Author(s)

Lynn Barberi

Date Approved

7-7-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Department

Educational Leadership

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Manning, JoAnn

Subject(s)

Professional learning communities

Disciplines

Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration

Abstract

This limited practical action research study was designed to address a problem of practice at one Pre-K - third grade school located in a suburban community on the east coast of the United States, wherein teachers work the majority of the time in isolation from their peers and where collaboration is the exception, not the rule. Teachers have few opportunities to share teaching strategies and build on the strengths of their peers to improve the learning outcomes of their students as they practice the art of teaching in the classroom. The goal of this study was for the school principal to serve as the leader of an organizational change which would positively impact student achievement. The teachers self-selected peers with whom they worked as members of a Professional Learning Community. They used a researcher created protocol that required them to identify short term, common student learning outcomes, and develop common pre-assessments and post-assessments to measure students' performance. Each team used the protocol a minimum of 5 times over a 10 month period. It was inferred that this process would increase the teachers' collective inquiry, empowering them to effectively monitor students' progress and intervene early when students had difficulty mastering the specific learning goals. Staff development was given throughout the process to increase the teachers' understanding of the Professional Learning Community construct. Data collection included a review of historical artifacts from the school, a questionnaire, meeting agendas, field observations, structured and semi-structured interviews, a researcher designed protocol and supporting documents, artifacts of professional development activities, and teachers' written and verbal reflections. In this practical action research study, I sought to answer the following questions: 1. In what ways will having the elementary school principal create structures and support within the school influence the teachers' propensity to work collaboratively to support student learning outcomes? 2. Which actions of an elementary school principal have the greatest influence on teacher behavior to foster and support collaboration, collective inquiry, and adult learning? 3. What conditions will support or hinder teachers in developing and using common student learning objectives, pre-assessments, and post-assessments to measure students' performance?

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