Professional learning community (PLC) is a group of people with interest in education meet more often with an aim of sharing educational expertise and work together to enhance their teaching skills as well as academic achievement of their students (DuFour & Eaker, 2005). The PLC fosters collaborative learning and organizes teachers into working groups (Easton, 2009).
(Roberts & Pruitt, 2008) shares the view that the major attributes of PLC include collective focus on enhancement of student learning, combined efforts in leadership and responsibility to ensure student learning resulting in teamwork, coming up with common practices, emphasis on reflective inquiry and communication among educators, and shared values. It implies that shared values result in the school to be committed collectively to their day-to-day activities. The working teams work together to attain common goals. The reflection enables the examination of the manner in which operations affect the actions taken actions. Lastly, continued improvement according to the outcomes of the evaluations.
The benefits of PLC to learners and educators include reduced isolation of teachers. The teachers come together to share educational ideas enhancing interaction among themselves. the collaborative learning also ensures that there is no isolation of the teachers.
The professional leaning community also creates better informed and committed teachers. It is because the educators are united in their commitment to attain a particular goal. The members work interdependently to attain common goals for which every member is mutually accountable.
It also leads to improved academic achievement for students. The process of PLC puts emphasis on learning. As a result, the learners also acquire the best practices from educators, thus gaining academically.
Another benefit is that the teachers can continually learn from each other. This is made possible through shared visioning, planning, and in-depth assessment of what works and does not work in relation to improvement of student achievement. The PLC process is an ongoing job embedded learning process rather than a one-off professional development session (Easton, 2009).
One of the challenges to PLC is obstacles to implementation. The development of PLCs can be hindered by decisions made by the administration, which makes the educators’ jobs difficult. Also, another obstacle to PLC implementation is subject areas. Particular educational subjects appear to naturally take priority over others. Another barrier to implementation is the school’s physical layout. This may pose a challenge to maneuverability (DuFour & Eaker, 2005).
Another challenge is the lack of teacher buy-in for the PLC process. The decision to implement the professional learning community may be imposed to the educators by the administration.
Next, a culture among teachers where they are in competition rather than collaborate is a hindrance to the PLC process. It is unlikely for such teachers to work together.
Another challenge is a lack of trust between the team members. It jeopardizes teamwork as the team members are unwilling to admit their weaknesses and mistakes (Roberts & Pruitt, 2008).
On the contrary, the traditional school model is the most common model. It is described as a teacher-centered delivery of tutoring to students who are the recipients of information. The traditional school model puts emphasis reading, math, science, and social studies.
The teachers are not only the sources of information, but also authority.
While in PLC the learners are active participants, while in the traditional school model the learners are passive absorbers of information. Another difference is that in traditional school models the community is separate from the school, while in PLC the community is regarded as an extension of the learning environment.
In the traditional model the skills are taught as goals, while in PLC the skills are considered as tools and are related to one’s content.
Both models create avenues for educators to connect with others, reflect critically, and share new ideas. Another similarity between professional learning community model and traditional school model is that they both build a vision for teaching and learning.