What Does PLC Stand For In Education? Tips For Effective PLCs

Meta: What does PLC stand for in education? How to build a PLC? The following article will reveal all the basics of this educational aspect.


If you have an interest in the educational field, you must have once heard about PLC. But what is a PLC? What does PLC stand for in education? Which factors make a PLC effective or ineffective? 

Keep reading this article to learn more about a PCL and its current practices to see how you can improve the situation. 

What Does PLC Stand For In Education?

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In education, PLC stands for Professional Learning Community. This is a common approach for educators to make further school improvements. A group of major teachers will work collaboratively to improve their student outcomes to have a successful PLC.

The simple idea of a PCL is to encourage students to learn more with the collaboration of their teachers. All the work will likely follow a recurring cycle of action research and collective inquiry.

Back in the earlier day, the Professional Learning Community term was first coined over 70 years ago. Yet, its explicit research has only developed since the late 80s and early 90s. At this time, the term was defined as a group of educators who meet regularly and share expertise. They also work together to improve teaching skills and students’ overall academic performance.

A PLC is also involved in a group of stakeholders with the shared goal of student achievement. They can be a school leadership team or support staff.

Interestingly, cafeteria workers, security personnel, or building custodians can also become a PLC. Their target is to check their work’s impacts on the school’s culture, climate, and student performance.

While a PLC’s activities vary a lot from school to school, here are some common ones occurring in a meeting:

  • Discussing the teacher’s work. All participants will collectively review all class assessments and lesson plans. Then, critical inter-feedback and possible recommendations for further improvement will be offered.
  • Discussing the students’ work. Educators check and analyze the student’s work in a class. The thorough discussion allows them to give recommendations for modifying the teaching approaches. This way can improve the student’s work.
  • Discussing the student’s data. Participants identify a trend by analyzing the data related to student performance. Sometimes, they witness an underperforming or consistently failing trend.  Proactive teaching and support strategies will be discussed. 
  • Discussing professional literature. A text will be selected for reading and used for a structured conversation. Participants can choose an article about an instructional technique or a research study. This way, they can improve their teaching method.

Importance And Benefits Of PLC In Education

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It is hard to ignore the importance of a PLC in improving students’ results. A professional learning community is an ideal tool that helps promote and foster positive professional practices and interactions among educators.

During each gathering, teachers can feel a sense of fulfillment in many facets. Leadership, responsibility, and ownership over their school’s improvement process are a few to name.

They also become more confident and better prepared for their student’s learning needs. Thanks to these attitudes, they are more willing to engage in self-reflection. In the next lessons, they make further professional improvement and growth.

PLCs are an ideal method to nurture the school culture. After meetings, all educators get a panoramic view of their working environment. Their professional relationships with colleagues become stronger with mutual trust, thanks to productive communication.

Different academic programs will be well exchanged among teachers, facilitating classroom instructional innovation. Evidence-based approaches are devised to design lessons and deliver instructions.

The benefits of a PLC should not be limited to student achievement and academic improvement. A well-structured PLC contributes greatly to building and maintaining a thriving culture for the school. 

The module monitors the campus’s pulse and the profound impacts of ever-changing educational landscapes.

Back in 2020, when the pandemic broke out, the educational system experienced an unprecedented change in its operation. Teachers and students needed to interact and work together in unconventional methods like distance or online learning.

New skills and approaches required great examination and assessment in such cases. That’s where a professional learning community comes in great handy.

Various established PLCs collaborated to meet educators’ and students’ social and academic demands. These modules should be further enhanced to support useful teaching tips, strategies, and all resources. The need is greater in the relentlessly changing world.

There are no one-size-fits-all modules for professional learning communities. Their established goals and purposes often determine these meetings’ membership, type, and frequency.

Monthly meetings will focus on monitoring all participants. They are the department, administrator, grade level chairs, community liaison, and PTA representative.

Overall, a PLC is used to review the learning and teaching data and offer collaborative plans. It also ensures interpersonal support among colleagues and allows them to reflect on all teaching practices.

These benefits ensure professional growth in most schools following a PLC.

What Makes An Effective PLC?

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An effective PLC tends to manifest ten following principles:

  • Student learning focus. An unwavering focus on improving the student learning process is indispensable.
  • Collective responsibility. All adults must be responsible for their children’s knowledge acquisition.
  • Instructional leadership. All school leaders should take action toward the same teaching and learning goals.
  • Collective efficacy. Teachers try to reach students’ effective teaching and learning methods.
  • Adult learning. By cooperating with others, participants can use others’ teaching strategies. They can also learn useful tips from more professional and experienced teachers.
  • Privileged time. All time and forums for meetings and conversations will be available and scheduled to discuss students’ learning.
  • Continuous improvement. Recurring cycles of examining and analyzing students’ learning needs will allow the teams to improve continuously. They will plan, implement, and evaluate all teaching responses from learners.
  • Evidence-driven. An effective professional practice should be data-driven and evidence-based.
  • System focus. Without a doubt, effective and dedicated school leaders will contribute to your school’s success.
  • Integrated regional support. The school’s systems are relentlessly supported by experts. Those people know well about their working communities.

