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The Secret to PLC Success: Group Dynamics

Why do so many professional learning communities experience frustration and ultimately the inability to change both teacher practice and student outcomes? The answer is surprisingly simple: People. Are. Messy.

Yep. I said it. We are difficult, complicated, intimidating, intimidated, defensive, vulnerable, over-bearing, fearful, sensitive, people. And we are also loving, supportive, empathetic, courageous, creative, dynamic, collaborative, encouraging, as well. On our good days, at least.

In a related post, Shame Triggers in a PLC, I connect the research of Dr. Brene Brown to the dynamics we often experience in teams. Teaching is an incredibly vulnerable and public profession, and many of us have prioritized perfection over process--because we were trained to do so in classrooms as children. When we prioritize perfection over process, anything less than absolutely perfect can create shame reactions in ourselves or our peers.

So why do we find it so hard to collaborate when what we most dearly want and seek out is MORE TIME to learn from one another? Why is it so difficult to thrive in these weekly groups?

Group Dynamics. Thank you Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman for supplying us all with this simple, effective tool for better understanding why we drive each other crazy in group projects and teams.

When I served as a learning specialist for CIESC (Central Indiana Educational Services Center) I created this short video to explore the group dynamics exercise described by the authors. I often build this activity (or something similar) into initial trainings with teams, and I encourage building leaders to do the same.

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