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Professional Learning Communities at Work
By Jill Dobbe 07-Jul-17
International schools worldwide share one objective: to educate their students. As an elementary administrator who has worked in a variety of international and American schools, I can think of no better way of doing this than with Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). International schools are known for bringing together teachers and students from a multitude of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. While this is one of the main reasons that I personally enjoy being part of an international community, it can however lead to large gaps in student learning and teaching pedagogy. The PLC approach sees both teachers and students as learners. Teams of teachers at all levels are trained in learning discussions that use student data and essential questions to make informed decisions with the goal of enabling all students to be successful. By working collaboratively and focusing on student learning, teachers are also given opportunities to grow as professionals. Implementing PLCs into international schools is the main focus of the well-written and informative book Global Perspectives. This book maintains that PLCs are collaborative programs that are student-centered and learner-focused. They operate systematically and school-wide in order to meet the learning needs of all students and help them achieve greater success. The premise of PLCs maintains that all students can be successful when teachers and staff take a collaborative approach and work for positive student results. Written by educators who currently work in overseas schools, Global Perspectives details the process of implementing PLCs in international schools, what can be gained from them, and why they are the best approach for 21st-century education. The book also includes the journeys of two well-known international schools and the steps that they took to implement their own school-wide professional learning communities. As an international educator now working in my seventh school in as many countries, I am a firm believer in the PLC approach to education. In the overseas environment where students and teachers come and go, the need for bridging gaps, focusing on student growth and achievement, and working as a member of a system that puts individual student success first is needed now more than ever so that students can find their way in a competitive world market. Global Perspectives is easy to follow, with its practical and meaningful advice, recommendations, and scenarios for implementing PLCs in international schools. The book acts as a useful guide for preparing schools to overcome obstacles and take on the challenges of becoming learner-focused and high achieving. With an in-depth focus on international schools, teachers, and students, the book addresses the important idea that learning, not teaching, should be the primary focus for all. While teachers work collaboratively to ensure student growth, students must also commit to owning their learning. I recommend this informative book for those wanting to take on the challenge of transforming their school into a great learning environment—one that encompasses the ideas, knowledge, and strategies put forth in Global Perspectives. Jill Dobbe is the Assistant Elementary Principal of the American School of Tegucigalpa. This review was originally posted to Wandering Educators.
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