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For Teachers, By Teachers: Making Professional Learning Authentic through Teacher-Led Professional Learning Communities

Andrew Knips — Teach Plus

How do we make professional learning more authentic, relevant, and impactful for educators? Many educators associate professional development (PD) with one-off, lecture-style presentations that feel completely disconnected from their classroom experiences. This discussion will explore a different model of professional learning that is ongoing, closely connected to teaching and learning, and wholly teacher-driven. Drawing on the successful implementation of teacher-led professional learning communities in five School District of Philadelphia (SDP) elementary schools in partnership with Teach Plus, we will share resources and lessons learned from an inquiry-based, data-driven model for teacher team learning.

The facilitator will begin with a short video of a teacher leader facilitating a PLC. We will then give participants structured space to dissect the video on topics ranging from the energy in the room to the content being explored, and compare the video to what's playing out in participants’ own context. The facilitator will also share two overall frameworks for developing teacher leaders' ability to run PLCs. We will explore in small groups an inquiry cycle, a leadership development continuum, and a framework for shared leadership. Participants will have time to self-assess and share where their school currently stands in relation to implementing these best practices. Finally, partners will explore sample agendas and protocols, and then share takeaways with each other. Along with a Q&A at the end, discussion will center primarily around the best practices and resources shared in the session, and how the content could be applied to the local school contexts.

Conversational Practice

  • Dyads
  • Conversation protocol
  • Small group resource exploration

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