Professional Learning Communities

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David Hamlett

David Hamlett’s career in education spans 40 years in Australia and Canada. Winner of the prestigious "Australian Secondary Principal of the Year in 2011 his interests include: pedagogical development,school improvement and social capital. Currently working as a mentor to school leaders focussing on school transformation and capacity building.

We know that traditional teaching with an expert at the front providing knowledge to learners isn’t the most effective method for learning.

Now think about the last professional development experience you had? Was it a similar model to that? What we know doesn’t work for a student, doesn’t always work for an adult either.

PLCs are a new way to develop your professional skills.

  • Work with peers
  • Learn informally
  • Learn what you want when you want
  • Share your own expertise with others

With virtual and face to face options, being part of a PLC can really help you take your practice into the 21st century and enable you to support others as well.

Become a ‘connected learner.’

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David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Professional Learning Communities – Divergence,Depth and Dilemmas - Part 2 Developing a deeper understanding of how to develop PLC's. There is a considerable amount of writing on professional learning communities, their characteristics and development processes, and yet it is extremely difficult to develop professional learning communities. This is at least partly due to the many ‘layers’ that exist when establishing a culture of collaboration in schools; the subtle nuances of communication, relationship building, collaboration and collective learning. Judith Warren Little (2002: 944) posed a challenge a few years ago to those...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Professional Learning Communities – Divergence,Depth and Dilemmas Part 1: The evolving nature of professional learning communities. Part 1: The evolving nature of professional learning communities. There is no universal definition of a professional learning community, but there is a consensus that you will know that one exists when you can see a group of teachers sharing and critically interrogating their practice in an ongoing, reflective, collaborative, inclusive, learning-oriented, growth-promoting way (Mitchell and Sackney 2000; Toole and Louis 2002). An underlying assumption is that the teachers involved see the group as...
Lisa Fink
Professional Learning Communities Connected Educator Month When October hits, you’ll be well into the routines of school and perhaps ready for some fresh inspiration. That’s why for the past two years educators from around the world have celebrated Connected Educators Month -- and you can too! (CEM) is a month-long exploration of key educational issues through online communities and networks, dedicated to broadening and deepening educator participation, as well as bringing online community and education leaders together to move towards a more fully...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Characteristics of a Collaborative Learning Community. Along with other buzzwords and fads in education, "collaborative learning community" has the potential to lose its meaning, of losing its potency. Taken individually, each concept has incredible power and together, there is a synergy, a revolutionary force that we have not even begun to recognize yet in schools. So what is this thing called a "collaborative learning community"? It is a philosophy as well as a place; it is a way of being as well as a working model. It is a mindset as well as a ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities What is the difference between Collaboration and Teamwork? Teamwork and collaboration have many things in common but are fundamentally different. A professional learning community takes the characteristics of both to build collaborative teams whose aim is to take mutual responsibility for the learning outcomes of students. By building your understanding of the differences between teamwork and collaboration you will be in a position to make the most appropriate choice when asking teachers to work together. The term collaborative planning team is ...
hannington ochieng
Professional Learning Communities THE END PRODUCT OF TEACHER COLLABORATION Appreciative of the fact that we do not live in islands and that education is universal,collaborative effort of teachers from whichever part of the globe will quite often add valuable skills and expertise to the teaching fraternity.Knowledge is not a preserve of an individual and sharing it makes it much more useful than holding it to ones grave for then it will have played a pivotal role in shaping a person's destiny.The challenge is-at what point is collaboration most effective and what of it...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Teacher Collaboration Builds Social Capital and Improves Student Learning. In previous entries I have drawn attention to the importance of social capital as an importance scaffold for improving student learning in high performing schools. Social capital at its most basic is a measure of the quality of relationships that exist within a school community and how these relationships support a schools capacity to improve student learning. The OECD report into 21st Century Learning found that variance in student learning outcomes was as great and in many cases greater ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Schools as Collaborative Communities This article was promoted by a conversation with staff at Mentor School in India who are currently focusing on a project to develop a collaborative learning culture across the school. The following commentary comes fro Carole Cooper and Julie Boyd whose article touches on many of the important issues associated with the increasingly prevalent use of the collaboration as a tool for teaching and learning. With all the buzzwords and fads in education, "collaborative learning community" has the ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Characteristics of a Community - Schools as Learning Communities Sometimes we need to look carefully at the words and ideas we throw around as a matter of course, in doing do we espouse a certain set of beliefs and values about our school communities. There is that word again, ‘community’. When we talk about school communities or sub communities such as professional learning communities what are we really alluding to and why do we see a sense of ‘community’ as being an essential characteristic of a high performing school. By definition a community is a group...