New PLC book explores the important role of leaders
Throughout the educational community, professional learning communities (PLCs) seem to be on everyone’s mind. PLCs are often touted as a route to school improvement and there have been quite a few new books about PLCs published during the last few years.
Two former SEDL employees, Shirley Hord and Bill Sommers, were dissatisfied with the approach to PLCs taken in these recent publications. Hord explains, “Bill and I saw that many of these books weren’t thorough in their discussion of what a PLC really is, the learning that must take place within the community, and what it takes to lead a staff to become a PLC.”
So, they wrote their own book, Leading Professional Learning Communities: Voices from Research and Practice. It explores the critical role of the principal and other leaders in establishing a PLC. It discusses what research literature tells us about PLCs and the constant focus schools need on student and teacher learning. The authors also emphasize the commitment and courage necessary to lead a PLC. The book was published by Corwin Press in cooperation with the National Staff Development Council and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
What makes a PLC?
There has been a lot of misunderstanding about what makes a PLC. SEDL’s scholar emerita, Dr. Shirley Hord, has identified five attributes of a true PLC:
- Shared beliefs, values, and vision
- Shared and supportive leadership
- Collective learning and its application
- Supportive conditions
- Shared personal practice
These are discussed in the new book described above, but also in Hord’s 1997 publication, Professional Learning Communities, which can be downloaded free of charge.
Do you really have a PLC in your school?
SEDL has a questionnaire available that allows schools to assess their progress as a professional learning community. The questionnaire focuses on the five attributes.
To obtain a review copy of the questionnaire, e-mail email@example.com and ask for the “School Professional Staff as Learning Community Questionnaire (SPSLCQ).” If schools wish to administer the questionnaire, there is an online copyright request form at http://www.sedl.org/about/copyright_request.html that must be completed and approved before the questionnaire can be reproduced or used.
Free PLC Resources
You can access Issues . . . About Change on the SEDL Web site. Some of these issue papers are devoted to professional learning communities:
- Schools as Learning Communities - Issues About Change, Volume 4, Number 1
- Professional Learning Communities: What Are They and Why Are They Important? - Issues About Change, Volume 6, Number 1
- Assessing a School Staff as a Community of Professional Learners - Issues About Change, Volume 7, Number 1
- Launching Professional Learning Communities: Beginning Actions - Issues About Change,Volume 8, Number 1
- Co-Developers: Partners in a Study of Professional Learning Communities - Issues About Change, Volume 8, Number 2
View other free resources
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