ERG SES H 10, Reflective Practice in Education
Since the 1990s the promotion of professional learning communities (PLC) has emerged as a promising way to assist educators to learn, collaborate and support each other as they work to meet the needs of students (Huffman et al., 2016). Research into PLCs has also suggested that the core PLC elements - having a shared vision and values, supportive and shared leadership, collective creativity, fostering of supportive conditions and joint practical activities (Hord, 2004) - can provide an ambience in which there can be dialogue amongst professionals (Gray, Kruse, & Tarter, 2016). Deep team learning(DuFour, 2004), the development of positive coping strategies (Delany et al., 2015), and teachers becoming pedagogically responsive (Gay, 2013) are additional benefits which may ultimately increase students’ achievements (DuFour & Marzano, 2015).
Fleming (2004) has suggested that students’ levels of achievement are positively influenced when leadership is shared between the school’s principal and teachers. The key to a successful PLC is that responsibility and authority are distributed and shared between the principal and the teachers (Hord & Sommers, 2008). According to Schmoker (1999), the efforts made and successes achieved by individual teachers will be limited in scope unless there is coordination on the part of the school administration.
While numerous studies and policy proposals have emphasised the professional development opportunities available in PLCs and the importance of principals in implementing and sustaining them, this study looks at two perhaps neglected questions: whether implementing and sustaining PLCs will have an effect on the leadership quality (style) of a principal and whether participating in PLCs will affect teachers’ levels of efficacy.
Founded in social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1977), teachers' self-efficacy beliefs have been repeatedly associated with positive teaching behaviours and outcomes (Hsiao, Tu, Chang, & Chen, 2011; Klassen & Tze, 2014; Protheroe, 2008). Therefore, I am interested to see if PLCs can be used to develop leadership and efficacy, two important pillars for professional development and, in turn, for school improvement.
The research questions are:
1) Does a principal acting to support and sustain a PLC have any effect on his/her leadership style?
a) What are the teachers’ perceptions?
b) What are the principals’ perceptions?
2) Is there any relationship between the implementation of a PLC and teachers’ levels of self-efficacy?
a) What are the collective perceptions of this on the part of members of a PLC?
b) What are each individual teacher’s perceptions?
Reference List Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological review, 84(2), 191. Delany, C., Miller, K., El-Ansary, D., Remedios, L., Hosseini, A., & McLeod, S. (2015). Replacing stressful challenges with positive coping strategies: a resilience program for clinical placement learning. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 20(5), 1303-1324. DuFour, R. (2004). What is a "professional learning community"? Educational Leadership, 61(8), 6-11. DuFour, R., & Marzano, R. J. (2015). Leaders of learning: How district, school, and classroom leaders improve student achievement. USA: Solution Tree Press. Gay, G. (2013). Teaching to and through cultural diversity. Curriculum Inquiry, 43(1), 48-70. Gray, J., Kruse, S., & Tarter, C. J. (2016). Enabling school structures, collegial trust and academic emphasis: Antecedents of professional learning communities. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 44(6), 875-891. Hord, S., & Sommers, W. (2008). Leading professional learning communities: Voices from research and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Hord, S. M. (2004). Professional learning communities: An overview. In S. M. Hord (Ed.), Learning together leading together: Changing schools through professional learning communities (pp. 5-14). New York: Teachers College. Hsiao, H.-C., Tu, Y.-L., Chang, J.-C., & Chen, S.-C. (2011). The influence of teachers’ self-efficacy on innovative work behavior. Paper presented at the International Conference on Social Science and Humanity IPEDR. Huffman, J. B., Olivier, D. F., Wang, T., Chen, P., Hairon, S., & Pang, N. (2016). Global conceptualization of the professional learning community process: Transitioning from country perspectives to international commonalities. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 19(3), 327-351. Klassen, R. M., & Tze, V. M. C. (2014). Teachers’ self-efficacy, personality, and teaching effectiveness: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 12, 59-76. Protheroe, N. (2008). Teacher Efficacy: What Is It and Does It Matter? Principal, 87(5), 42-45.
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