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities What makes a good teacher - Theory or Practice? With a change of government in Australia we now in the process of determining what influences may now come into play at the political level that will have profound =influences on the way we work over the next few years. Christopher Pyne the new Federal Minister of Education is driven by his desire to improve teacher standards and who would disagree with this admirable ambition. But how does he intend to do this? Christopher Pyne believes that most teacher training institutions are too ...
Steve Martin
Professional Learning Communities What a dream it is..... What a dream it is that all members of a school community including students, teachers and management are innovative, reflective and self-regulating learners and each individual striving to be as effective as they can be within their own domains. All require an awareness and understanding of the notions that learning is infinite, that anxiety impedes learning, and that all skills can be learnt through purposeful practice. The final important notion is that evidence, both qualitative and ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Every Team Needs a Coach - The Role of the Principal In the past it was not uncommon to see sporting teams lead by a playing coach who was also usually the team captain and one of the best players. This model still persists in social leagues in many sports across the globe. However when we look at elite teams, those at the top of their game we never see one person coaching and playing. The team captain plays at the elbows on his team, takes leadership responsibility both at training and on game day. More frequently whether in NRL, NBL, AFL ...
Alvin Crawford
Professional Learning Communities $300 Million for PD? Let’s Throw a Little (or a lot) Towards Virtual Learning Communities Obama’s 2015 budget proposal allocated $200 million in funding for Connected Education. Another $300 million is going towards teacher professional development. This money is targeting 100,000 teachers spanning 500 districts. This is right on point for making a real change in the world of education. Both Connected Education and PD are critical to the improvement of our education system and student achievement. With PD, a mix of “formal” and “informal” learning is imperative. Through formal ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Data Driven or Data Informed - Is there a Difference? In my most recent position as a Principal Network Leader my primary responsibility was to work with principals around school improvement. To lead conversations around school performance and strategies that might be adopted to improve performance and meet the goals and objectives identified in school improvements plans by way of outcome targets and key performance indicators. The conversations in schools focused on questions and topics such as; Where are the areas of that need improvement? How...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Making a cultural shift from teaching to learning. Why is this necessary? Where high functioning professional learning communities, collaborative planning teams or learning teams are in place, invariably you find school leadership has made provision for staff to effectively collaborate. These provisions include; time to meet within corporate time, established and agreed to group norms, data to analyses and inform decision making and educators committed to making a difference and a willingness to share and question their practice. Above all of these however that is ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Making Measureable Differences in Literacy. The Power of Learning Through Collaboration. Today I publish an article written by quest blogger Chris Topher. Chris has published several books on spelling and comprehension and is recognized throughout Australia and the Oceania Region for her outstanding contribution to improving teachers understanding on the skills and strategies that students needs to have to meet the ever increasing demands of a world highly dependent on communication. Chris can be contacted either by replying to this post or at: chris.topher@education.tas.gov.au. ‘To ...
Doug Bergman
Professional Learning Communities JOIN US: FACEBOOK group: Expert Educators from all over the world. We'd like to get ALL Expert Educator (who went to Barcelona) to connect in social media. We have created a Facebook group to allow instant communication. This discussion is incredible. We already have 58 members, please join us! ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Partners in Learning Global Forum - Is this the worlds largest PLC? I am looking forward to spending the next week working with some of the most innovative educators in the world as we seek to build schools that can successfully meet the needs of todays students. I have shied away from saying anything about 21st century schools. We must stop talking about 21st century schooling as if it is something in the future, to do so does an enormous injustice to the millions of students in our schools today. Some just embarking on the journey and some finishing ...
Jeanette Delgado
