Tools & Methods
Tools & Methods for PLCs - Discussion & Organization
The Structure of PLC Meetings
PLCs do not necessarily need an expert who is expected to tell the rest of the group what to do or to have answers for all oncoming problems, but they need a person who acts as a facilitator, who makes sure that the meetings happen, that the agenda is followed, who provides a room, working material etc. PLCs should be planned to run for at least 2 years with meetings in a monthly interval. Ideally each meeting should last between 75 minutes and two hours to ensure all members to report back. In order to achieve the expected results, PLC meetings should – at least at the beginning – follow a clearly defined structure. The core of the following meeting format was developed by Dylan Wiliam (2007/2008).
Each PLC member decides on an individual action plan, which gives him or her orientation over the planned development and the main steps of his or her project.
Steps at each meeting of a PLC
Introduction (5–10 minutes)
Participants agree on the aims of the meeting and get ready to focus on the agenda.
How‘s It Going? (30–50 minutes)
This segment of the meeting is the „active ingredient“ — the part that has the greatest influence on teacher/head practice — and so it must not be squeezed out if time is short. Each participant gives a summary of what he or she has tried to achieve in the previous month and receives support from the rest of the group in taking his or her plans forward.
New Learning (25–40 minutes)
Since the first, second, fourth, and fifth segments are the same for each meeting, there is a danger that the meetings can become stale. To avoid this problem, the middle section of the meeting should be different each month, providing variety and a way of introducing new ideas to the group.
Personal Action Planning (10–15 minutes)
Some participants may want to revise their action plan as a result of what they have heard, whereas others may be content to maintain their original focus. Either way, it is important for participants to have time to think through, in detail, what they plan to do during the coming month.
Review of the Meeting (5 minutes)
Finally, participants return to the original objectives of the meeting and check to see whether they were achieved. If not, the group makes plans for how to ensure that the objectives are achieved during the coming month or at the next meeting.
Although the structure of PLC meetings can change in time or vary depending on the goals and the focus of the group, it is important to start with and have a solid structure in order to reach the full potential of the PLC.
S. Hjort & P. Landström, The importance of PLCs for inclusive schools - Linköping meeting