Professional Learning Communities

“We will become better equipped to deliver great lessons by reflecting on our own practice and learning from each other.”

This term we have launched our new professional learning communities. These are training sessions that take place after school that all teachers take part in. However, professional learning communities differ from traditional teacher training, as they require participants to share and trial practical strategies as action research projects. Teachers know how to teach and there is a great deal of experience, knowledge and talent in schools. Professional Learning Communities create opportunities for teachers to share and develop approaches and strategies based on what has proven to work best in the classroom. The results of this action research will be disseminated at a whole school training day, where teachers train each other in the best classroom practice.

Teachers are introduced to the theory and evidence behind the learning community.

Teachers are introduced to practical examples that they can take away/use in their lessons straight away.

During the launch meeting, significant time is dedicated for teachers to discuss their experiences, examples and interpretations. These are summarised in a document along with others introduced by the lead teacher leading the session.

Teachers decide on specific actions and strategies that they want to try during the next 6 weeks. They may wish to arrange a lesson observation by the leader of the learning community or another member, in order to gain some feedback on trialling/implementing this practice.

As a collective learning community, teachers produce a minimum of one 30 minute workshop (larger communities or those with wide/varied examples may produce more than one workshop) for the whole school training day in September/October.

Two feedback and planning meetings take place before the end of term (at times arranged with the lead teacher), so that workshops are finalised and ready for September. Workshops are on a carousel basis and showcase action research and practical strategies that all teachers can use immediately in the planning and teaching.

There are a number of areas being researched and implemented during the summer term. ‘Not Behaviour Management’ involves exploring and planning strategies that motivate and encourage learning rather than strategies that simply manage the classroom. ‘Millthorpe Thinks’ is making use of a web based resources called The Day to engage students in thinking about wider world issues on a regular basis. Teachers taking part in ‘Inspire and Engage’ are trialling and examining strategies from colleagues, other school and educational thinkers, that inspire young people and enhance the learning environment. Some teachers are ‘Going Mobile’ by exploring the best use of digital and mobile technology in the classroom.