Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Professional Learning Communities: Overcoming the Roadblocks

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Professional Learning Communities: Overcoming the Roadblocks

Article excerpt

This research investigated the perceived impact on roadblocks to collaboration in the implementation of the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model, as defined by DuFour and DuFour (2006). This study plumbs the perceptions of teachers and staff members of one elementary school in the Southeastern U.S through an open-ended survey, quantitative data collected by an outside organization, one-on-one interviews, and direct observations of PLC Meetings. Findings indicate the model alleviates roadblocks to collaboration but that continued efforts need to be made to encourage the development of a collaborative culture. The authors discuss the implications for school personnel who are trying to implement the PLC model.

Twenty-first century teaching initiatives place emphasis on the formation of collaborative professional cultures. However, recent educational literature suggests that there are a number of roadblocks to the creation of such cultures. Foremost among them are a lack of time, the isolated nature of the profession, and the presence of divergent points of view (Grossman, Wineburg, & Woolworth, 2000; Friend, 2000; Hollingsworth, 2001; Achinstein, 2002; Appi, Troha, & Rowell, 2001). This study investigated the perceptions of 37 educators at one state elementary school in the Southeastern United States. The focus of the study was the impact of implementing the Professional Learning Community (PLC) Model, as defined by DuFour and DuFour (2006), on roadblocks to collaboration. Data collection was comprised of an openended survey, quantitative data collected by the High Five Regional Partnership for High School Excellence, one-on-one interviews, and observations of PLC Meetings. The findings of this study indicate the positive impact the PLC model had on the school that participated in the study. We conclude this article with recommendations for continued improvement in the future.

Research Questions

There were two overarching research questions:

* What was the effect of the implementation of Professional Learning Communities on roadblocks to collaboration among teachers?

* If roadblocks were addressed, did the collaborative culture change?

In addition, the following questions were also explored:

* How did the implementation of Professional Learning Communities allow/disallow for sufficient time for teachers to collaborate?

* How did the implementation of Professional Learning Communities impact the isolated nature of the profession?

* How did the implementation of Professional Learning Communities impact conflicts that occur when divergent points of view are present?

Related Professional Learning Community Research

Although time and resources are necessary for teacher collaboration to be successful, one of the chief complaints of teachers is that there is insufficient time to work together (Grossman et al., 2001; Friend, 2000). Specifically, teachers indicate meetings and other responsibilities of their positions leave them with little time to collaborate (Leonard & Leonard, 1999). The traditional education setting requires teachers to work behind closed doors, and even if teachers attempt collaboration, they return to their classrooms independently (Hollingsworth, 2001; Grossman et al., 2001). Lam, Yim, and Lam (2002) go so far as to say that there are few teachers who enter the profession to collaborate with others. When teachers do attempt to collaborate with one another, conflicts arise based on different approaches to teaching, different values, and different personalities (Achinstein, 2002; Appi et al., 2001; Grossman et al., 2001). Time factors, the isolated nature of teaching, and divergent points of view hinder teachers' abilities to form collaborative communities.

If established correctly, PLCs should be able to address these roadblocks to collaboration. Tb address the roadblock of time, PLC experts recommend allocated time. …

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