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From the Archives – PLC vs. PLN

I originally wrote this last year when I was trying to make the PLC concept more palatable to staff members. After doing some research, I feel it may be time to adjust my own thinking on the PLC process. Enjoy the read! 

This past weekend, I participated in a Twitter chat called #satchat. In my opinion, it is one of the best run edchats out there right now. Though it takes place at 7:30 in the morning, I try my hardest to participate each week, as I am always learning something new from the amazing people who also participate. It’s a HUGE component of my PLN. The topic was centered around the concept of ensuring students are learning in an environment that will help them to succeed in a world that is growing smaller by the day thanks to advances in technology. During the chat, educational best practices were discussed, including the use of the PLC (Professional Learning Community) framework to drive instruction. One of the chat participants brought up a very interesting question – is there a difference between an PLC and a PLN (Personal Learning Network)?

I’ve spent the past couple of days seeing what other people say about this. 

Lorraine Boulos shares the following in her blog, Making Shift HappenI
t seems to me the “PLC” has become synonymous with Professional Development and often, it is the principal, consultant, coach, or whomever the “Instructional Leader” is in the building, that decides what everyone needs to learn about.  How and why does this happen?  These instructional leaders are not just being arbitrary. They are looking at student results, looking at the gaps, and then they are using professional resources to determine what is the best strategy to meet the needs to close those gaps.

Furthermore, Russell Munkler put together a great slide presentation to help explain the difference between the two:

From what I can best gather, a PLC is goal and data driven – within the field of education, that goal is usually student academic success. A PLC is basically designed to function for the good of the group. A PLN, however, is designed by the individual, and its purpose doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned to that of your school or organization. A PLN is broad, and it doesn’t share the constraints of time or location usually placed upon a PLC. In addition, the “P” in the PLN appears to be interchangeable. While in most cases, the “P” stands for “personal”, I’ve also seen it stand for “professional”. 

If you read back to my other posts, you’ll find I am a BIG fan of the PLC framework. I’ve witnessed AMAZING things happen as the result of educators buying into and working as a PLC. That being said, I am beginning to wonder if we shouldn’t shift our thinking. Is the PLC too constraining? Can you still have a common goal working through a PLN? If we are asking our teachers to prepare students to be successful in a global society, I think it is something worth looking into! 


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No Excuses

It’s been over a year since I’ve last written a blog post.

I have four drafts since last August, but I haven’t completed them. I did get around to developing titles for them, though.

  • Seven Months in an  Affluent School – Lessons Learned
  • My Fourth Middle School in Three Years
  • The Importance of Building Relationships
  • Lessons Learned

In addition, I keep making excuses for why I haven’t written any posts. The vast majority of them all come down to time. This past year, I devoted a large amount of time to working in my building; including working 12+ hour days, and spending countless weekends with school-related stuff spread out all over my dining room table. I know many educators would respond with, “That’s just how it is, especially when working with high risk populations of students.”

It really shouldn’t be that way, though. I’ve worked with high risk populations the majority of my career and managed to find a reasonable work/family balance. In addition, I always had a small amount of time to think outside the box to develop solutions to pressing problems. I’ve also made time to keep up to date with trends in education through the Marshall Memo, EdWeek, ASCD, MindShift and of course my absolute favorite PLN, Twitter!

Once again, I didn’t do any of that this year, though; and I suffered for it. I feel I worked very hard this past year, but not nearly as smart as I should have.

That’s why this post is entitled “No Excuses”. I don’t have a valid excuse for not posting this past year..or not doing any of the things which energize me on a professional level. Yes, I had a challenging year, and yes, I didn’t use my time as wisely as I should have. Just as I have done in past years, I am making my “New Year Resolution”  at the beginning of a new school year.

Don’t let school get in the way of my education. 

Sound familiar? Mark Twain said something similar. Of course, he meant for us not to let going to school get in the way of learning about the world around us.  My biggest strength is to look at a problem and take creative measures to develop and implement a solution. I’m taking Mr. Twain’s thought a little more literally. If I let myself get bogged down with the everyday issues I have to tackle in my building, I will not be good to anyone. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to center yourself again. Do something that gets your creative juices flowing. Need an idea on what to do? Here’s a REALLY COOL INFOGRAPHIC with 40 of them. 

I’m approaching this school year with a really different mindset than last year, and I know I will be better for my students and staff because of it.  I challenge you to do the same!