The influence of principal leadership responsibilities on professional learning communities : perspectives of high school teachers and principals
This study investigated teacher and principal perspectives regarding how principal leadership responsibilities influence the functioning of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). PLCs are a concept and a structure through which schools can address and respond to the myriad social, political, and technological forces that educators face today. By utilizing principal leadership responsibilities associated with second order change as a basis for identifying the needs of PLCs, data was gathered to analyze and inform principals in how to determine the needs of their PLCs. Such information can then be used to develop a school improvement plan to meet PLCs at their current level of functioning, and focus on addressing the specific needs of each PLC in a targeted manner that employs differentiated leadership designed by principals to positively impact teaching and learning. The purpose of this embedded case study was to examine how teachers and principals describe the influence of principal leadership responsibilities on PLCs. The case study was conducted at a class AA high school in Montana consisting of five principals, 95 teachers, and approximately 1830 students in the initial years of PLC implementation. The primary sources of data collection were: teacher and principal focus group interviews, document analysis, researcher's journal, and the use of archival collective efficacy data. Findings suggest the importance of clear ideals and beliefs; an emphasis on the need for principals to support teachers in differing ways; varying interpretations of principal leadership responsibilities between PLCs as well as between principals and teachers; and various levels of PLC functioning. As principals seek to develop and implement continual school improvement plans to enhance teaching and learning, they must understand the needs identified by their PLCs and develop a differentiated leadership plan to utilize principals' time, talents, and resources to meet those needs and support positive PLC functioning. Recommendations are made for further research.