Collaborating with Purpose for Equity and Excellence
Like too many other school structures and reform strategies, professional collaboration has been treated as an end rather than as a means to an end. How can we tell? Schools that are on the professional learning community (PLC) bandwagon start with the structure and focus on planning in detail what the PLC meetings should look like, how frequently they should be held, which adults in the school building should control the agenda, and how much time should be allocated to each topic on the agenda. In these cases, the PLCs become another form of faculty meetings rather than a vehicle for learning together as a community of practice. To be clear, we are not dismissing the importance of attending to the management of structures; rather, we are troubled that the discussion of management often supersedes a larger discussion about the purpose and vision for professional collaboration that should drive decisions about time, frequency, and agenda. The focus becomes the cycle of doing and acting without the investigating and reflecting part. In these cases, PLCs exist only in name and not in purpose for teacher and student learning. Activities drive the process rather than the overarching goal (Bradley, Munger, & Hord, 2015).