To accomplish ten prime principles, participants should take four following aspects into account:

Leadership Commitment

A school’s well-established culture of collaborative professionalism should take the root. In this environment, leaders must commit to the ten principles mentioned above. The principals should include a school improvement priority.

An effective school and a professional team structure must be established to ensure smooth operation. Teachers should have allocated time to collaborate and work in this team. 

A good PLC often has instructional leaders controlling the overall professional learning team.

Instructional Leadership

All instructional leaders are learning specialists in the classroom. Those people and teachers will work directly to improve all classroom practices. Their duties include boosting a shared team vision and commitment while enabling teachers to use collaborative school practices. 

They also collect various data sources for later analysis and assessment during the curriculum. Instructional leaders drive a culture of quality relationships and mutual trust.

Those leaders establish the relationships between teachers and students, so they can support a recurring improving cycle.

Innovation Evaluation

A PLC analyzes data about a PLC implementation’s impact on student perceptions and teacher practices. This way, all the team can keep track of the progress and identify the improvement areas. 

Best Practice Networks

Most PLC leaders establish a strong relationship with other schools geographically. This practice helps solve the same problems and share their effective practices. 

Over time, such middle leaders’ networks boost common school improvement priorities. 

PLC Strategies For Learners And Students 

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A PLC is ideal for students to get formative assessment tools and learning strategies. Various aspects of learning can be evaluated, including comprehension, competence, reading, and expression.

Thus, students should exploit this system. They can test different learning methods and give feedback to teachers. This way, they are more willing to interact in class and participate in the lessons. 

One of the important strategies for students is self-reflection. Not all teachers or school systems succeed in encouraging their learners to raise their voices. 

A PLC allows students to assess their learning process and make any complaints about it to their head teachers. PLC models enable them to test new educational advances and emerging technology tools. 

Besides cooperating with teachers, learners can build a PLC with other classmates or peer members. Frequent gatherings or learning groups should be founded. They exchange information and knowledge about a specific field. 

As the old saying goes: There would be nothing better than learning from friends. Therefore, students should establish their own PLCs. They support each other’s learning process and share effective strategies.

How To Develop A PLC

The Learn, Be, Do module is one of the most widely used methods to build a professional learning community. Any PLC plan requires the Do step. While it is important, others deserve the same attention.

The Learn step is vital yet often overlooked. Participants will likely envision and build their plans for developing a PLC in this step. 

This phase entails reflecting and getting a shared awareness of the team’s goals and purposes. Take time to think of the team’s achievements, mistakes, and human and physical resources needs.

The Be is a step for exploring aspirations. In this stage, participants will consider all ideal characteristics, mindsets, and behaviors. All are suitable for the PLC. The step ensures a better-crafted plan to reach all PLC goals.

What Are the Challenges Of A PLC?

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It is vital to identify the derailing challenges of a PLC to make it a perfect module. 


There is no clearly defined goal beyond students’ performances. Most PLCs are designed to determine strategies to improve learners’ academic results. That’s why the goals for other aspects receive less attention and care.

The team should define and agree on measurable and specific goals to improve this problem. These mutual goals will be communicated well to all stakeholders with a clear picture of their successes.

Infrequent Meetings

Some PLCs don’t have frequent meetings due to teacher scheduling conflicts. Thus, educators should determine a meeting schedule or cadence. There should be alternate dates to solve meeting interruptions.

Off-topic Meetings

It is not rare that a PLC becomes a complaint session for a period for unrelated topics. This is because teachers have little time at school to chat and discuss their favorite subjects. 

From the onset, meeting norms are vital with the agreement of all members. There should be a focused plan to ensure specific goals as well.

Unbalanced Responsibility

In any system, there is a dilemma when one person takes charge of all the work. That’s also the case with a PLC. So it is vital to create a list to distribute responsibility after each meeting.

This list will be effective if each member’s strength is identified. A PLC should also spare some time for all members to build and develop their potential.

Each gathering and discussion should have a different leader. This action will create a more collaborative working environment.

Issues With Administrator Involvement

Sometimes, administrators are often considered an oversight instead of the desired collaboration. To deal with the situation, the school must set up a norm of growth, support, and development, maintaining it as a culture.

The leaders should communicate directly with teachers. Yet, it is vital to treat them as mentors, colleagues, and collaborators. This way, they can develop, execute, and evaluate the plan more clearly.

Mistake Growth For Success

There is improvement when applying a PLC protocol, but the growth has not yet lived up to the expectations. It’s best to clearly define the “success” before implementing the module. By that we mean set up a clear goal beforehand: Is 20% or 30% growth considered success? 


What does PLC stand for in education? What components belong to this module? Our article has explained all the definitions of professional learning communities. 

Undoubtedly, these models form a perfect approach to boosting school improvement. By allowing a group of teachers to work together towards a common goal, students’ outcomes will surely see big differences. 

As effective as it is, you also have to keep in mind some challenges when carrying out the plan to seize the best result.

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