In 1992, as a green new teacher, I was sent to Central Queensland to begin my teaching career. Green does not really cover it – I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, I came across a house full of other teachers with one year’s more experience than me – and that is where I met Peta Barker – co-founder of P.L. CREW.
Our paths crossed professionally and personally for the next 30 years. We solved all the problems in education – often on a deck with a few glasses of beer and wine and we also connected frequently to see live bands. One of our many common threads was music. In 1995 we had the exact same photos, ripped from a Rolling Stone mag, of Henry Rollins and Tex Perkins that covered our Teacher Diaries.
Peta and I worked together in numerous places and then were fortunate enough to connect again and work at Sentis Education, where we got to live the mission of changing people’s lives for the better. Our passion for education and strong line of sight to students has remained strong. Our uniform – all black – which also captured part of our ethos – “The Roadies – we are your road crew, here to make you look good.”
We connect with so many educators through our face-to-face programs and even our remote online work – webinars, 360s and coaching. We have always been committed to making our programs work – seeing them deeply embedded into the fabric of a school or professional practice of a teacher. But it is hard to achieve that face to face.
As we all know, 2020 was one helluva year. The Sentis Education team had the privilege of coaching Principals from across Queensland. Connecting to them and hearing about their experiences was very powerful – and this connection was achieved over the phone.
Our conversations soon highlighted the need for a non-judgmental, external platform where educators would connect safely and feel supported.
We wanted to design a platform to continue connecting and learning from the amazing people we met through our work and we wanted it to be fun. I will always remember my utter disappointment of seeing a virtual classroom – I was imagining loads of colour, sound and crazy fun but was met with a bland, online storage cabinet.
So, no Professional Learning Community – this was about being a member of a crew – and we were going to be the roadies.
One day in November – whiteboard markers in hand, Peta and I mapped out the journey of a P.L. CREW member. Music was the common theme – something that brings different people together, something that we all experience and respond to in unique ways.
We also wanted it to be driven by members with an opportunity to provide ideas and input, so it was not ‘done to you’ or compliance driven.
Let us know your thoughts. P.L CREW is a work in progress with the freedom to iterate and change to suit our members – just what we would have wanted back in 1992.