As a great educator asked me in a conversation we were having the other day, “Where does PLC fit with innovation?” We are saturated in a moment in time in education where PLC is the thing. Everyone is part of one(whatever that means as I have found that it looks different and means different things across schools across the nation), but the end goal ends up being teachers doing a lot of the same. Is it good? I don’t know. Does it lead to the typical managing system where we teach for the middle? Get out our binders, turn to page 33, and now recite to kids….. I find myself struggling because I realize that we must do more to ensure learning is taking place. We must start viewing students as our students and not my students. But in doing so are we actually achieving the other goals of innovative, problem solving, 21st century thinking students or cloned versions of one another?
Great teachers are being asked to do more and more and more to prove that they are already doing the art of teaching. They are asked to document all their work that they already know is working. They are asked to lead the way, come up with answers that the big education institutions cannot develop while the inadequate teachers just tag along and use whatever paperwork or data is often collected. Nothing ever changes besides the good ones getting burned out. In this system our good teachers lose their chance for innovation because they are being forced to be mediocre as they are constantly being asked to bring up the inadequate. Students become numbers, not people. Focus is on data, not relationships. What I believe is that PLC’s are easy to manage and many schools flock to everyone doing the same thing mentality because it is easy to chart and manage. Real learning does not happen with management. Real learning is messy. Real learning happens at different stages, speeds, and paces.
I say this but I am lucky enough to be part of some good PLC’s. We actually do get quality work done. We challenge how we teach. We are constantly trying to get better. But I feel that with all the work it was what I did 10 years ago because that is just what good teachers do. It often reminds me of the typical school punishment where one kid is being a butthead so the whole class misses recess. Punish everyone because we are a “team” instead of going after the issue at hand.
Once again, I don’t know. My head spins. I read about PLC and like I say all the time it is one of those things that works really well in theory land, but in reality it is a whole new beast.
I have a fear. A big fear.
As education continues to push for a robotic like structure in classrooms and teaching I see innovation losing out. I see teaching being the focus and not the learning. Students will continue to lose sight of the excitement for learning. All the negative that comes with disengaged students will rise and we will have not solved anything that we hoped the spreadsheets would prove.