Having regular time set aside for sharing ideas, collaboration, and brainstorming is one way that teachers benefit from professional learning communities.
For the past few years, the Ames School District in Iowa has been regularly strengthening the use of professional learning communities (PLC) to enable teachers to improve and ultimately pass on the benefit to their students. “If we are having a problem with anything from classroom management to instruction to a struggling student, we talk about how we can help, ” said Mitchell Elementary teacher Whitney Johns.
Teachers in the same grade level in Ames meet weekly for their PLC time. They work together to discover what works best on teaching each subject and each unit. Johns and fellow fourth grade teacher Amanda McGonigle usually give students a pre-assessment to determine their weaknesses and find out what they need to know. They then enter results on a spread sheet so teachers can see what the students have master and what areas need more instruction.
The pre and post assessments are valuable as students themselves can see their growth, and teachers can know what to expect as students are promoted to a new grade level.