The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 13, 2013

Educators gather to Share Ideas

Conference focuses on role of PLCs

MANKATO — Heather Mueller's second-grade daughter called a little meeting at home one day.

She sat her mom down and presented her with worksheets and packets of information she was receiving at school. She said, Mom, these are our “ELOs” (essential learning outcomes), but there's a problem — not everybody is learning these things, giving her friend as an example of someone who was not doing as well on the lessons.

“Now what are you going to do about it?” she said to Mueller, professional development coordinator for Mankato Area Public Schools.

At 8 years old, the scene is amusing, to say the least. But Mueller pointed out to a large group of educators from 15 districts across the region Wednesday at East High School that the kids — her daughter, included — are truly buying into the concept that “every child can learn.” And it's up to educators to work together to make sure that happens.

That's the purpose of the annual South Central Minnesota Educational Learning Consortium PLC Seminar. PLC stands for professional learning community, meaning collaboration among teachers and administrators to share ideas about what’s working, what’s not and how to move forward with a shared vision.

“It's always focused on student learning,” Mueller said. “It's also really about adults and our consistent (effort) to reach every single child.”

Part of Mueller's and Mankato Supt. Sheri Allen's keynote was devoted to an idea from an Abraham Lincoln quote: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so must we think anew.”

Mueller asked those in attendance to talk about what entrenched practices in their schools and districts need to be examined and changed. Allen brought up the kinds of “stomachache” inducing changes that are significant and fundamental, such as technology, that are difficult but perhaps necessary.

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