The changing operational environments socially, economically, and politically have forced schools to adjust their internal operations to suit these external influences. Historically, learning institutions have developed various strategies, including changing their structures to maximize their effectiveness and in response to societal and policymakers’ demands. Although many tactics have been proposed, embracing a professional learning community (PLC), is considered the most effective structural element in maximizing school efficiency (Fatma, 2016). The paper compares the professional learning community to traditional school models concerning their effects on learners’ achievement, the role of teachers, and challenges faced when implementing a PLC model.
A learning community can be described as a set-up where learners form an integral part, learn, and take responsibility for the participating members’ learning and well-being. It cherishes the growth of individuals and the class as a whole and the process of achieving such developments as well (Fatma, 2016). Students have engaged actively on matters that are specifically important to them. A PLC model is characterized by reflective dialogue, shared values and norms, practice deprivation, collaboration, emphasis on student learning, and teacher interactions. In comparison, teachers work alone and are given the sole responsibility of creating a learning environment for their students in a traditional school setting. In this model, schools emphasize more on teaching rather than learning as education outcomes are determined through tests.
Regardless of the flaws of traditional school models, they are associated with various advantages. For instance, due to its familiarity and establishment, it makes it easier for teachers to implement its curriculum and coursework (Tularam, 2018). Besides, the traditional approach allows professionals to utilize their discretion and judgement on their work, and this can inspire one to be innovative. Additionally, educators, learners, and the administration understand their local influences, demographics, and socio-economic statistics, and these help them modify educational approaches to best suit them.
However, in a traditional school model, the administration can be out of touch with community realities, and this can be a great obstacle to the students’ needs. For instance, tutors who were raised in middle-class lifestyles can face issues of low socio-economic families. As a result, conflict and misinterpretation can especially arise when the site-based autonomy is not sensitive to the family needs (Tularam, 2018). The notion of differing times, modalities, and environments makes the traditional approach unsuitable in modern times.
The weaknesses of a traditional school model and the need to boost a school’s effectiveness are the reasons for the need for a professional learning community. Research associates a PLC model with increased teacher morale, boosted student achievements, job satisfaction, and maximized teacher effectiveness. Implementing this model in a school is also believed to decrease the loneliness experienced by tutors in traditional schools. It increases the working capacity of participants, which improves the teaching quality and the overall productivity of a school. Teachers also benefit from the experience of shared leadership. PLC model strengthens the commitment of instructors to the school’s goals and mission and student learning. However, the PLC technique is hard to fix, as the instructors have to develop paramount practices for those they serve (Antinluoma et al., 2018). Also, the tutors have to be good communicators to aid collaboration, without which teamwork can be uncomfortable.
As a result, schools face various challenges when trying to shift from old-style teaching methods to PLC models. For instance, resistance to cultural change makes it difficult for a traditional school to embrace a PLC model. Changing a school’s culture is deemed a key step to implementing a learning community model (Schaap et al., 2018). A school’s culture encompasses elements such as norms and beliefs that make up its persona. Community learning calls for the adoption of a collaborative culture where teachers can examine their views about conducting an effective teaching and learning process (Antinluoma et al., 2018). Such requirements are a challenge to principals as they face ingrained cynicism in their attempt to sway from the school’s traditional way of doing things. Inadequate opportunities that facilitate learning activities make the transformation of schools into learning organizations difficult.
Traditionally, instructors in institutions make instructional decisions freely as shared thinking is not encouraged, and this is a challenge to educators when embracing PLC models. Also, the establishment of educational communities faces challenges from policies and mandates such as those set out by the No Child Left behind NCLB in the United States. For instance, under the NCLB, emphasis is put on test preparation as a measure of educational outcomes. Such regulations make it difficult to establish PLC models, which depend on elements such as reflective dialogues and collaborations to improve learning results.
Nevertheless, professional learning community models have notable effects on student achievement and the role of teachers. For instance, the model helps improve scholars learning as it gives institutes a framework to build and strengthen instructors’ capacity to work as members of collaborative, and high-performing teams (Tan, 2019). The instructors frequently refer to learners as “our” scholars instead of “my” scholars, and this reinforces the communal atmosphere. The PLC model has effectively worked in Grey Street Primary School in Australia, in which improvements in critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving skills among students have been reported (Victoria State Government, 2019).
As well, teachers’ roles are significantly affected by the establishment of PLCs. For instance, teachers have a leadership role in ensuring their school’s well-being. Supportive leadership is a requisite human resource for the implementation of a PLC model (Tan, 2019). A learning community provides a platform for teachers to exercise and improve their leadership skills. Through this model, teacher leadership is embedded in an institution such that teacher leaders can run the activities in the school smoothly in the absence of the principal.
In a traditional school model, instructors’ main responsibility is teaching. The introduction of a professional learning community model makes teachers learners rather than instructors. Their focus is shifted from teaching to learning as the model allows them to collectively engage in learning activities (Tan, 2019). Through such programs, they can learn from each other and stay focused to achieve the objectives set for students.
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Tan, C. (2019). Professional learning communities in relation to teachers efficacy and students achievement. International Journal of Advanced Research, 7(3), 996-1003.. Web.
Victoria State Government. (2019). Examples of professional learning communities in Victorian schools. Education.vic.gov.au. Web.