16th November 2010
Many of us take professional development seriously as we recognise the to stay current and relevant in terms of content mastery, teaching pedagogy, and assessment. This importance is also reflected in our Work Review Document and so we find ourselves attending workshops, seminars, conferences etc. to ensure that we maximise the number of training hours. We have been moving in the right direction but it is time to add more vigour to these initiatives by moving away from teacher emphasis to one that involves the school, teachers and pupils. Hence, the origin of Professional Learning Community by Richard Dufor.
So what is a PLC? A PLC is one where teachers work collaboratively in teams to achieve high levels of student learning and positive student outcomes which are aligned to school goals. Teams meet regularly and work interdependently to bring about positive change in student learning. Teachers adopt different tools to embark on this learning journey such as Action Research, Lesson Study, Learning Circles. Teachers collaborate in areas such as refining and redesigning lesson plans and materials as well as enhance teaching strategies and assessment practices. It is an ongoing cycle of reflection that promotes deep team learning through shared experience.
For a PLC to take off, we should start by considering what The 3 Big Ideas are:
a. Ensuring Students Learn
b. Building a Culture of Collaboration
c. Focusing on Student Outcomes
And we should ask ourselves the 4 Critical Questions, namely:
a) What is it we expect our pupils to learn?
b) How will we know that the pupils have learnt?
c) How will we respond if the pupils have not learnt?
d) How will we respond if the pupils already know what is to be learn?
Dr Yeap then discussed the use of Lesson study as a tool. He highlighted the need to formulate Research Themes so that we can bridge the gap between the ideal situation and the current reality.
An example of a research theme in a Lesson Study is: To engage pupils in the learning of Mathematics; To help pupils develop reasoning and communication skills.
After a rich discussion about PLC, we moved on to the hands-on session, where we were required to find the sum of the interior angles of a polygon giving the cut-outs of some polygons. Some of us remember learning this in schools many years ago and were trying to recall the formulae.
Other used the knowledge of the sum of the interior angles of a triangle to arrive at the answer which was 720 degrees (6 sided polygon) We then explored the ways to get this answer and incidentally came to this: ( n-2) x 180 Through effective questioning, we made us conscious of our meta cognitive processes.
Dr Yeap used this lesson to demonstrate how it encapsulated the principles of PETALS. The important factor to bear in mind is the crafting of the anchor problem. The nature of the problem should be open-ended and we could see the interplay of all the principles. I always enjoy the way Dr Yeap concludes the lesson by tying up all the fragments of the lesson neatly into a package. It is a simply a delight.