In the modern world of education, progress and continuous professional development (CPD) are key. With everchanging methodologies, advancement in technology and shifting ideas, the best schools are those that change with the times. Traditionally, schools will resort to bringing in outside educational companies and CPD providers to upskill their teachers. However, Wellington has also recognised the value of another very well-studied and established concept known as professional learning communities, or PLCs.
In essence, PLCs look to the talent and professionalism already within a school. Every teacher in this shanghai international school brings their own experience and special talents to the educational workplace. PLCs empower these teachers, encouraging them to bring about change within the school, innovating and researching within their areas of expertise. Working as part of a team, these teachers can share their findings with the ultimate goal of improving educational outcomes for the children who attend this Shanghai international school. Having originally completed research on PLCs as part of my Master of Education degree in Ireland, it quickly became apparent that PLCs were a tool that could bring about meaningful change. Teachers within a school already have in-depth knowledge of the resources available. More importantly, they are already well acquainted with the pupils. As a result, the ideas and research they conduct is often much more effective and targeted than traditional CPD provided by outside companies.
Of course, successful PLCs must be underpinned by one key ingredient: great teachers. At Wellington College International Shanghai, we are fortunate to have some of the best in China. Our teachers are driven, motivated and, most importantly, adaptable. Wellington is an environment in which teachers are encouraged to try new things and this trust comes from the knowledge that everything is done with the utmost consideration for the students. How can we make our school the best? How can we make our students happy and successful? How can we truly be… Wellington?! As a result, this PLC culture is well and truly thriving within the school with teaching and learning being the central focus of research at present. In this Shanghai international school, teachers have been developing our curriculum from the ground up with great oversight by our school's middle and senior leadership.
Having witnessed this culture first-hand, I can confidently say that it has created an exciting work environment in which the children are benefitting from the most innovative and positive teaching strategies. For instance, we have developed humanities lessons with greater depth and breadth for our year 4 pupils. Morerover, we are innovating how we assess our pupil's level of knowledge by integrating AFL (assessment for learning) with technology. In this way, teachers are taking the well-cited ideas of educational academics such as Barak Rosenshine and adapting his ideas to a modern classroom. Knowledge that leadership has confidence in its teachers encourages us to move forward and take ownership of our classrooms.
In summary, PLCs are not a training course or something which can be bought or simply delivered. It is a culture which takes time to flourish. It is an idea which requires quality educators and a school to match. Fortunately, PLCs are centre-stage at Wellington College International Shanghai, and it is truly exciting to see where they will take us.