PRESIDENT'S MESSAGES | SUMMER 2008
By: Tony Giacobazzi
What You Do is What Matters...Not What You Call It
Professional Learning Community (PLC)
My wife Helen, who is an educator, and I have had some interesting conversations lately around "professional learning communities." A honed and well working PLC can bring about powerful change in the work place, and high client satisfaction whether it is in the world of school districts or businesses.
Richard and Rebecca DuFour have established a model that educators everywhere are beginning to implement. Many businesses are also seeing PLCs as a highly successful vehicle to bring about positive change in the way they do business. The quotes I have included here are from one of their books entitled, Learning by Doing: "The very essence of a learning community is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student." "A PLC is composed of collaborative teams whose members work interdependently to achieve common goals linked to the purpose of learning for all." "Members of PLCs are action oriented: They move quickly to turn aspirations into action and visions into reality." "Inherent to a PLC is a persistent disquiet with the status quo and a constant search for a better way to achieve goals and accomplish the purpose of the organization." "Members of a PLC realize that all of their efforts must be assessed on the basis of results rather than intentions."
Because of our discussions, I am considering how it can affect my world, specifically at C & G X-ray Lab, but perhaps you might want to consider how it might affect your workplace as well. The key to affecting positive change in the work environment is that it must be collaborative. There must be a "guiding coalition," a team with a "high level of trust and shared objectives that appeal to both head and heart." And shared knowledge must be an inherent way of the way we do our work. It is the building of this team that is essential, and where I would like to put our beginning efforts at our lab. So how do we begin? The DuFours show very clearly the importance of beginning by creating the "four pillars" by which an organization must operate.
These pillars are the mission, vision, values, and goals of any organization, no matter the size. These will be very specific to each individual organization. The mission is the "why?" Why do we exist? The vision is the "what?" What is our current reality and what must we do to accomplish our purpose? The values are the "how?" How must we behave to achieve our vision? And finally, the "goals," as we determine, how do we mark our progress?
I leave you with a final quote, "Professional learning communities set out to restore and increase the passion of [those involved in the work environment] by not only reminding them of the moral purpose of their work, but also creating the conditions that allows them to do the work successfully."
Do you have to call it a PLC...no. The name is of little consequence...the way it works could be of great consequence. So, you might consider picking up some of the DuFours books on PLCs and seeing how it can apply to your workplace. I will let you know how it is working in ours.
DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., & Many, T. (2006). Learning by Doing A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work. Bloomington IN: Solution Tree (formerly National Education Service).