My current experiences with professional learning practices thus far have been generally positive, but individualized more than collaborative.
When I started in this district 3 years ago, it was my first experience with PLCs. My current knowledge of PLCs is limited, although I know that the general cycle of group inquiry begins with a collective question or goal, data collection and tracking, reflection as a group on that data, decisions made together to react to what the data tells us (sharing of best practices, trying new strategies to see who has the better results, etc.), collecting data again and continuing this cycle. I have worked in a PLC ever since joining my current school, but I have never felt like we follow this cycle as we set common goals and discuss how we are addressing these goals, but we have never compared data nor reacted to data to adjust our teaching, which I feel are actually the critical steps. There actually seems to be a true aversion to data collection with my colleagues, and I have felt jeered at recently when attempting to suggest we use data collection to improve our practice.
Due to diverse attitudes towards data collection and collaboration in my PLC, I have chosen a more individualized and personal route of professional learning, pursuing workshops and trainings multiple times a year, organizing trainings to share with colleagues, pursuing my Masters in Teacher Leadership and working to apply this learning directly to my classroom, and pursuing my National Board Certification, which is an inherently reflective process.
I became a teacher to help level the playing field, close the gap, play my role in making the world a more just place. However, I have not always felt like I am directly achieving this. I am curious to see how professional learning can be pursued through a social justice lens in this class this Quarter, as is mentioned in the article Building Hope, Giving Affirmation by Stephanie Hirsh and Shirley M. Hord. I do feel like social justice issues have been raised by our administration, and this year, we were encouraged to work in our PLCs to design units of work that would be accessible to low income students and our African American and Latino students. Unfortunately, we were given little time and no guidance/resources for how to do this, and so teachers more focused on designing collaborative units of work more than units designed to support specific populations of students within the school.