Professional learning communities (PLC) have become one of the most talked about ideas in the current movement of educational reform and school improvement. Many public schools are working to become professional learning communities in the hope that student learning will improve when adults commit themselves to working collaboratively around teaching and learning and then take action that will improve student learning and achievement. In spite of benefits of establishing professional learning communities, problems may persist in sustaining schools as learning communities if perceptions of the principals and teachers are different. Creating a learning community often requires a school’s culture to change significantly. Schools must understand how adults learn and sustain learning, and as well, teachers need to know how to improve practice. This qualitative multiple case study will consider the relationships between teachers’ and principals’ perceptions of their school as a professional learning community. The implications of an organization characterized by trust and mutual interdependence in which the adults understand how adults learn and sustain learning, teachers know how to improve practices, and permanent personal investment, affiliation, and caring that promotes continuity and stability are elements of this research study. This qualitative multiple case study shows how schools that operate as a PLC can engage the entire group of professionals in coming together for learning within a supportive, self-created community. Teachers’ and principals’ learning is more complex, deeper, and more fruitful in a social setting where participants can interact, test their ideas, challenge their inferences and interpretations, and process new information with each other. This study was intended to employ the perceptions of principals and teachers involving 3 elementary schools Prekindergarten through 4th grade in the Metropolitan Nashville Public School System (MNPS) in Nashville, Tennessee, however, due to constraints of the MNPS guidelines and aggregated data from the survey, the research questions were unable to be answered. Only teacher perceptions were allowed to be used. Archival data from the Tennessee State Teaching, Empowering, Leadership and Learning (TELL) Survey was used from Spring 2015. Teachers (N=166), used the TELL gathered perception information prior to obtaining information through interviews with teachers only. Interviews were conducted to gather in-depth information from teachers in each school. The study revealed that teachers in all 3 schools had perceptions of their PLCs that were considered to be high levels of agreement among themselves. Based on the findings from the TELL survey and the interviews, the study concluded that: Within each school, there appear to be three key elements associated with strong shared and supportive leadership: involvement of teachers in leadership roles, open door policy and approachable administration, and trustful and respectful environments. Adverse people and lack of trust in particular are seen as important obstacles to effective PLCs. For all three schools, insufficient time for collaboration was seen as a strong obstacle to effective PLCs. Although professional development activities are ongoing at all schools, there is a need to evaluate the effectiveness of those activities, communicate the results to teachers, and provide follow-up from these activities. Across all schools, collaboration appears to be limited primarily to grade-level teams. Principals need to plan time for vertical teaming.
|Commitee:||Bockrath, Debra, Piferi, Rachel|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, School administration|
|Keywords:||Agreements, Communities, Learning, Professional, Teachers|
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