Professional Learning Communities: What do I mean by a PLC?

PLCs have been around for years in a variety of guises, including Teacher Learning Communities in the Dylan Wiliam/Tapestry model.

As I understand them, PLCs aim to improve the learning of pupils through the professional learning of teachers.

Our implementation of PLCs at North Berwick High School has grown organically over a period of 18 months, and has been described both as "The Coaching Project" and "Coaching for Professional Enquiry".  We eventually settled on "Professional Learning Communities" when we realised that our model bore so many similarities to other implementations that it seemed pointless to hold on to our distinct name.

The North Berwick PLCs are groups of eight to ten teachers who have volunteered to participate.  They come together for 75 minute meetings six times per session, and participants engage in peer-observation, peer-coaching and collaborative professional enquiry throughout the year.  Each PLC is chaired by someone who has previously participated in a PLC. The meetings provide opportunities for planning, goal setting, reporting back on progress and discussions about pedagogy.

Our PLCs are founded on the following principles:

  • every teacher needs to improve, because every teacher is capable of improving
  • improvement comes through increased awareness of our impact on learners, and through taking responsibility for developing our own practice
  • improvement comes through taking a positive, solution-focused approach
  • improvement comes through being asked good questions, not through being told what to do
  • improvement comes through looking in the right places
  • improvement comes through reflection, enquiry, evaluation, discussion and feedback - not through judging or being judged


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