21st Century learning skills and Professional Learning Communities (PLC) are current buzzwords in education. Collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication are the foundations of a 21st century classroom. They are also an integral part of agendas of PLC’s throughout the world. Often when we think about PLCs, we think of a professional partnership with our colleagues within our own school. We see it as a valuable resource to develop and share instructional best practices.
Author, Todd Whitaker states that, “Outstanding educators know that if a school has great teachers, it is a great school.” He goes on to suggest that two sure ways to foster significant school improvement are get better teachers or improve the capacity of the current teachers.
Placing focus on the development of teachers and making an investment in modelling best instructional practice are pathways that lead to overall school improvement.
How can schools implement and model this?
Through the understanding of the importance of modelling the 4Cs not only in the classroom practice but also among educators.
Communication, collaboration, critical Thinking and creativity are skills that are essential to achieving meaningful and effective partnerships. In the past decade, these four skills have taken on even more significance for students and educators due to globalisation and the rise in the use of technology. Expressing thoughts clearly, crisply articulating opinions, communicating coherent instructions, being able to problem solve efficiently, all while being able to motivate others with original ideas, are crucial skills.
These skills have always been of value in any workplace. In the education sector, the 4Cs are essential because they are inherent in the nature of how successful teams and partnerships are effectively formed.
Author Michael Fullan suggests that partnerships should focus on whole-system reform based on learning the best practice of others.
An important way to expand our PLC network is outside of our immediate colleagues and into the wider community. In the GCC, this used to be a difficcult task because there was a lack of sharing and collaboration but this is rapidly changing thanks to the efforts of both private schools and government. It is also important to note that many schools in the past felt that sharing their best practice with other schools might not be the best business practice. Fortunately, times are changing, especially in the UAE, with the implementation of the national agenda and Vision 2021. KHDA, ADEC and the other Educational Zones have now highlighted the importance of creating partnerships with other schools.
There is now a buzz and a real excitement in the Middle East as schools form partnerships, allowing their staff to communicate, collaborate and think critically about how they can offer their students the best possible learning experiences.
By Chassie Selouane