Professional Practice

My PLC Just Formed… Now What?


“PLC” (Personal Learning Community) has become a popular educational buzzword in the last few years. Teachers of the same subject, including art teachers, are expected to work together to create joint lesson plans and common assessments.

If you have been asked to form a PLC at your school, collaborating with other art teachers can be an exciting yet daunting task. Having questions about how your team will get along and if you’ll be able to work together is common, however, understanding the stages that all new teams experience can be helpful. These stages are based on a model of group development first proposed by psychologist Bruce Tuckman in 1965. Here’s a look at the four stages your team can expect to face as your PLC takes shape.

Your group just met. The exchange is mostly pleasant as you discuss high level ideas for the group such as meeting times and possible goals. However, roles have yet to be established. This is a time of excitement but also can be filled with anxiety.

The forming stage can be like a honeymoon phase and can be over fairly quickly. The storming stage, as the name suggests, can be unpleasant. Art teachers have strong opinions about methods and theories of art and teaching. Concepts and ideas are challenged, putting some group members on the defensive. It is at this point that teams fail. It is important to realize it is just a phase. Stick it out.

Eventually, your team weathers the storm and things start to normalize. Roles and responsibilities become established and rules of engagement are developed.

This stage is marked by high productivity. Your team finally reaches the place you want to be. You’re writing joint lesson plans, common assessments and working towards other established goals.

Understanding these four stages and which stage your PLC is in can lessen some of the anxiety of forming a PLC. Know that if you work through the storm, your team will come out performing like a champ. Check out our PD Paks for even more resources for your PLC!

What have been your experiences with PLCs? 

What stage do you feel your PLC is at? 

Do you have any advice for teams in the Storming stage? 



Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Ian Sands

Ian Sands, a high school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. He is a co-author of The Open Art Room and believes art teachers shouldn’t make art—they should make artists.

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