Opinion
Professional Development Opinion

Time for Reflection

By Linda Emm — October 24, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Are we naïve if we imagine schools can build professional learning communities with teacher-directed professional development? Many say “yes.“ I disagree. But it won’t happen by accident—professional learning communities must be designed and implemented strategically.

Professional learning communities have many names but share certain traits. They recognize that teachers come to the table with a wealth of knowledge and are best positioned to analyze their students’ needs. They shatter the norm of isolation by embracing the idea that “all of us know more than any one of us.“

See Also

Return to the main story,

Giving Teachers the Reins

So why isn’t everyone doing this kind of collaborative work? It isn’t easy or quick. And it demands a share of education’s scarcest resource: time.

We explored the time issue during a summer demonstration project in the Miami-Dade school district. Supported by a coach, teachers worked half-days with students, then met in teams to discuss their work and fine-tune instruction. We showed that, given enough wisely used time, professional learning communities can improve skills and accelerate learning.

Most schools are unlikely to adopt our experimental half-day schedule, but here’s where strategic planning is important.

In Miami-Dade, some high schools have adopted an eight-period schedule that includes one period for teacher collaborative team leaders given special training help groups use this time effectively. This leadership training cycle is critical to the growth of professional learning communities.

Building these communities is exhausting, messy work—but what meaningful change isn’t? The payoff is twofold: Teachers feel more in charge of their work, and students flourish because teachers are constantly reflecting on ways to teach them better.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 25, 2007 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook as Best Practices: Time for Reflection

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Professional Development Opinion Personal Finance Courses Are Booming. Do We Have the Teachers We Need?
Too few teachers currently have the training or the confidence for the job, writes an expert in personal finance education.
John Pelletier
5 min read
Illustration of teacher teaching about finances.
Aleksei Naumov / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Professional Development Opinion In Staff Professional Development, Less Is More
There’s a key ingredient missing from most PD sessions, PLCs, and education conferences.
Brooklyn Joseph
4 min read
Image of a grid with various segments dedicated to training and a large section dedicated to a clock.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
Professional Development This Principal Knew PD Was Irrelevant. So He and His Teachers Changed It
A Vermont principal and teacher describe their school's new approach to PD.
5 min read
Emilee Fertick, left, a first-year teacher at Westview Middle, and Jenny Risinger, the director of professional development and induction, practice a phonemic exercise during induction.
Emilee Fertick, left, a first-year teacher at Westview Middle, and Jenny Risinger, the director of professional development and induction, practice a phonemic exercise during induction.
Lindsey Hodges/The Index-Journal via AP
Professional Development Q&A Teachers Dread PD. Here's How One School Leader Made It Engaging
Teachers need to collaborate in their own learning, said Courtney Walker, an assistant principal from Georgia.
5 min read
Photo of teachers working with instructor.
E+ / Getty