Challenges with Learning Communities

Recently on twitter, I responded to a fellow tweeter (@ChrisWejr) when he asked if anyone had tried and been successful in creating a “Professional Learning Community” in BC.  (You see, BC has some interesting politics and furthermore, it is my experience that very little can simply be transplanted from one school (system) to another with success.) I responded yes to Chris’ tweeted question, and suggested he google my thesis title if he was interested.  To my surprise he took me up on my suggestion and suggested I had enough to write a book.  I laughingly said, yeah, when I have some spare time.

Developing Learning Communities through a living systems lens has been a focus of mine during the past few years, first as a researcher completing a doctorate degree (see dissertation here if desired http://summit.sfu.ca/item/11268 ), and then as a practitioner working within a public school system in British Columbia, Canada.

A living systems style of learning community in a nutshell is not managed “top down”, but allows and provides for the people within the system to work on what will help the learning for all (students first and adults as well).  It approaches all that is done in the schoolhouse from an inquiry stance that accepts the messiness required of both adult and student learning.

There has been much research done extolling the benefits of “Professional Learning Communities” and yet as recently as 2010 researchers such as Huffman & Hipp have stated that leading educators continue to struggle with creating and maintaining them.

Having had the opportunity to work in a variety of schools and districts, I think this is a universal challenge, and is not necessarily “because of” of any one individual, school, district or system.

However, I began to wonder if this might be a helpful topic to blog about, as not everyone has the time or the inclination to slog through a thesis as Chris did, and a blog is hopefully more responsive than a book, to what people need.

So here is the question, and I would love to hear back from you….Firstly, is this something that is of interest?  and secondly, Are there specific questions/topics you might like to be part of exploring?

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4 Responses to Challenges with Learning Communities

  1. Kyle says:

    My district (Comox Valley) is implementing a district-wide PLC structure next year and I am very interested in how to avoid it being “top-down” and maintaining it’s momentum. I will read yuo thesis, but blog posts are always a good intro…

  2. Chris Wejr says:

    Hey Janet, I think you know my response! 🙂

    What I liked about your thesis was that it was a local study. As you have stated, each context presents its own challenges and your articles shared the successes and challenges that schools in BC faced.

    I think a summary of what worked in BC schools along with what didn’t and why would help others build from these experiences.

    Thanks for helping me out!

    • jmlauman says:

      Hey Chris. Thanks for the suggestion regarding what might be the most helpful information to post. I was curious as to whether or not people would find this (blog) to be a helpful forum for sharing…. Perhaps it will be! 🙂

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