The Relationship between Professional Learning Communities and School Based Change Open Access
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The Relationship between Professional Learning Communities and School Based ChangeChange is indeed the watchword for this millennial generation and the inherent responsibility of educating our youth places our country's educational system in the epicenter of that evolutionary experience. Such a clarion call for academic excellence requires an educational paradigm, which fosters a school's continuous capacity for improvement. The question that remains is whether or not there is a model which can systematically identify, cultivate, and refine the vast untapped reservoir of the collective expertise already in our schools and provide a systemic framework which fosters a collaborative, synergistic capacity for adaptability and change. The purpose of this research was to explore the relationship between professional learning communities and school based change. Through investigating how each of the participating schools manage these two processes this study was able to explore how DuFour and Eaker's (2008) Professional Learning Community Model (PLC), leadership, culture and change all interface to influence this relationship. The findings from this study should be useful to educators who are called upon to lead change initiatives within their schools as well as practitioners and scholars alike as they analyze, work with and write about school-based professional learning communities and their impact on school infrastructures. Using a mixed methods case study methodology the researcher used a purposive sample of three independent cases (K-9) within a mid-sized rural school system in the southwest region of the United States. Data collection included 24 semi-structures interviews with administrators and faculty, multiple observations, a school-wide questionnaire and relevant documents. Study results indicated that in order for PLC's to continually evolve and consistently adapt there must be a learning leader who is supportive and accessible, one who provides multiple opportunities for shared leadership and responsibility, one who embeds collegial teaching and learning into their teacher's daily work schedules, and one who fosters shared professional commitment amongst the members of his or her professional learning community.