Opportunity Culture Voices: MCL vs PLC–What’s the Difference?

by | January 20, 2016

“When out with friends or at dinner parties, I frequently get asked, ‘So what do you do?’ My ‘I’m a biology multi-classroom leader’ response receives perplexed looks, so my boyfriend usually pipes in, ‘It’s kind of like the science department chair’—and then I have to kindly say, ‘Well, sort of, except that I do all this other stuff…’

“As the leader of a five-person teaching team at a high-need Charlotte, N.C., high school, I teach a senior International Baccalaureate biology class every other day for one period—leaving 88 percent of my time to coach my team teachers, teach with them, pull out students to work one-on-one, lead data meetings, or anything else necessary to help my teachers and students succeed. Now, instead of teaching just my own 80 or 100 students, I reach all 500 biology students.”

–Charlotte-Mecklenburg Multi-Classroom Leader for Biology Erin A. Burns, in More Powerful Than a Department Chair

In January’s installment in the Opportunity Culture series on Real Clear Education, Erin Burns writes about her experience as a multi-classroom leader (MCL) at West Charlotte High School, and the difference between that role and a previous position as a “professional learning community” (PLC) lead. “As PLC lead, I was in the dark,” about what the teachers in the PLC actually did in the classrooms–and no true authority to match the title, regardless of how the teachers were doing.

As an MCL, she has authority to coach the team, and accountability for the results of all the team’s students. She continues to teach, but has just one regularly scheduled class–giving her great flexibility to co-teach, analyze student data for the team, lead the lesson planning for each week, and meet weekly with the team together and individually.

Read more in her full column about how she does it all, and what glitches she’s encountered–and the difference it makes for students, and hear her thoughts in the accompanying video.

This is the ninth in the Opportunity Culture series–read them all here.

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