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Professional Learning Communities - Introduction


In the context of school improvement, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) shift the focus of school reform from restructuring to reculturing. The PLC concept often is misused or implied to describe a committee or any weekly meeting in which the participants undertake data-based decision making. However, a PLC is much more than that. It is an ongoing process used to establish a schoolwide culture that is based on a fundamental belief in building teacher leadership in school improvement efforts. Through participation in PLCs, teachers enhance their leadership capacity as they work as members of ongoing, high-performing, collaborative teams that focus on improving student learning.

The PLC concept is relatively new, having grown out of the work in the mid-1990s to reculture schools. Since then, there has been much enthusiasm in schools as to the potential of PLCs for increasing teacher professional knowledge and enhancing student learning. Although research is just starting to emerge, much has been written about PLCs.

The purpose of this web-based resource is to provide practitioners with an overview of current resources -including literature and research- on PLCs. It includes:

  • The Professional Learning Communities Information Brief which summarizes recent relevant literature on the following topics:

    • What is a PLC?

    • What are the defining elements of a PLC?

    • What does the literature and emerging research tell us about the benefits of PLCs?

    • How have schools used the PLC approach in the context of improving student achievement?

    • What supports are necessary to develop and sustain a PLC?

  • A selection of web sites that feature PLC resources. While we do not necessarily endorse any of these sources, care was taken to direct readers to sites that are well established and offer a variety of resources, such as articles, research reports, links to documents, case examples, implementation tools, and blogs.

Next page: What is a PLC?