Principals' perceptions concerning the process and dynamics of the implementation of professional learning communities
If the reforms in public education are to be sustained, it is commonly believed that they must be founded in new conceptions of schooling. Recently, to improve school effectiveness and raise students’ success, educational researchers are devoting increasing attention to research related to transforming our schools into professional learning communities. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of principals concerning the process and dynamics of the implementation of professional learning communities. Qualitative method was used in this study. The perceptions of the principals were explored through six research questions. The research questions addressed the following areas: process and dynamics of the implementation process, challenges to the collaboration and issues of sustainability in professional learning communities. Six principals, four females and two males, from two school divisions were selected and data were collected using semi-structured interviews. The interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. Participants’ responses were analyzed according to the research questions and recurring themes.The findings of this study revealed that the process and dynamics of implementing professional learning communities, included pre-implementation (self-education), the implementation process itself (training internal stakeholders), teaching the PLC concept to external stakeholders, and facilitating collaboration amongst all stakeholders. Participants emphasized that collaboration was a critical component for the positive development and effectiveness of the professional learning communities. Further analysis of the data indicated that time, funding, diverse interests, preconceived mindsets of stakeholders, constant staff changes, workload, fear of being ridiculed or judged, and evaluation/data collection methods were the major challenges in the implementation process. Regarding sustainability, respondents advocated that it was essential to focus on school vision, create a collaborative culture, provide administrative support to all stakeholders, and retain key people who are self-motivated. In the final analysis, this study determined that the implementation of professional learning communities is a question of will. A group of staff members who are determined to work collaboratively will be able to implement and sustain professional learning communities, regardless of some foreseeable problems.
Principals' perceptions, implementation, Professional Learning Communities, process and dynamics
Master of Education (M.Ed.)