Here at Rectory School, students are not the only ones learning from our teachers. Thanks to the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) program, our teachers also learn from one another.
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Each term throughout the school year, teachers participate in PLC groups in which their fellow faculty members guide them through growth in particular topic areas.
Some PLC group topics include “Technology Tips and Tricks,” “Building Engagement and Empowering Students To Be Effective Leaders,” “DEIJ at Rectory,” “Using Artificial Intelligence To Enhance Lessons and Plans,” “Belay Training,” and “How To Create and Cultivate Relationships with Students on your Dorm and at your Dining Hall Table.”
“The aim of the PLC program is to provide an opportunity for our faculty to work collaboratively to positively impact academics, athletics, or residential life practices,” said Director of Academics Lisa Hart.
While Rectory has long encouraged faculty and staff to engage in professional development, PLC is unique in that it leverages the power of our community, allowing teachers to share with one another their knowledge of and passion for teaching and learning. Rather than going it alone, groups of teachers embark together on a learning journey, encouraging one another through the process of development.
As Mrs. Hart explained, “a professional learning community is an opportunity for faculty to work together, focus on a particular topic, go practice these strategies, and then bring those experiences back to the group to share and discuss. It is a time for teachers to learn, explore, and implement, and then come back together to reflect.”
While a version of the PLC program has existed at Rectory for several years, there has never before been so many topics of interest to pursue, nor has there been the chance to delve so deeply into that topic throughout the course of an entire term.
Also this year, time has been made available for PLC sessions during the academic day, whereas previously, they took place strictly before school. In order to make it possible for the teachers to meet in their PLC groups during the school day, it was necessary to provide students with something meaningful to do during those blocks of time.
“We wanted to pair the PLC program with something that has been a growing need,” Mrs. Hart explained. “So we started the Student Development and Leadership (SDL) program at Rectory,” which involves the entire Middle School. This program challenges our students to think critically and collaboratively and develops confidence and a positive mindset.
The SDL sessions occur alongside the PLC sessions, several times each term, allowing teachers to meet at those times with their PLC groups. While the teachers gather, Dean of Students Evan Campbell and a team of faculty facilitators guide the Middle School students through activities focused on self-discovery and leadership.
Most of the PLC topics are proposed by the facilitators themselves. Though Mrs. Hart sometimes offers guidance to help bring proposals in line with the school’s strategic initiatives, the topics are primarily based upon facilitator interest and passion or any training they may be pursuing outside of school. “Then they bring that knowledge back onto campus,” she said.
Their fellow teachers can select their top choice from among the available groups, and with each new term, teachers can switch to a new one.
According to Mrs. Hart, the newly revamped program has been very well received.
“Teachers like to be able to attend these different sessions and hear from their peers,” she said. “We have a very knowledgeable group of faculty. We have teachers who continue to develop their own understanding, either in coursework towards a master's degree or additional certifications or just in continued professional development. And it’s terrific to provide this opportunity for them to share their knowledge.”
The PLC program is in keeping with the School’s culture of lifelong learning.
“We have a professional growth and evaluation model at Rectory, and we are always looking for our faculty to continue to develop,” said Mrs. Hart.
And it’s especially exciting when such growth can be inspired and supported by your fellow teachers.
“When someone's excited and can share that passion and interest, when they can open up a door for another teacher to something that they may have been curious about, how wonderful is that?”
Mrs. Hart said she hopes to see the program continue to support the vibrant learning community. “I hope our teachers will continue to have opportunities to collaborate with each other, to grow their learning, to continue to be inspired, and to be creative in what they bring to their own classroom. And I know this will, in turn, continue to grow our students’ learning and engagement.”
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