How is Professional Development changing?

A teacher sits at a table in a circle with elementary students

Professional Development of the 21st Century is changing in dramatic ways in response to an increasing body of research supporting collaborative, process-oriented learning focused on student achievement and improved instructional practice. As a result, many schools and districts are creating Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) across the nation, but few are putting together the necessary conditions required to implement and sustain authentic PLCs.

PLCs done right

PLCs done wrong

Professional learning communities – when done right – can be some of the best and most rewarding professional development educators can experience. It is empowering, directly connected to the classroom, meaningful, produces results, and is research-based. Unfortunately, when done wrong, it merely adds to workload, creates additional committee work, and provides no rewards or benefits to either educators or students.

Where do I go for help?

A teacher and instructor's hands make corrections to a page in red penWEA members can contact Scott Poirier from the WEA Center for Education Quality with questions about identifying the necessary conditions required to implement PLCs, team norms, procedures, study group protocols, looking at student work protocols, collaboration practices, coaching, and shared leadership. .

Why the WEA is involved with Professional Learning Communities

  • Members consistently request classroom connected, relevant professional development.
  • Research shows collaborative professional learning communities are consistently found in effective schools. 
  • PLCs inherently values the knowledge and expertise of WEA members.
  • Many districts and schools are trying to develop PLCs without identifying and addressing the necessary conditions required to effectively implement this professional development strategy. 
  • Collaboration done right helps to lighten the workload for everyone.
  • Districts and schools are looking for ways to “find” time for collaborative models within the regular contract day.