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How PLC Looks Different for Singletons, Related Arts, and Special Education

There's no secret I am an obvious proponent of systems, alignment, organization, and all things "process" (my self-appointed title is that of District Alignment Coach for cryin' out loud!) There is no shortage of research regarding the neuroscience of what creates safety for teams, and rising to the top of the list are topics such as clarity, predictability, and certainty.

As humans we are wired to seek predictable patterns, and we do not like it one bit when our predictable patterns change.

When leading, aligning, or creating systems, there will always be the need to create common practices, expectations, protocols, and procedures. There will also be (insert big, deep breath here) the need for flexibility, differentiation, creativity, and, questions.

While we know Collective Teacher Efficacy and Teacher Estimates of Student Achievement are the top two most impactful influences on student learning, we also need to be ready to embrace the needs of unique professional learning communities, such as K-12 music, special education, CTE, and if you're in a smaller school, the department PLC made up of 1 teacher, per subject, per grade level, or Singletons.

What works for most will not work for all, and I mean, isn't that also one of the main points of the PLC process anyway? To use data to drive our instruction? How would that be different for adult learning and adult instruction?

Versions of Richard and Rebecca DuFour's four main questions are the anchor that create the predictable flow of a student-centered, data-rich PLC meeting. And though some PLCs are made up of individuals who all teach a different course or content, common conversations, sharing, and strategizing can occur under the umbrellas of these questions.

It's important that the heart of a PLC is a conversation. You are together in a team so that you can learn from one another, share your celebrations and success, and work together to problem-solve common issues you face.

While answering the questions (and recording your conversations in notes) is incredibly helpful (and again, agendas provide predictability and structure that does make us feel safe) the point of a PLC is not to take notes and go through the motions around the questions.

The entire point of the PLC is to create community discussion that helps you meet students' needs. Because you have different students in your different subjects, grades, and content areas, you need to embrace the diversity of experiences you can share in your conversations and make the process work for you. It does not mean you should totally throw the process of the conversation out the window, but you should be empowered to determine what answers look like through the specific lens of your unique teams.

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