Building a Professional Learning Community

The aim of the programme should be to EMPOWER rather than advice or train the staff. The school personnel in all probability has years of professional experience which must be valued. The idea is to UNDERSTAND where the teacher is coming from and addresses the issues as we move along TOGETHER. Until the time we are seen at as outsiders, no plan will work in their domain. Moreover, spoon feeding a plan of action will be a trivial exercise bearing no fruit. The government has a hand down approach that is clearly disconnected with reality. A more personalised plan is the need of the hour, wherein, we are the facilitators.

The whole approach has to be one based on ACTION RESEARCH. Rather than finding solutions to vague problems or lecturing the staff, it is necessary for a culture of cooperative learning and organic growth to be created. The idea is to create a thriving PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITY. No one should be seen as a threat or a judge but a peer and friend. The attitude of “we know better” has to be discarded. The idea should be one understanding the teacher not only from a professional standpoint but a personal one as well. The first step is to establish where the teacher draws his /her identity of a teacher from
  • Own memories of a child
  • Peers
  • Media
  • Recent Educational dialogue
  • School environment.
Once we know where the teacher comes from, the teacher should themselves draw parallels between their private and personal lives. Certain potent questions have to be raised at this juncture. Can you be a good parent or role model if you are not a good teacher? If you do not do justice to your students can you do justice to other commitments? Are they linked or connected? In most cases the answer will be yes- If so how?

The teachers have to sit together and understand their strengths and weaknesses. What issues do the teachers see with the school and vice versa? SELF ASSESSMENT is the key. To feed into their self-assessment process, there could be many activities, letters from students, personal stories, movies, readings, case studies.

Once the self-assessment part is done the teachers should sit together, facilitated by us and address each issue individually. Draw a concrete ACTION PLAN. Not being a hand down plan-of-action but designing, executing and evaluating their plan. The staff needs to own the process as much as we do. Otherwise, no round of workshops will change their attitude.

To create sustaining change, a culture of peer assessment, group meetings, open forums, fun group activities have to be established over other things. The staff needs to feel part of an open community, along with a feeling of oneness.

While all these activities are of prime importance due importance has also to be given to FEEDBACK. EVALUATE OUR programme and help the teachers evaluate their action plan. DEMOCRACY is the key to success in such a case.

Please connect with the author with your comments and feedback if any.
~ Kritika Singh, email
Masters of Arts in Education – Azim Premji University (Bangalore)

Currently working with professor Fareeda Khan on the Dal project, to study why the Hanji community of the Dal lake remains educationally backward. The study is an qualitative study of the community and educational scenario.

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