Professional Learning Communities in Prisons

Shannon Swain, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of the COABE Journal, Prison Literacy Edition.

Professional learning communities are not a new concept, having originated within K–12 education in the 1960s. In 2016, the Office of Correctional Education in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation embarked on a process of implementing professional learning communities (PLCs) in all 35 California state prisons.

AIR provided professional development and consulting on the PLC process. Through working to implement the building blocks of PLCs in a correctional setting, lessons were learned about how to address some of the particularities of the prison environment. This article describes some of the issues and strategies surrounding time and space for meetings, standards, engaging all staff, and distributive leadership.

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