Beliefs of Leadership Practices and Their Influence on the Implementation of Professional Learning Communities

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2015-12

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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine teachers’ and principals’ beliefs of leadership practices that influence the implementation of professional learning communities (PLCs). Leaders must ground themselves in practices that transform values into actions, visions into realities, and separateness into solidarity… (Kouzes, 2002, p. xvii). Thus, PLCs provide the structures and practices to help change school cultures. A phenomenological design was used in order to analyze textual evidence, which was collected using an interview protocol. Interviews with eight teachers and four principals were conducted to determine their beliefs of the manner in which the leadership of the principal affected the implementation of a professional learning community within a school culture. The research was driven by the Five Leadership Practices of challenge the process, inspire a shared vision, enable others to act, model the way, and encourage the heart (Kouzes & Posner, 2002) and the Five Dimensions of a Professional Learning Community, shared and supportive leadership, shared values and vision, collective learning and application, shared personal practice, supportive conditions–relationships/structures (Hord, 2008). If being a leader is taking followers to a place they may have never been, and if leadership is instrumental in a PLC, then one can assume he or she must first understand PLCs and how it can make a difference in campus culture. Principals within this study were faced with creating a collaborative culture as answered by both teachers’ and principals’ interview questions responses. The teachers in this study believed that challenging the process, enabling others to act and modeling the way were the most important leadership practices affecting PLCs. Whereas principals believed that modeling the way through a supportive structure and encouraging the heart were the most important leadership practices that would affect the implementation of a PLC. The research questions and interview questions responses provided descriptions of each participant’s lived experience. Thus, it is clear the common experiences of teachers and principals resulted in the belief that the leadership practice of model the way is necessary to affect the implementation of a PLC.

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Learning communities

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