Designing a Great Professional Learning Community and Fostering Collegiality

A new group has been formed at my school seeking to define the best practices in terms of fostering a professional learning amongst colleagues on campus.  Our goals are influenced by research by Judith Warren Little (1981), whose definition of collegiality encompasses four specific behaviors:

(I)  Adults talk about best practice frequently

(II)  Adults in schools observe each other teaching in their native setting

(III)  Adults engage together in work on curriculum

(IV)  Adults teach each other best practices

The goal is to better define what it means to be colleagues as professional educators at Culver.  Changes will initially begin with faculty/staff meetings. I think we will begin to move from our current format, which is much more formal (imagine a room filled with faculty and staff where administrators generally provide updates and critical information), to a style which encompasses a greater portion of the school community.  The goal is to empower faculty and staff in a number of ways (which we are still hashing out), some of which are:

– empower faculty and staff by allowing freedom to choose the sessions they wish to attend

– provide avenues for greater dialogue by conducting discussions in small group settings

– create cross-curricular situations where we can teach and learn from one another’s best practices

-investigating the implementation of “Critical Friends Groups” as well as Japanese lesson studies

This is all very much a work in progress, but I am excited about the possibilities that will develop in the coming months.

I would love to hear your comments as well as how your school conducts faculty/staff meetings and/or fosters professional development.

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