A bias toward ownership: building agency in PLCs

PLCs work best when facilitators and members have a sense of ownership.

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A PLC facilitator recently came to me with a request to open up the weekly schedule to more PLT time. While I’m happy to weigh in, my ideal response would be “What do you think?” Teachers are highly capable of independent thought, but we’re not terribly comfortable with it. School is a hierarchical place. Pecking order and dependence is carved into our curriculum, our schedule, our buildings, and our relationships. In the independent school domain we enjoy a great deal of freedom in our teaching practice, coaching responsibilities, and extracurricular sponsorship. But when it comes to our work outside of our classroom or our work with kids, we look to “the higher-ups”–sometimes for guidance, other times for permission.

I want our PLC facilitators to feel that they can make decisions and take action independently. If ever they make a decision that I disagree with, I have two options: live with it or help them roll back that decision.

Bottom line: The gains that teams make in feeling a sense of agency and ownership far outweigh the risks–what might be retained or avoided by cultivating an ethos of deference and hierarchy.

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