How should I approach the staff this school year with the implementation of the PLC's this school year. We have a very experience staff and they are set in their ways of teaching and are not easily swayed. So how do we do it without forcing them to make a choice rather to left the profession or go with the follow.
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I would agree with some of the previous posts and go ahead and discuss it with with some of the more open-minded teachers. From experience, I know that there are many teachers who are very set in their ways and incredibly reluctant to change. It is important to let the entire teaching staff have their own role to play in the process. Let them each take a piece and run with it-this will allow them to take some ownership. Getting people on board isn't always an easy task but going about it the right way can at least make it easier.
Wow, there are lots of strong emotions about this issue. Let me give you my perspective as a teacher. I finished my undergrad degree as a nontraditional student, so while I am nearly middle aged, I have only been teaching for 7 years. I am one of those "newer" and more "receptive" or willing teachers. Presenting the PLC ideas to teachers like me and hoping the teachers with more years will listen to us is not realistic. It usually creates stress and contempt.
Having strong academic and student oriented reasons on why the changes the PLC is attempting to make are necessary is a good place to start. Believe in it as an administrator and honestly see yourself as PART of a team. Then present the issues as a means of making teachers (those with lots of experience and those with less experience) better--not as a means of fixing something that is wrong. This way teachers will be more inclined to have a positive frame of mind.
I like the idea of giving teachers a little autonomy with regard to the changes. Maybe every teacher could choose an element that s/he wanted to become an expert on, implement these ideas in the classroom, and then come to future meetings with some data and/or observations of what worked, why, and what could be done better.
Good luck, and whatever decisions you make be certain to have what is best for your students the driving force behind your choices.
The problem with professional development is it is a bandaid to a larger set of problems. Professional development is a program allowing midlevel managers to justify their jobs. In other industries, professionals are hired to do a job and are told to go do it. If they don't, they are terminated. Someone else asked the question, if the staff is experienced, are they also effective? Just like in the classroom, don't dumbdown the effective teachers by forcing them to go to professional development when they are already doing a good job. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting around listening to teachers less qualified than me, or administrators who have never taught, telling me to institute some unproven new learning modality in my classroom. Better yet, if you want teachers to develop as professionals - pay them to do so! Allow them to attend conferences and pay for it; pay for them to take cutting edge university classes; or spend days in industry related to their course goals. When will educational managers stop treating teachers like kids- stop with accountability, attendance policies, and cookie-cutter approaches to everyone. Start with realizing they are professionals...
Wow! Leave the profession or go with the flow? Does that mean Do what you're told or get out? If so, then I am beginning to understand your problem since nobody responds well to out-of-the-gate ultimatums.They are confrontational by nature and combative in tone. There has to be a less abrasive and more effective way to implement change among the faculty!
You mention the staff is very experienced. So, are they any good? Are they getting results? Will you be instituting major changes or seeking to upgrade basically sound teaching methods and materials? Whatever the case, people respond better in any situation when they have input--change from the bottom up instead of from the top down. The previous post mentioned opportunities for choice and personalization. Very, very important because they promote ownership. You might consider choosing several faculty members who are open to new approaches, give them the objectives to be met, and allow them to provide educational leadership among their peers, fostering change from within.
Some experienced teachers become "set in their ways" because that's what they know how to do and feel overwhelmed and insecure by the idea of doing anything differently. Those fears need to be addressed and alleviated, even though they are seldom admitted openly.
One final thought. Will your faculty be provided any resources/materials they will need to make the changes you want to implement? If so, that's a positive factor to emphasize.
The best place to start is with teachers who are willing to try and receptive to change. Let them then talk to the reluctant staff with regard to their successes in the classroom. Obviously the goal is to create better learning opportunities for our students, and if reluctant teachers can be made to understand that better learning environments will make their jobs easier in the long run, then several of them might hop on board. They then can pass on the word to the most reluctant.
It sounds from your post that you are probably a department chair, perhaps an administrator?
As a former dept. chair AND a former principal, I have faced exactly the dilemma you describe. From my experience, what works best is to frame some parameters for the group, and then within those parameters allow some choice and personalization. The single most important factors are an accountability document + administrator follow-up to ensure that the teachers are actually implementing and using what they learn. The accountability document is prepared and submitted by the small groups at the end of each PLC meeting session. Administrator follow-up is essential so that teachers know that their leadership is actually reading the documents and therefore valuing the work.
1. Have teachers bring three examples of recent student work to the meetings. Keep it as simple as possible, don't even tell people to bring one high, medium, and low paper. Just any three papers. At the meeting, ask people if they want to share, and see what suggestions come out of it.
2. Have visitor days once a month where if teachers put a welcome sign on their door, it means they're welcoming their colleagues to come pop in and take a look at the lessons.
There are numerous valid reasons why someone wouldn't put a welcome sign out, such as students are silently writing an essay exam all period, so no one feels that they'll be judged for not having the sign up.
Encourage good visitor manners by putting a couple of "I liked seeing ___ in your classroom" forms that people can give their hosts.
3. Kudos in the staff bulletin for specific contributions to the PLC that people have made.
"Thanks, Jane Smith and Dave Jones, for bringing your latest rubrics to the PLC meeting. It helped us have a concrete discussion about assessments."
The best thing to do is to show the participants in the PLCs what is in it for them. If they come to this planning team knowing that they will benefit from the planning as a team effort, it is an easy sell. No one wants the burden to be placed on one person.
Here's what happened at our school:
We are on our third year of becoming a PLC school. It's a long (worthwhile) process. Our principal introduced the idea, first. She also asked for input, comments, and concerns. We have had 1-2 trainings on PLCs each year and MOST IMPORTANTLY follow-up. Our principal also provided a book on PLCs for each staff member (you can find them online).
Some staff members were very reluctant and resistant to adopting a PLC culture--and it is a whole different frame of mind. "Yet another fad to add to our over-flowing plate!" These teachers just needed time and support to mull over the new information and procedures and a sincere assurance this wasn't another fad. These teachers especially needed to feel their voices and input were valued.
In my opinion, to implement a culture of PLC at any school, you need these components at the very least:
- Training with follow-up and support
- Materials and resources
- Open forum meetings with pre-agreed upon norms of conduct
- TRUST among all participants
I am very happy with the way our school is progressing. We have more trust and appreciation for each other, less negativism, and truly feel like a community. A helpful website to check out is http://www.allthingsplc.info/ .
Good luck and don't give up :)
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