Monday, March 4, 2013

The Pain and Process of a TLCP

Last week, my colleagues and I had a half-day in-school session to work on our Teaching Learning Critical Pathway. Unlike many schools that I've heard about, our school staff actually like our Professional Learning Community times, probably because it was not forced upon us but a conscious choice we made - I credit this positive attitude toward PLCs to our former principal, who took the time to develop a school culture that was eager and responsive to what a true PLC had to offer. You can read about how our PLCs developed in this article, co-written by four teachers from my school.

“A Professional Learning Community Journey” (with Stephen Tong, Mary Jane Huh, Jenny Chiu) Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research Volume 3 Number 1. 2008

Our current pathway is about oral communication and writing. Our current principal tinkered with the TLCP template so that it was more useful. The administration team (which I am on) discussed how to make the process simpler and we offered an inquiry question in advance. Despite - well, actually because of some of these changes - there were a lot of struggles. The teachers weren't keen on the inquiry question. The principal wasn't thrilled with the writing form that the teachers selected as their focus. At one point, I wondered if it was possible to get anything accomplished. We talked, and talked. We suggested things, dismissed things, and clarified things. By the end of the day, to my surprise, we had actually ironed out the plan. If my technology works, I'll post the completed template as a picture file below:

As I told my fellow chairperson afterwards, I need to remember that collaboration/inquiry can be messy and painful. I should not have been alarmed by the process as I was - Carrol Kuhlthau, a school library guru, wrote in her books (such as Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century) about the feelings and thoughts during the Information Search Process and these emotions aren't all positive. There is a lot of apprehension and uncertainty (as described in the Wikipedia summary of the Information Search Process). My husband jokes that I'm a "Russian" - always rushin' to complete things. He's partially correct. I need to remind myself that these things take time and anxiety is just part of the process. Is the TLCP we created a work of art? No, but it's a great start.

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