3 Ways Microsoft Teams is Great for PLCs
News on February 09 2021
Your school/district just decided to start a Professional Learning Community. Now what? Don’t panic! Whether you are an administrator, teacher, or a member of the wider school community, establishing a PLC can be a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with your colleagues and increase student learning and engagement. With all of your other responsibilities at school, you may be feeling a bit wary about getting a PLC up and running. While PLCs do require time and energy, they don’t have to be a chore to create — especially if you use Microsoft Teams!
Let’s take a look at what PLCs are, and how to get one started with the help of Teams.
What are PLCs?
You may be surprised to learn PLCs are not exactly the new kid on the block. The concept of PLCs has been around since the 1990’s. Since their inception, PLCs have sought to change the focus of schools from teaching methodology to student learning. In a PLC, students drive instruction and the community learns together. Basically, a PLC is a community of educators who work collaboratively to analyze student learning outcomes in order to improve instruction, learning, and engagement.
With the recent exponential growth of educational technology, there is more of a need than ever for digital solutions that can foster collaboration and community learning. Microsoft Teams has risen to the challenge with its robust and customizable PLC Team option. Here are three ways to use a PLC Team to get the most out of this digital age learning community.
Templates, templates, templates!
Perhaps the best part of using a Teams PLC is the sheer amount of resources that are built-in and immediately available to you. It’s as simple as creating a Team, selecting the PLC option, and then inviting the collaborators who will comprise your PLC.
Once you’ve completed this basic set-up, head over to the Notebook and check out the wealth of resources Teams has built in automatically.
Removing anything you won’t need only requires a few simple clicks, and anything you see can be customized to meet your unique needs. Right click on any section or page to delete, rename, color code, and more.
We’re big fans of the SMART Goals template and the Meeting Notes template — they make setting clear PLC goals easy, and help keep track of community conversations, ideas, and remediation in a way that’s both simple and organized.
Meet, record, repeat
Whether you are in your brick-and-mortar school, or teaching remotely, Teams is a great way to connect with your PLC and keep everyone on the same page. The king of collaboration is, of course, Teams’ video conferencing function.
It’s often a good idea to schedule meetings in advance to make sure everyone in your PLC is prepared for the discussion. To do this, simply click the arrow and choose “Schedule a Meeting.” Meetings are automatically added to the Team calendar, and invites are sent to required attendees.
Sometimes, life and teaching get complicated and not every PLC member can make every meeting. Not to worry! Teams has you covered with its record feature. Record any meeting using the options in the 3-dot menu. All recordings are saved to the Teams post stream, making access easy for absentees, or anyone who wants a refresher on what was covered.
Since your video conference is part and parcel of the PLC Team, you can also easily access your Team Notebook and Files without leaving the meeting screen.
Integration is key
Once you’ve gotten your PLC up and running, it’s time to get serious about collecting student data, concrete work samples, and charting progress. Since Teams is part of Office 365, it’s seamlessly integrated with OneDrive.
What does this mean for your PLC? It means you can easily use Microsoft programs like Excel for data collection, OneNote for ideas or student work examples, and even create presentations in PowerPoint – all without ever having to leave Teams. You can quickly create folders and add resources in the Files section. Additionally, if you have existing files, you can easily upload them directly into the Team, or create brand new files that are automatically saved and accessible to all Team members.
The shared PLC Notebook is also a great place to consolidate any information and organize it to your liking. For this, the insert menu is your best friend. From the insert menu you can include files, images, links and even audio onto any page.
Using Teams for your PLC is a win-win. Simple organization, easy integration, and a plethora of resources make Teams an excellent choice for building a PLC that is fit for the digital age.
To see more tips on how to use Teams for your PLC, check out our course Using Microsoft Teams for School PLCs.
For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.
We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.