Professional Learning Communities Connectivism an alternative to informal professional learning Recently, I wrote about connectivism and I want to share some ideas about the learning theory (Delgado, 2014). George Siemens (2006) formulated a learning theory based in the network connections in the digital age. Siemens (2006) indicated that the world changed; technology transformed how individuals interacted with information and knowledge evolved in a dynamic and interactive process. “Learning is a process of creating networks” (Siemens, 2006, p. 29). Connectivist key ideas can be ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Why is teamwork Important? Creating a team at work is very easy. One will just have to put a few people together and a team is formed. However, the real work is to create teamwork. If the members of the team do not perform together, then achieving targets will almost be next to impossible. Teamwork should be looked upon as a bond, which helps in keeping the members of the team together by promoting strength, reliability and support. If one has to see the five stages of team development, one can see that reliability has an...
Sonya Daisley-Harrison
Professional Learning Communities Professional Learning I have often been intrigued by the use of the terms professional learning and professional development and what they actually imply and deliver for the teaching profession. Is there a difference between the two and if so what is it? I believe there is a fundamental difference and once we understand the difference we will be in a much better position to structure the professional growth of teachers and improve the quality of teaching in our schools. Professional development should be used to ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities How effective are Professional Learning Communities? Evidence of Effectiveness For many years Ric and Rebecca Defour have been working with schools in developing a culture of collaborative practice using the structured of PLC student driven and focused professional learning cycles to drive school improvement. Their website: provides a range of resources and insights. Want proof that the PLC process is working for others and can work for you, too? Search their database () to find schools and districts similar to yours that have built successful...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities 2014 - The Year of Collaboration. As schools begin 2014 let us make a New Year's resolution to foster collaboration both within and beyond the Partners in Learning Network. Let's find and share new ways to work together and build both real and online learning communities. The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians has as one of its key action areas the 'developing of stronger partnerships'. Central to this action is the need to: make learners and learning central to the decision making in schools, see ...
Md. Abdur Rahaman
Professional Learning Communities Traditional education system can not reach the goal It is very much important to follow the modern method of education. Peer coaching is one of the most important factor in education. ...
Mark Sparvell
Professional Learning Communities 'Professional Commons', the THIRD PLACE? In thinking 'out loud' about this topic, it seemed appropriate that I should post my developing thinking in such a 'THIRD SPACE' Thanks for taking the time to read. I've been pondering for some time how we can legitimise participation in online learning communities for professionals...to see and value both active contribution and also peripheral participation as professional practice. Online communities like this one present an incredible opportunity for situated learning to take place. I'm ...
Padma S
Professional Learning Communities ROLE OF EDUCATORS IN BRIDGING PERFORMANCE GAPS BETWEEN PRESENT AND DESIRED FUTURE Educators are effective contributors to the organizational goals. Organizational learning in educative environment occurs when educators respond more effectively to the positive learning outcome related stimulus than they did in the past. Proactive and creative approach of the educators encourages students to explore innovative solutions/strategies. Learning happens best in the context of organizational cultures that value growth, openness, trust and risk taking. As educators, we have to ...
Eman Yousef
Professional Learning Communities Let Your Students Get to Know You From my experience as a teacher . I think that the first thing to do is to introduce yourself and let your students introduce themselves also and talk about their hobbies and activities. Breaking the ice and personalizing your relationship is often the key to a successful school year. In my classroom, I encourage my students to talk about themselves, their lives , hobbies, activities outside of school. ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities The Teaching Game - Tennis or Football When I started teaching in the early 70’s I came out of university with all the enthusiasm of youth, limited pedagogical knowledge and an environment in schools where teachers relied to a large extend of their experience of schools to frame their practice. With hindsight I am surprised that my students survived my initial efforts to be a ‘teacher’. We were expected to do our job with little support and what support we did get was mainly on the administrative side with little focus oin pedagogy...
Robert Jackson
Professional Learning Communities We Are Not Good Until We Are All Good David’s attached document, “Taroona High School – The Way We Work, is a clear example of what is needed to make professional learning communities successful. We know by incorporating professional learning communities (PLC’s) there has been a resultant wide range of effectiveness at improving student achievement and teacher professional practice. The reason for this is stated quite aptly in David’s post – without clear direction, they were viewed as largely a social time to come together and in...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities The Collaborative Inquiry Continuum.... Supporting Conditions Bob Jackson's post reminded me of the importance of really understanding the nature of the work of learning teams, the way they are structured and the outcomes that can be expected. As a newly appointed Principal several years ago I wasted no time in convincing staff and the school community of the merits of team work and established what I saw as highly effective collaborative planning teams based around grades and faculties(subject departments). I thought, rather naively in hindsight, that ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities A post from Bob Jackson...Collaborative Inquiry in Ontario David asks the question if knowledge building just the latest fad. From early understanding of this concept I see it as a next step to the Collaborative Inquiry (C-I) process occurring in schools in Ontario, Canada. It is not an extension of the C-I process but a next step that can be embedded in the process. I had the opportunity to hear Marlene Scardamalia speak and she made the point the at one time, the purpose of schools was to pass along culture, instill values, impart knowledge and ...
