The relationship of instructional supervision and professional learning communities as catalysts for authentic professional growth : a study of one school division
Burant, Scott E
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There has been a shift in education as the focus has moved from the centrality of teaching to the importance of learning (Aseltine, Judith, & Rigazio-DiGilio, 2006). The enhancement of educational experiences and learning of students is a goal shared by instructional supervision (Nolan & Hoover, 2004) and professional learning communities (DuFour & DuFour, 2003). As the need for professional development activities, such as instructional supervision and professional learning communities, to support professional growth continues, how these activities are implemented within a school division remains a critical concern. The purpose of the study was to investigate the links between professional learning communities and instructional supervisory practice as catalysts for authentic professional growth. The result of this study suggests that a zone of authentic professional growth occurs when the activities of professional learning communities and instructional supervision as activities of professional development and reflective practice are aligned. In an era of greater accountability in education school divisions have attempted to support their professional staff with limited resources. Connecting activities to support the goals of the school division, such as professional growth and student learning, is one means of maximizing the use of the resources. There has been considerable research into instructional supervision and professional learning communities however little has been done regarding the connection and implications of these professional activities on each other. The research questions of the study focused on gathering the level of agreement of teachers and in-school administrators regarding qualities of effective instructional supervision and successful professional learning communities. An additional research question focused on what were the criteria of successful professional learning communities that related to effective instructional supervisory practice. The study used mixed research methodology to collect information about one school division. A survey was utilized to collect the perceptions of teachers and in-school administrators regarding successful professional learning communities and effective instructional supervision. The data collected from the survey was analyzed by two interpretation panels, one consisting of teachers and the other consisting of in-school administrators. From the analysis provided by the panels and the survey data collected, it was found that from the perceptions of teachers and in-school administrators in one school system, professional learning communities can contain specific qualities that support effective instructional supervision. The combination of these two professional activities can become a catalyst for authentic professional growth for teachers and in-school administrators. The findings of the study highlights the eight preconditions necessary for an environment or zone of authentic professional growth through the use of professional learning communities to support instructional supervision. Implications, based on key findings, of the study include the need to manage time effectively, and to provide sufficient resources to support instructional supervision through professional learning communities. The school system also needs to develop a culture in which there exists a common understanding of instructional supervision and professional learning communities. It was found that ownership and shared leadership are vital to creating an environment which can embrace the collaborative culture necessary for successful professional learning communities and effective instructional supervision.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
SupervisorRenihan, Patrick J.
CommitteeBurgess, David; Cottrell, Michael; Roset, Sharon; Noonan, Warren
Copyright DateSeptember 2009
professional learning communities
in-school adminisrator perspective
provision of time
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