The fundamental role of school principals is to oversee the overall performance of learning institutions. It is their responsibility to ensure those leadership roles are executed to foster organizational growth whilst contributing towards the realization of their mandates. School managers are charged with the responsibility of creating a community culture amongst teachers and students in a bid to facilitate the learning process.
The old-fashioned structure of schools makes it impossible for principals to influence teachers directly. The traditional structures promote a professional isolation culture. Although this phenomenon is inevitable in many learning institutions, it does not foster individual teacher growth. Instead, it forms an obstacle that hinders school improvement. The adverse effects that the tradition has on school performance raise a need to devise appropriate strategies in an attempt to increase time for sharing experiences. This situation brings about an opportunity to engage in a professional talk concerning their shared lines of duty. However, failure of the work designs renders them fundamentally incompatible with the practice of improvement. In such situations, teachers remain isolated in stand-alone classrooms. As a result, they rarely engage in continuous and sustained learning about their pedagogical practices.. This paper critically analyses the challenges that are faced by teachers and school leaders in their efforts to establish and maintain learning communities.
Teacher isolation from the school principal is also detrimental to the development of instruction (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2001). Various studies have revealed that the supervision of teachers by principals in the event of instruction does not contribute to the improvement of their performance. In fact, this act hinders the process of learning. In most cases, the teachers perceive it as bothersome. As a result, most of them prefer being left alone in the classrooms. It is quite difficult for principals to influence teachers individually by visiting them in classes. The task is worse where the institutions are big and teachers are many. In addition, the belief that influence on teachers can in turn improve student performance has been proved to bear no fruit (Hord, 1997).
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
Professional learning communities (PLCs) can be defined as ongoing processes through which school administrators and teachers engage in collaborative work to seek and share learning with a view of enhancing their effectiveness as professionals for the benefit of students (Dufour & Marzano, 2011). This strategy is geared towards improving the overall student performance by creating a collaborative culture that focuses on learning. The collaborating teams usually have a mutual objective of improving the learning process by ensuring that student needs are met through a curricular-focused vision (Fullan, 2001). The PLCs concept emerged to improve the well-being of the teachers in an attempt to promote student performance. It also emphasizes the purpose of schools as learning rather than teaching.
Positive Changes of Implementing PLCs on Teacher Evaluation
According to Fullan (2001), professional learning communities foster interactive collaboration amongst teachers, principals, and administrators. The structure of the processes of PLCs indicates a direct line of influence of principals on the collaborative teams. This state of affairs directly influences the efforts of teachers during instruction. PLCs enable principals to execute their leadership duties in an incorporated and focused approach. This process promotes a culture of collaboration amongst teachers and school administrators. Implementation of the PLCs on teacher evaluation brings about various positive changes in pedagogy. At the outset, they lead to the development of shared values and vision (Fullan, 2001). This situation facilitates the process of making decisions that pertain to collaborative learning efforts.
Secondly, PLCs lead to the development of a common culture that is based on collaboration among professionals. According to McLaughlin and Talbert (2001), there is a belief that a shared pedagogical philosophy results in the achievement of better results than individual work. Collaboration provides a mechanism for sharing responsibility that promotes success in schools.
In addition, supportive and shared leadership amongst school administrators results in the formulation of common decisions that provide opportunities for improving the instructional process. The aims of PLCs develop from the interventions of the participants based on certain values, beliefs, and experiences (Dufour & Marzano, 2011). As a result, it augments the teacher’s leadership abilities through the development of a collaborative culture.
Moreover, PLCs emphasize on development of common pedagogical processes to bring about proper coordination of teaching-learning activities. Pooling educational practices create a framework for sharing knowledge amongst the teachers, students, and other stakeholders. This practice enables instructors to gather adequate information that guides them through problem-solving in an attempt to seek new solutions to educational challenges (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2001).
Challenges of establishing PLCs
Lack of Common Norms
PLCs are founded on common norms between team members. However, some people have a tendency of circumventing the stipulated rules (Dufour & Marzano, 2011). As a result, various functional encounters bring an about delayed realization of educational goals. Norms foster a common understanding amongst members of the school community with a view of attaining collective responsibilities. Consequently, instructors find it hard to adapt to new teaching-learning environments since school administrators differ in personality. This situation makes them formulate varying regulations that govern individual institutions (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2001).
Scarcity of Team Goals
The existence of traditional teaching practices hinders the successful implementation of the PLCs because some teachers feel that thorough teaching is the sole solution to improved student performance. Failure of the teams to take into account different capabilities of students results in underperformance (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2001).
McLaughlin & Talbert (2001) reveal that many teachers and administrators have a tendency of deviating from the norms that are set to govern the instructional process. The existence of obstacles to effective sharing of knowledge amongst the teams poses difficulties to the realization of the team’s objectives. In the wake of globalization and increased communication avenues, Dufour and Marzano (2011) reveals that some teams fail to match new-fangled technologies in communication. This situation slows the flow of information amongst the teams.
Deficiency of Essential Learning Outcomes
According to Dufour and Marzano (2011), most learning institutions have inadequate resources to facilitate pedagogical processes. This situation hinders the proper implementation of the school curriculum. Realization of indispensable educational performance demands the intervention of various variables that create a collaborative culture in the school (Dufour & Marzano, 2011).
School administrators should remain at the forefront to discard traditional authoritative leadership practices and embrace professional learning communities to improve student performance. PLCs promote a collaborative culture in schools. This situation leads to the realization of far-reaching benefits. However, some challenges still exist during the establishment of the PLCs strategy. Such shortcomings should be dealt with appropriately in a bid to accomplish learning objectives.
Dufour, R., & Marzano, R. (2011). Leaders of Learning: How District, School, and Classroom Leaders improve student achievement. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.
Fullan, M. (2001). The Role of the Principal in School Reform. Web.
Hord, S. (1997). Professional Learning Communities: Communities of Continuous Inquiry and Improvement. Web.
McLaughlin, M., & Talbert, J. (2001). The Principal’s Role in Leading a Professional Learning Community. New York, NY: Pearson.