Professional Learning Networks
Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) extend learning and planning opportunities that foster a spirit of collaboration and cohesion to enhance the classroom experience for students. The process is designed to shift attitudes of teacher compliance to teacher capacity built with a positive and genuine commitment to the learner. They are also designed to shift schools from typical to exemplary. Exemplary schools have a faculty of educators with a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. PLNs come in a a variety of deliveries. Professional Learning Communities, Collaboration Around Student Learning, Learning Teams through Single School Culture, and Digital Learning Networks are four top models used in education across the nation.
Team learning builds upon personal mastery and shared vision. This involves creating a snapshot of what is important to both individuals and the school community. Although individuals are responsible for their own actions, feelings and opinions, it is the common good of the community that guides decision making. PLNs are an important tool to help promote educator effectiveness. We break down these four models in the tabs below. Each model has an acute interconnectedness with the Digital Learning Network being one that allows for collaboration to reach beyond the walls of a school building.
In their article “When Educators Learn, Students Learn”, Stephanie Hirsch and Joellen Killion discuss eight principles of Professional Learning. The authors’ experiences with improvement efforts, particularly those which failed to be fully implemented, cause them to wonder if other approaches to improvement will increase their potential for success. They conclude that principles–powerful beliefs that underlie actions–are essential to sustained system and school improvement. Over the years, they have identified principles consistent with the most effective improvement efforts associated with professional learning that increases impact on educators and students. As a result, they offer a set of principles for those who want to improve professional learning and increase its effect on educators and adults. They believe that these eight principles will lead to more effective, principle-driven professional learning focused on shared goals of improved leading, teaching, and student learning. Rather than identify practices for professional development, the authors recommend clarifying the principles that underlie one’s work. They identify their eight principles and invite others to clarify their own principles and reach consensus on those that drive decisions in their schools.
Educators who embark on a journey of lifelong learning and a continuum of growth are definitely in a growth mindset. It is with that mindset that educators will successfully transfer knowledge and skills to their students. Students with these teachers will in turn become successful in their learning and they too will most likely emulate their teachers’ lifelong learning journey.
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