Professional Learning Communities: Start with Why?

Monday 4th March 2019

This article is the second in the Re: Teaching & Learning series of articles that explains the staff professional development programme and how this programme is having an impact on the development of the boys at the College.

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We have established our professional learning communities (PLC) for this year.  It was an interesting collaborative experience.  The teaching staff were active participants in sharing their ideas of how we can enhance the teaching and learning  environment at the College.  Three rounds of idea brainstorming and refinement led us to the following PLC groups:

  • Effective Teaching Pedagogy and Andragogy

  • Innovation and Creativity Projects

  • Digital Teaching and Learning Environments

  • Curriculum Design

  • Holistic Character and Wellbeing

  • Establishing and Maintaining a Learning Culture

These PLC groups enable teachers to get alongside other teachers who share a common interest.  Each team of colleagues will work together on selected aspects of teaching, such as analysing instructional practices, planning collaborative lessons, expanding or refining skills, giving and receiving coaching, conducting professional readings and conversations, and implementing new teaching and learning strategies.  Over the course of the year, members of these groups will present their findings to the wider staff.

The most essential part at the forming stage of these groups and topics of interest is establishing “Why.”  Why are the above topics important?  Why individual members are interested in their particular group?  By starting with “Why”, we get to the purpose - the heart of the matter.  We believe in further developing and enhancing the teaching and learning environment which has a direct correlation to developing the students that we teach.  Simon Sinek explains the importance of ‘Starting with Why’ via the diagram below called the Golden Circle (

Each of the PLC groups will establish the Why, the How and the What over the next few weeks in their PLCs.  We will eventually see how each group’s ideals, goals, and research scope complements the overall professional development of staff and the teaching and learning environment at John McGlashan College.

We are looking forward to seeing the positive outcomes from the added re:focus on teaching and learning.