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5 High Performance Habits to Transform Your Professional Learning Communities

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Do you ever worry that you're over-complicating processes that are meant to be simple?


I do. All the time. In fact, even though I'm not typically a worrier--this is one area that I frequently fret about. I worry about inefficiency because I value people's time. I worry that we're overcomplicating simple processes because I respect the power of habit. I worry that I accidentally confuse or befuddle quite simple pieces of information. And this worry is rooted in a place of respect for those in my profession.


And while I hold these worries about process and efficiency in one hand, I also hold and honor the human nature and learning development in the other. While it's nice to have a path to follow, the reality is: we cannot predict every possible obstacle or alteration that we will encounter. If we're honest with ourselves--not knowing everything is a good thing. Without confusion, there would be no curiosity. Without curiosity, there would be no innovation.


We get asked all the time, "What can we do to improve our professional learning communities?" and all the time, in many different ways, we say a version of the same thing:


  1. Start each meeting with a student-centered celebrate.

  2. PLC should be sacred time; meet once/week, 45-60 minutes, in 1 common space, preferably of the student day.

  3. Provide professional learning communities with consistent, weekly feedback.

  4. Leaders need to prioritize learning around PLCs, creating boundaries and eliminating inefficient areas of focus or PD.

  5. Leaders should set aside time for their own PLC or reflection regarding PLC growth and processes.



There are other suggestions we give--like why it's so important for teams to use an agenda each week, or why it's imperative that all curriculum maps/pacing guides are housed in a common location.


But honestly, if you want to see growth in your professional learning communities (PLCs), you have to commit, with integrity, to these common, simple, free actions.


For teams to feel safe, they need consistency and predictability. If we have to worry: What are we talking about this week? Then we'll waste precious problem-solving time figuring out our purpose instead of our commitment to action.


Can we recommend books and articles to read to help you in this journey? You bet. In fact, we wrote Arrows to provide leaders with an independent way to hear the pieces of story--and then go be empowered. Any school can put these steps into action. Not every school can stick to the commitments they make with fidelity.


Can we offer trainings and workshops, coaching and professional development? Courses and handouts, slides, and dashboards? Yep. You betcha (and we do!)





Still, if we're going to be honest--and we always are--the most important actions you can take to grow your professional learning communities are once again, these five habits:


  1. Start each meeting with a student-centered celebrate.

  2. PLC should be sacred time; meet once/week, 45-60 minutes, in 1 common space, outside of the student day.

  3. Provide PLCs with consistent, weekly feedback.

  4. Leaders need to prioritize learning around PLCs, creating boundaries and eliminating inefficient areas of focus or PD.

  5. Leaders should set aside time for their own PLC or reflection regarding PLC growth and processes.


Communities are not built by professional development sessions. Communities are built through consistent, predictable systems that create nourishing environments for change and risk. You stretch your muscles more effectively if you commit to a daily stretching routine. You grow your PLCs by creating (then holding) consistent collaboration routines.


I don't know which of these five actions will seem the most challenging for you. I don't know what might hold you back or make it difficult for you to follow all five. What I do know is that if you commit to these five actions, with fidelity and integrity, the transformation will happen.



We created our free course, Strengthening Our PLCs for you--so that you can hear the why behind the simple actions that just really do make the difference. Download the guide, and simply watch/share the video.


Again, you don't need to spend a lot of money. You don't actually need to hire a coach or attend a big, fancy workshop or summit. Those supports are great--if--and only if--they are in addition to, not in place of, the five habits we've shared in this post.


No amount of book reading, or professional development attending can replace or replicate the power of these practices of habit.


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