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3 Strategies for Creating Professional Learning Communities

While a teacher’s professional responsibility is to teach students, teachers are also responsible for their own learning and growth. Because teachers spend much of their time preparing lessons and teaching, they may find it difficult to take time to participate in professional groups or communities. However, teachers should be looking for ways to improve their teaching abilities and methods as they educate their students. Some teachers work on their professional growth alone; some teachers find it helpful to communicate with fellow educators to learn and improve.

To replace or improve those methods of teacher professional development that have proven unproductive and futile, educators can implement several strategies to reinvent professional learning communities like a professional. These strategies encourage teachers to think outside the box and reform the way they evaluate their teaching abilities and the success of their students in a classroom.

Recognize the Good

Teachers work in a stressful atmosphere. Teachers may feel discouraged, upset, or frustrated when they make mistakes, or when their students do not understand certain concepts. These feelings of frustration and discouragement can make it difficult to teach effectively. Focusing on mistakes during professional teacher learning can lead to further failure.

While it is essential to focus on areas of improvement, teachers should not focus primarily on their mistakes. Instead, teachers should emphasize their success in the classroom and the accomplishments of their students. Noticing areas of success will motivate teachers to do better without involving feelings of guilt or discouragement.

“How Might We Reinvent Professional Development for Educators?” written by Susie Wise, says, “notice the space and community in which you are working, use your awareness to empathize deeply, question assumptions, embrace prototyping over debate, and [be] willing...to share both your successes and what you’ve learned from what doesn’t work” (Wise).

Teachers can recognize the benefits of their achievements and acknowledge their mistakes. As they are credited with their classroom successes, they will be able to positively address concerns or errors without feeling discouraged or upset. Teachers can use this in their professional learning communities to promote positive feelings, encourage growth, and construct a helpful community rather than a critical one.

Create a Productive Learning Space

Positivity is not the only necessary factor in creating a professional learning environment for teachers. It is proven that a clean, innovative learning environment encourages student learning and teacher development. Teachers can implement practical, simple ideas in their classrooms that promote student learning and professional growth.

In “A Roadmap for Reinventing Learning,” Stephen J. Wilczynski states that putting “academics first” in the construction and design of a classroom is crucial (Wilczynski). While teachers do not control the structure of the school, they can influence the design and decor on the inside of their classrooms. If available, teachers should select items for the school’s interior that will help students focus and help teachers improve. Some of these items can include:

  • Educational or informative posters
  • Inspirational or motivational quotes
  • Informational diagrams
  • Educational pictures or artwork
  • Kind messages or letters written by the students
  • A class theme or motto
Other factors that help students learn are open spaces, sunlight, and fresh air. If possible, teachers can open windows or conduct occasional lessons outside.

Communities of teachers can encourage widespread use of informative posters, quotes, or mottos that will encourage a sense of pride and unity among students and educators. As teachers create an environment that motivates and helps students focus, teachers will benefit from the calm, academic surroundings.

Connect with Other Teachers

Even if instructors teach by themselves, they can benefit from connecting and sharing with other educators. As teachers contact, connect with, and learn from each other, they will find new ways to grow professionally.

Teachers can learn from each other in many ways. Teachers that work together at the same school can regularly meet and have discussions on various topics. These topics may include effective teaching methodologies, students’ academic progress, assessment strategies or results, and classroom management techniques.

Teachers from several schools could gather and discuss issues that affect their region and decide how to improve their teaching abilities.

Regularly meeting other instructors face-to-face is an easy way to encourage growth for all persons involved. Teachers will be able to give each other feedback based on experience and will help each other find solutions to problems through proven methods.

Using the internet is an ideal way to get passionate about career development and can be accessed at any time in any place. Professional development communities can create a shared forum or online network to quicken communications and conveniently share information on educational progression.

If possible, teachers should also consider contacting teacher support groups online. Social media platforms such as EdGuru, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit have chats, groups, and online communities designed to help teachers communicate and learn from one another. These groups are proven to be helpful in quickly connecting teachers with other educators in an organized way. Brittany Murro of ASCD IN SERVICE states that “[discovering an] incredible network of innovative, forward-thinking educators was...refreshing,” and that she was excited to learn and professionally develop with the help of her online support group (Murro).

In summation, teachers can reinvent their professional learning, especially in groups or communities. They can accomplish this through helpful strategies such as focusing on their successes, creating an organized learning atmosphere, and communicating with other teachers. These techniques are proven to be quick and effective and help students and teachers achieve their best.


Wise, Susie. Stanford, “How Might We Reinvent Professional Development for Educators?” https://dschool.stanford.edu/news-events/how-might-we-reimagine-teacher-professional-development, February 1, 2017.
Wilczynski, Stephen J. Spaces for Learning, “A Roadmap for Reinventing Learning,” 

Murro, Brittany. ASCD IN Service, “Refresh, Recharge, and Reinvent,” 
https://inservice.ascd.org/refresh-recharge-and-reinvent/, June 9, 2017.

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