I was talking to Ben last night about his PLC and I just wanted to share some thoughts on what it – and Ben’s work in general – has meant to me.
I first began reading Ben Slavic’s thoughts on teaching with comprehensible input about nine or ten years ago, on his old blog and the More TPRS list. This was pre-Facebook and before the absolute explosion of CI-related blogs, YouTube channels, regional conferences, and the like. Immediately upon finding Ben’s voice out there in Internet Land, I knew I had hit upon someone who sees education the same way that I do – as a natural process of helping children unfold their imaginations, learn to be part of a community, and be known for their ideas, talents, and contributions. We both have a deep sense of repose in the Comprehension Hypothesis and sense that if our only job is to deliver understandable messages in a safe, supportive community, then the actual day-to-day instruction becomes about delivering messages to that community in an engaging, personalized, creative way.
Ben made his blog into a private PLC (Professional Learning Community) about ten years ago in order to have a private space to share freely. Ben’s PLC has, over the years, been an incubator of CI leadership. It is a private, curated group, led by Ben, where many of the current thought leaders in this movement have developed through deep, sometimes intense, sharing. Many ideas that are common today, such as the Interpersonal Communication Skills Rubric and Ben’s Classroom Rules, were hammered out in the PLC. It is also where I personally go when I need to vent about my school life, without fear that it will be seen by administrators or parents or community members. It is, quite frankly, the best use of $5.00 a month that I can think of.
There are many sites and groups online now, so we are very fortunate indeed, compared to 2006 when I was just starting my journey and the internet was not so chock-full of CI. But I still return to Ben’s site almost every day, because it feels like home. Many of the people on the PLC have become real-life friends. And even if I had never met them in person, before I even made it to a single national conference, Ben’s group was like an ongoing virtual conference that I could turn to with questions, problems, and issues, to get support, ideas, validation, confidence, and, frankly, love. It’s my little Happy Place online. If it were not for Ben, I would not be anywhere near the person and teacher I am today. Thanks Ben!