The Power of PLCs

Professional learning communities have become incredibly popular in schools, providing a structure for collaboration and learning that was lacking in traditional, large-group professional development. Having a great PLC, however, requires the C—community. Educators working in rural areas, or even educators in larger districts who teach specialized subjects, may not have educators nearby who they can collaborate with thus limiting their professional learning opportunities.

Teachers in rural Illinois, as described in this article from the Shelbyville Daily Union, are solving this problem by creating multi-district PLCs. This gives teachers in small schools and district the chance to share ideas with others who teach similar grades and subjects. They share the same rural setting, which provides them with a support system in the form of other educators who understand their context and accompanying challenges.

For some however, where rural might mean even greater geographic isolation than these teachers in Illinois experience, even multi-district solutions may not be feasible. For example, an educator in Alaska once provided her definition of rural as, “A place you have to fly to in order to get there.” These educators are likely limited to online environments, such as communities formed in online courses or social media. While these can be powerful, relying on luck and happenstance for online collaborations can be frustrating for those who teach in unique contexts. Metiri is working to facilitate the process of helping educators find other educators with similar contexts and interests so that everyone has someone to collaborate with who can help you learn and improve your practice. We believe everyone can benefit from having a collaborative support system, and we are striving to provide this for teachers who may otherwise not have adequate support.

If you have had trouble finding a PLC that matches your needs and interests, let us know what you’re looking for. What things are important to you in a “critical professional friend?” What type of support do you really need? What types of support have you had trouble finding? What unique challenges do you have in your particular position or geographic region? We would love to hear from you.