Tatjana Kriliuviene
Professional Learning Communities Working in PLCs can be easy! Sounds strange? Last year we had so many problems in finding time to meet each other for a conversation, consultation or discussion. This year we housed Office 365 for collaboration in PLC groups. And it works! Our focus this year is students‘ assessment and all teachers are looking for innovative ways to encourage their students to learn and evaluate their achievements. Therefore, it is very useful to share each other‘s experience, take the best practices and step forward towards the progress in...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Knowledge Building - What does this mean for Educators and Schools In an early post I talked about the need to move from knowledge transmission to knowledge creation in schools and that teachers needed to bring a new paradigm to their planning. Whether we recognise it or not knowledge creation has become a fundamental part of everyday life. Every minute thousands on new entries are loaded to sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and numerous other social media sites. We might argue that this is not essential knowledge but it is certainly information. We live...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Evaluating professional development... " Are you making a difference?" Schools and systems vast amounts of money and time in the professional development of their staff, individual teachers devote their time to improving their professional skills, knowledge and understanding. How can we just the effectiveness of this investment? How can we evaluate the impact professional development has on the capacity of schools to improve their practice? I suggest in this post that a possible model for evaluating the success of professional development and the establishment of ...
Steve Martin
Professional Learning Communities A case study in developing a professional learning community. I have been part of group that has been leading professional development in our school. This group consists of 7 individuals who design, facilitate and deliver the professional development program at the school. Each individual works on a reduced timetable with four hours dedicated to the professional development of our staff. The whole staff is divided into 6 learning groups, each with a senior member of staff including the Principal, led by one of these individuals. The group came about through...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Your mission, should you chose to accept it.... Years ago, the television show Mission Impossible always began with a scene in which the team leader, Mr. Phelps, would receive a tape describing his next mission. The tape invariably began, "Your mission, should you choose to accept it..." No matter how silly the rest of the show became, this single line reveals a keener understanding of human nature than is displayed by most product development organizations. Elite organizations have always appreciated the importance of voluntary choice when ...
David Hamlett
Professional Learning Communities Professional Learning - "A Cost or an Investment" We are all familiar with capital when we talk about money. We know that we can earn it, spend it, save it and invest it. Some people are experts in helping other grow their 'wealth'. Many people accept they have a responsibility to share their wealth with others less fortunate. Nations accept global responsibility to support other nations in times of need. How is this relevant in schools? What is the nature of capital in schools? It would seem reasonable to argue that professional learning can se...
Nina Dixon-Mauricia
Professional Learning Communities Trust and the Professional Learning Community For Professional Learning Communities to be effective, the foundation for the work must be trust. In previous experiences, I’ve found that most PLC’s act as conduits for district mandates that clearly outline how outcomes will be implemented and measured. This can become problematic when not all stakeholders share the vision and/or belief in what they’ve been tasked to solve. During the 2012-2013 school year, I had the good fortune to work alongside colleagues who’ve forever changed my opinion ...
Jennifer Bevill
Professional Learning Communities Personal Learning Communities and Preventing Burnout I have been teaching since 2001 and reached the point of burn out a few times throughout my career. In a previous school I was surrounded by teachers that were happy to teach the same curriculum using the same activities and tests year after year. I constantly heard about all that was wrong with our school, education system, and students. I was buying into their negativity, becoming complacent, and truly believing I could not make a difference. This was not the teacher I wanted to be. I was ...
Tatjana Kriliuviene
Professional Learning Communities How can we make ALL members of PLCs work as much as they could? It has become a generally established practice that students and teachers communicate online - teachers set or accept students’ homework online (by email, in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, MS Skype). Some tasks are uploaded and downloaded from the Intranet where all subjects have got their sections. PCs in classrooms give teachers and students possibility to teach/learn online during the lessons (interactive exercises or demonstrations online). A number of classrooms are equipped with SMART boards and...