Teachers arrive at Shaker Road School each morning ready for a full day of instruction and guidance with their students. This is one aspect of a teacher’s professional life. After the final “bell,” teachers enter another important aspect of their lives as educators: learning. As with any other profession, teachers must maintain their credentials and put in many hours each year dedicated to improving their craft. Unlike some independent schools, SRS requires teachers to seek and maintain teaching certification. Some of this is done independently through courses, seminars, or professional reading, but much of it is done in collaboration with their colleagues at SRS in the Professional Learning Community (PLC).
The PLC provides continuous professional learning that helps teachers grow as educators. Popularized by Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker, PLCs foster collaborative study among the school’s faculty and capitalizes on local experts to advance teachers’ professional development. One of my roles beyond the classroom is helping Mr. Matt plan each year’s PLC. In my role as chair of the Curriculum Committee, I work with teachers to design, deliver, and evaluate curriculum. Through this work, we also identify areas for professional growth to improve teaching and learning at SRS.
Mr. Matt and I meet early each summer to review the progress made by both the Curriculum Committee and the PLC during the previous year and plan for the future. Teachers are encouraged to suggest areas of focus, and we identify trends in education through leading organizations like ASCD that also provide suitable content. With an eye toward what learning is most necessary for our faculty and the latest educational research, we identify resources for the next fall.
The PLC has been active at SRS for more than a decade. Each year, we focus on three to five areas depending on complexity. Recent topics of study have included grit and growth mindset, assessment, communication, technology, and 21st Century Learning. Our focus for the PLC this year is professional writing. Teachers work in teams focused on different areas of writing, including reviews of current educational literature, journal articles, blogs, and even a children’s book complete with illustrations. Each month, the full faculty convenes in the evening for two hours to continue its learning and share team progress. It’s a natural way for teachers to continue to be life-long learners in a setting that has direct benefits for students, though the ASCD conference in Anaheim this March does sound like a nice break!
For more information about the PLC or ongoing learning for educators at SRS, feel free to contact me or Mr. Matt.
Cathy Linden is a middle school teacher and advisor with a specialization in mathematics. She maintains both K-8 and mathematics certification and is chair of the school’s Curriculum Committee.