In many schools across the nation, principals and teachers arrive each day, enter their offices and classrooms, and go about their day with very little substantive interaction with colleagues (Cook, 2008; Rasberry & Mahajan, 2008). The effects of isolation are heightened in Catholic schools. Breaking out of the traditional isolation model has been especially difficult in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles where most TK/K-8 schools are comprised of single-graded classrooms. Greater demands on accountability have made it increasingly necessary to establish collaborative work environments, such as professional learning communities (PLCs).
This mixed methods study utilized conceptual frameworks by DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many, & Mattos (2016) on establishing PLCs, while leveraging Fullan, Cuttress, and Kilcher’s (2005) Eight Forces for Leaders of Change. These frameworks provided an analytical lens with which to view teachers’ perceptions of the current reality of their schools’ culture, as well as to guide principals in their roles to implement change in order to improve educational practices.
The purpose of this study was to explore teachers’ perceptions of the school’s culture, leadership, teaching practices, and professional growth and development to identify strengths and/or barriers that may affect a school’s readiness to establish PLCs. The researcher conducted a survey of teachers (n=111) using the School-Level Readiness Instrument (SLRI), analyzed the results, and then built on those results to illuminate further understanding utilizing focus groups. The data derived from the surveys and the experience of participating in the focus group interview informed the principals (n=11) of the strengths and/or barriers to full implementation of PLCs at their school sites.
Findings from this study were used to answer two research questions. The first research question relied on quantitative data from teacher surveys to measure teachers’ perceptions of their school sites. The second research question relied on qualitative data from researcher-led focus group sessions to capture the essence of the principals’ reactions to the survey results. Results from this study indicated participating schools are strong in culture, leadership, teaching, and professional growth and development, and that principals are ready and willing to move forward in implementing and developing PLCs at their school sites.
Recommendations include building capacity at the school through providing training and professional development for paraprofessionals and/or instructional aides; building leadership capacity by developing a Summer Leadership Academy for TK/K-12 educators; and building organizational capacity to foster systemness throughout the ADLA.
The researcher recommends that this study be replicated in the following ways: Conduct a larger sampling of schools within the ADLA to gather enough data to provide generalizable findings (and at the high school level to provide data about high school readiness to implement PLCs) and to gather longitudinal data tied to Catholic school effectiveness and student success.
|Commitee:||Hsieh, Betina, Galla, Anthony|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/5(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Educational administration, Religious education, Educational sociology, Education Policy|
|Keywords:||Catholic schools, Collaboration, Professional development, Professional learning Communities, School culture, School leadership, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, California, School principals, Teacher perceptions, Summer Leadership Academy|
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