Saturday, November 30, 2013

Google+ Communities Enriching PLC's...

credit: Flickr @niellkennedy
Our district uses the term "PLC" for common planning times that have official tasks and trainings. It's great that schools have realized the importance of teachers organizing and collaborating their plans together, but dedicating just 1-2 hours of time each week in physical space and time is far from a PLC or a PLN.  A 21st Century teacher should be a CONNECTED teacher.  Connected with a global community with access to pedagogy, content knowledge, tools, and more.

I've set a goal this year to connect our teachers in their "PLCs" with real 21st Century PLNs using Google+ Communities.  Here is the plan...
  1. Sell the curriculum team on the importance of online communities. Online communities provide teams with a unique medium for sharing resources and ideas. Online communities will allow teachers to ask questions with a wider audience and higher quality answers. The communities we will start with are:
    1. New hire teachers in the New Teacher Mentor Program
    2. Teachers in 1:1 classroom environments.
    3. AP Teachers (This is our first year offering AP courses).
  2. Train the leadership teams in each program how to use Google+ communities.
  3. Discuss and practice facilitating engaging online discussions and activities

The thought is that with an online community, teachers will form deeper bonds with their team and hold meaningful conversation that will extend the physical limitations of the current PLC format. Additionally, campus administrators can observe and join in the conversations more easily. They can keep their finger on the pulse of their instructional teams without monopolizing all of the PLC meeting time.

For a district like ours, an online community also gives our teachers and administrators the opportunity to further develop and change the struggling culture of our district. Online communities, can lift the level of professionalism because the community is online and facilitates a more transparent environment.