PLCs, or Professional Learning Communities, is an extended learning opportunity for teachers, encouraging collaborative learning and feedback within a school. Implemented correctly, PLCs have the ability to aid all members of the education community: teachers, students, administrators, and parents.
Lesson studies, principally used within the Japanese schools system, work in the same way as PLCs. Both focus on student success and creating a successful educational environment. One of the positives of PLCs and Lesson Studies are the collaborative assessment of the teacher. It introduces new teaching methods and perspectives, a supportive environment for both teachers and administrators, and a way to improve lessons and lesson practices.
The collaboration inherent in PLCs and Lesson Studies is applicable to all facets of education and is key to creating a successful academic environment. However, it is important for PLCs to be organized and structured to ensure their success. For greater teacher success, teachers should be involved in a variety of PLCs, not just subject/grade specific ones. By being involved in a variety of PLCs, teachers get a greater perspective of the educational environment of their schools, as well as learning different techniques to approach problems.
Currently, schools operate under a “teacher as an island” mentality. The teacher has their classroom, they teach the material in the way they think best, and there is no feedback from their colleagues. This results in students with varying understandings of the set curriculum, many of whom aren’t adequately prepared to move on to the next level of their education. PLCs allow teachers to work together, determining what material is being covered and what isn’t and working to best achieve their goals and the goals of their students.
While it might seem obvious that teachers should be communicating and collaborating, it really hasn’t been the case. Just as students have different learning styles, teachers have different teaching styles. It is incredibly important for teachers to balance their own individuality with the collaborative environment in order to create a classroom that can best prepare students for the next stage of their education, as well for the future.