How a principal establishes a school as a professional learning community
The purpose of this study was to examine and evaluate the leadership process and procedures involved with setting the framework for building a professional learning community (PLC). This paper identified leadership strategies employed by district personnel, school principals, and teacher leaders that encourage the formation of professional learning communities in schools. Qualitative data was collected through interviews with a district staff developer, a high school principal, a middle school principal, and teacher leaders in an attempt to answer the question: How does a principal establish a school as a professional learning community? Schools need to be redesigned to prepare their learners to lead productive lives in a complex, high-tech, and fast-changing world. To be responsive, flexible, and adaptive to emerging needs and opportunities, a process of restructuring and reculturing in schools must occur. An increasing number of public schools are becoming professional learning communities. The findings revealed many similarities in participant responses. Related thoughts, ideas, and verbiage, or common vocabulary, were uncovered. Each individual interviewed had a clear understanding of the characteristics of PLCs: (a) shared mission, vision, and values; (b) collective inquiry; (c) collaborative teams; (d) action orientation and experimentation; (e) commitment to continuous improvement; and (f) results orientation. These leaders continue their work in developing their schools as professional learning communities, driven by motivation to do what is best for kids. Recommendations for leaders of PLCs are included.