As I mentioned previously, I was invited to a convening surrounding Creating Transformational Professional Learning Communities put together by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation back in September.
In hosting this convening, KnowledgeWorks Foundation hoped to:
- Learn more about strategies for developing professional learning communities
- Begin developing a vision for professional learning communities of the future and how they can help expand current thinking around school reform
- Examine what stakeholders, including philanthropy, can do to move toward such a future.
I haven’t really blogged about this for a few reasons. First, I’m still trying to get my head around what we talked about those two days. These were some very bright and thoughtful folks and I struggled to make a meaningful contribution to our discussions.
Second, it was also an interesting role-reversal for me. In my staff development, I’m the guy who’s always talking about what’s possible, and pushing folks to make changes, and getting frustrated at the obstacles and saying we should push through them no matter what. Meanwhile, the folks who actually have to try to do these things in the classroom are occasionally telling me I’m nuts, or to be patient, or asking exactly how they should push through a particular obstacle that I think they should push through. (In case you can’t tell from reading this blog, I’m sometimes just a little bit radical and/or unrealistic.) Well, in this convening, I played the role of the realist (as I see it, of course) to everyone else’s Don Quixote. I kept pushing back, primarily around the issue of time – suggesting that everything these folks were talking about was great, but that they were ignoring the very big issue of when were teachers actually going to have time to participate in these transformational professional learning communities. As one of only two current K-12 folks in the room, I sometimes felt like they were ignoring that one very big elephant in the room. So, it was interesting – and probably really good for me – to be the somewhat negative, “yeah, but” guy for a couple of days.
Finally, I didn’t want to blog about this until the white paper that Knowledgeworks Foundation was putting together from the convening was published. Well, they’ve now published the white paper (pdf). If you’re interested in PLC’s, you might want to take a look. Despite my “yeah, buts,” I think all of the folks in the room would be excellent resources to tap if you’d like to know more about transformational PLC’s.
I appreciated the opportunity to participate and, in fact, just returned from a second convening that KnowledgeWorks Foundation hosted surrounding Modernizing Teaching Tools. (I think they wanted to give me a chance to redeem myself.) I’ll wait until that white paper comes out to blog about that experience, but I felt like I had much more to contribute to this one.