Professional Learning Communities

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Traditionally, teacher development typically occurs through trial and error in the isolated confinements of each teacher’s classroom with some periodic whole-group professional development (Goddard & Goddard, 2007). Within the past few decades, many schools and districts, including ours, have considered and experimented with Professional Learning Communities (PLC) as an alternative framework in guiding a more efficient development program for their teachers. PLCs are focused on enhancing student learning through developing teacher practices. The concept of PLC relies on using structured collaborative sessions amongst teachers within the school to build internal capacity. Through PLCs, teachers critically reflect on current practices, brainstorm solutions, and obtain help and advice from others in a supportive growth-oriented environment over an extended period of time (Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2008; Nelson, 2009; Scher & O'Reilly, 2009; Bolam, McMahon, Stoll, Thomas, & Wallace, 2005). The theory of change guiding PLCs holds that by providing teachers with targeted support from within the school community, as oppose to hiring additional outside experts, professional developments can become for efficient. Implementation of effective PLCs requires intentional effort, school-wide and possibly district-wide restructuring of teacher schedules, and additional resources. For schools considering implementing PLCs, it is important to understand the logic of action and the benefits of PLCs as it relates to teacher improvement and increased student achievement.

Analysis of the underlying logic of action and evidence from empirical studies show that developing Professional Learning Communities within schools can lead to increas...

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