The Guilded Age: Professional Learning Communities in Education

By Walter McKenzie

A millennium ago, artists and artisans formed guilds to share expertise and support one another in highly-skilled professional practice. These vibrant learning communities sustained artistry and craftsmanship through the dark ages when centers of learning were exclusive and rare. Much like these medieval guilds, professional learning communities (PLCs) provide a new dimension to professional development as educators flock around high-interest needs and topics. By definition, PLCs

Form organically around immediate member needs and interests.
Allow participants to self-select their roles and contributions.
Offer opportunities to enrich and deepen understanding.
Include collaborative inquiry in the learning process.
Provide practice and risk taking in a safe, supportive climate.
Grow, morph, and disband as part of a life cycle.


When Walter McKenzie speaks about professional learning communities — listen.  Walter is a very bright light. He’s a pioneer in all things involving virtual communities of practice. He is also one of my mentors. Walter has taught me much over the years. Let him teach you a bit about PLC’s. 


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