Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Relationship between Professional Learning Community, Bureaucratic Structure and Organisational Trust in Primary Education Schools *

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Relationship between Professional Learning Community, Bureaucratic Structure and Organisational Trust in Primary Education Schools *

Article excerpt

Like most public institutions, schools have to make adjustments because of changes in the social, economic and political climates in which they operate. Making such adjustments is not a new phenomenon for schools. Throughout history, schools have altered their internal operations in various ways in response to external influences (Tylus, 2009, p. 1). As a result of external influences, schools search for ways to respond to the demands of society and policymakers, and they have had to develop a variety of strategies, including a change of school structures. Although many strategies have been suggested for this subject, some researchers suggest professional learning communities as a structural element to maximise school effectiveness (DuFour, 2008; Fullan, 2006; Schlechty, 2005; Schmoker, 2004). Professional learning communities attract the attention of schools that perceive change models as a strategic element (Dockery, 2011) and are seen as a strong area for staff development, school improvement and change (Hord, 1997).

Research shows that professional learning communities positively affect student achievement, teacher morale, teacher effectiveness and job satisfaction, school culture and climate (Ackerman, 2011; Becenti, 2009; Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Grippen, 2007; Louis, Dretzke, & Wahlstrom, 2010; Moore, 2010; Supovitz, Sirinides, & May, 2010). Furthermore, professional learning communities decrease teachers' loneliness (isolation) and increases working capacity to ensure a productive school environment and improve the quality of teaching (Hord, 1996). In a professional learning community, teachers experience shared leadership (Huffman & Hipp, 2003), become aware of a distinct purpose (DuFour, Eaker, DuFour, & Karhanek, 2004), strengthen their commitment to the goals of the school and its mission (Lee, Smith, & Croninger, 1995; McLaughlin, 1993) and strengthen their commitment to student learning (McLaughlin, 1993).

The attempts of schools to create professional learning communities usually fail. Many such attempts are put in action without considering the formal and informal aspects of the school organisation. When the desired results are not obtained, such attempts are shelved after a while. The effect of school structure on a professional learning community's formation, development and maintenance is often ignored. Moreover, determining an effective organisational structure to create a professional learning community is not considered in depth. The same situation is true for research that attempts to identify effective school characteristics. Although these studies describe how effective schools look, they do not provide information on the procedures that affect school structure, effectiveness and development (McGuigan, 2005). Such procedures need to be known to provide an understanding of how organisations structure themselves (Mintzberg, 2014).

Many schools have attempted to create professional learning communities under different names. However, the type of organisational structure or structures that can effectively create professional learning communities has not been considered in depth or the structure has been neglected because of the belief in the immutability of the existing structure. The same situation is true for studies that have attempted to identify the characteristics of effective schools. Such studies do not provide descriptive information about the procedures that lead to development effectiveness and the functioning of the school structures even though they identify how effective schools look (McGugian, 2005). However, we need to know how schools function to understand how they configure themselves (Mintzberg, 2014). Recently, some studies have revealed that types of bureaucracy have an effect on professional learning communities starting from the assumption that school structures are bureaucratic. Structures with enabling bureaucracy are important factors in the creation of professional learning communities and affect instructional practices in the classroom (Gray, 2011; Search-Hudson, 2005; Tylus, 2009). …

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