Gearing up for a new school year means that many educators are in planning mode. Before school starts, it may seem easier to create intentional time to plan. But what happens when hectic schedules meet a new year full of challenges?
Technology can be a great tool to help with PLC (Professional Learning Community) time. It can start with a simple invitation to meet sent via email or a recurring reminder on your digital calendar. My team utilizes Team Drive in Google Drive for planning and PLC time. We started with a folder named PLC that we drop our schedule into (with reminders of what days/times/locations throughout the fall semester we plan to meet). We also created a space for meeting agendas and duplicate those agendas during the meeting to use as the basis for our minutes. As we discuss an item on the agenda, we quickly add details (oftentimes used as reminders to individuals after the meeting has ended) and create our artifacts from that.
Everyone brings the necessary materials to our PLC time, and as we discuss the work or assignment we are looking to implement in the next week, we can edit in real time with all stakeholders present. We keep the shared materials for our course in the same Team Drive so that nobody is left waiting for copies or an email with the amended documents. I might add that this is a great place to house our six-weeks calendar as well so that as we make necessary changes, we can all see them on the shared Google Doc. In our individual classes, it is easy to simply share a “viewable” link to the calendar so students can see the plan in real time.
PLC time should also result in each team member taking ownership of tasks. We make sure this happens as we assign “to do” tasks at the end of the meeting minutes so we each remember what we have agreed to take care of for the team prior to our next meeting. Minutes also end with “for next time” reminders so every team member can look back over the notes in preparation for the next meeting and bring any materials, ideas, etc. necessary to be productive.
Our campus asks that administrators stay informed on meeting norms, meeting dates/times, artifacts, and other materials. Simply sharing the Team Drive with them makes this one less item to email regularly.
PLC time can only be as productive as you make it. Regardless of the tools you have at your disposal, find a way to streamline the process as you work to keep everyone involved and accountable.