PLCs and Lesson Studies

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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.

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3 thoughts on “PLCs and Lesson Studies

  1. Abby

    I agree that without collaboration or communication among teachers, students get a different understanding of the curriculum. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I think that since high school classes are such a linear process (in terms of subject specific classes), it is important that within departments there is some sort of commonality. While attending high school I was enrolled in an Intro to Econ. course and our teacher was very “creative” in her instruction. The following year, when we entered Econ II, those of us that had been in Ms. S’s class were completely overwhelmed, and unable to keep up with the teaching style and content load. Had our teachers been in PLC’s there may have been more consistency. With that said, it is important for teachers to maintain authenticity in their instruction. As a hopeful teacher, I am looking forward to getting involved in a handful of PLC’s and learning from my colleagues.

    • I agree. I think PLCs are not only beneficial for us, but for our students. If we can sort of standardize our curriculum and methods, we can be reasonably assured that our students will be in about the same place at the next level.

  2. Steve

    The consistency argument for PLCs is an interesting one. I can appreciate a department wanting to have clearer expectations in lower level classes that adequately prepare students for higher levels. When PLCs perform well they can certainly break the walls of the classroom down. It is neat to see a well functioning PLC that is devoted to improving instruction. I think the Lesson Study approach can be threatening, but has potential to transform teachers’ practice, given feedback in a supportive community that is intent on providing the best educational environment for students.

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