined by Dr. Shirley Hord, along with how an LMS can help support this concept.
1. Creates Supportive and Shared Leadership
According to Dr. Hord, supportive and shared leadership looks at how principals and education leaders work with teachers to make important decisions about programs and processes. With an LMS, stakeholders involved within a school or school system have a variety of ways to build collaborative relationships and sustain communication in ways beyond in-person professional development. For example, discussion tools along with audio and video integrations make it easier to integrate staff contributions in decision-making to anything from allocating budget to selecting recess duty time slots.
An LMS facilitates shared and collegial leadership in schools. This not only helps educators, principals, and administrators grow professionally, but it also lets them view themselves as part of the same team that is working toward a better school.
2. Encourages Collective Creativity
Supportive and shared leadership empowers stakeholders to work together to create the educational environment they want to see. PLCs are centered on generating dialogue about the teaching and learning process, where, for example, issues and challenges can be articulated and best practices are shared. These conversations allow participants to apply new ideas and information to problem solving.
3. Promotes Shared Values and Vision Among Educators
According to Dr. Hord, sharing a vision is not just agreeing with a good idea, but also with a particular mental image of what is important to an individual and to an organization. A central component of PLCs is an overarching focus on student learning.
Integrating an LMS in professional development helps ensure that all educators and administrators are working toward a shared vision through developing the required skills and knowledge to perform their job. For example, an LMS helps incorporate voluntary courses and mandated training, and manages recurring certification.
4. Fosters Supportive Conditions
Supportive conditions determine when, where, and how the staff regularly come together as a unit to learn and grow. This consists of both a structural setup along with human qualities.
The structural setup is centered on time to meet and proximity of staff. While meeting and collaborating in a shared physical space is important to cultivating and sustaining relationships, it is not always easy to schedule when, where, and how the staff regularly come together. An LMS helps create a structural setup and removes time and location barriers for educators to be part of a learning process.
The second component to foster supportive conditions rests on respect and trust. The physical and people factors are highly interactive. Developing the trust to be open to dialogue, including debate and disagreement, requires the sort of support outlined above. The communication and collaboration features of an LMS help enable effective learning through a socialization process.
5. Inspires Shared Personal Practice
The overarching goal of K–12 teaching and learning is to provide appropriate learning environments for students. But we must not forget that teachers also need an environment that values and supports hard work.
Using an LMS for professional development helps educators share their practice and be part of a high level of collaboration. Educators, principals, and administrators are no longer constrained to meeting on days students have off to do all their learning and collaboration. Instead, with an LMS, these education stakeholders can be part of debate, discussion, and disagreement, and also share their successes and even their failures. Being able to share such personal practices contributes to creating strong PLCs.
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School administrators and managers need to help make sure that the professional development needs of staff are being met. D2L Brightspace helps when it comes to giving teachers, faculty, and staff the next-generation tools they need to learn, develop, and succeed.
Whether you are facilitating compliance training, professional learning, or lifelong learning, the D2L Brightspace platform gives you the tools needed to facilitate high-quality programs that drive results.