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Teachers Learning in Community

Realities and Possibilities

Betty Lou Whitford, Diane R. Wood

Publication Year: 2010

Raises provocative questions about the efficacy, viability, and sustainability of professional learning communities. This book raises provocative questions about the efficacy, viability, and sustainability of professional learning communities given the present political and structural realities of public schools. The culmination of six years of research in five states, it explores real world efforts to establish learning communities as a strategy for professional development and school improvement. The contributors look at the realities of these communities in public schools, revealing power struggles, logistical dilemmas, cultural conflicts, and communication problems—all forces that threaten to dismantle the effectiveness of learning communities. And yet, through robust and powerful descriptions of particularly effective learning communities, the authors hold out promise that they might indeed make a difference. Anyone persuaded that learning communities are the new “magic bullet” to fix schools needs to read this book, including teacher educators, educational leaders and practitioners, professional developers, and educational leadership faculty.

Published by: State University of New York Press

TEACHERS LEARNING IN COMMUNITY

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CONTENTS

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pp. v-vi

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. vii-ix

As with all long-term field studies, many people have been involved and made significant contributions to the research we conducted and the understandings we developed. Topping our list are the many teachers and administrators in seven school districts in five states who generously shared their time and insights with us. As we fanned out intotheir offices, schools, and classrooms, they graciously put aside pressing...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. xi-xiii

In the last decade, reference to “professional learning communities” has dramatically increased in the literature of both education and business. What, in fact, is a “learning community”? What purposes should learning communities serve? How do they operate? How do participants interact? How should they interact to fulfill their purposes? What motivates people to participate in them—or resist them...

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1. PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES FOR COLLABORATIVE TEACHER DEVELOPMENT

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pp. 1-20

In the last decade, reference to “professional learning communities” has dramatically increased in the literature of both education and business.1 Much of this literature claims that professional learning communities are a major strategy for improving institutions in a changing world. For example, in Professional Learning Communities that Work,Dufour and Eaker (1998) argue, “The most promising strategy for sus-...

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2. CREATING LEARNINGCOMMUNITIES: The Lucent Peer Collaboration Initiative

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pp. 21-39

As the Lincoln vignette in chapter 1 demonstrates, analytical conversations among teachers about student work and their own teaching practices can have powerful effects. Teachers’ knowledge—ordinarily tacit and individually held—is elicited, shared, and critiqued. New roles and practices emerge, new insights develop, teacher learning is en hanced, and deeper understanding about individual students’ learning...

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3. LEARNING COMMUNITIES: Catalyst for Change or a New Infrastructure for the Status Quo?

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pp. 41-71

By the time the school district of Hillsboro, Pennsylvania became part of the Peer Collaboration Initiative, it was already a district on the move. Immediately upon taking the helm, a visionary new superintendent began reassuring her staff and the larger community that the district would “definitely be rising” over the next few years. This was a particularly daring pronouncement; shortly before she took her position as...

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4. LEARNING COMMUNITIES IN AN ERA OF HIGH-STAKES ACCOUNTABILITY

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pp. 73-92

When the federal legislation known as No Child Left Behind became law in 2001, Florida school systems were already grappling with the state-mandated A-Plus Accountability Program enactedin 2000. As was true in many other states, Florida’s “A-Plus” legislation measure school effectiveness through a standardized test: the FloridaComprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). A central feature of the policy...

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5. CONTEXT AND COLLABORATION: Growing the Work in New Jersey

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pp. 93-117

This book opened with the declaration that teachers’ professional learning communities offer one of the more promising prospects for improving schools. At the same time, it was acknowledged that there are few road maps for just how that might happen. This chapter relates the stories of three districts in New Jersey supported financially, developmentally, and conceptually by the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation to...

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6. DEEPENING THE WORK: Promise and Perils of Collaborative Inquiry

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pp. 119-148

There is a widening consensus that the quality of students’ educational experiences has everything to do with the quality of their teachers. While opinions differ about how to ensure “quality,” most of those writing about improving schools agree that top-quality teachers know how to craft engaging, effective learning experiences for students despite shifting demographic, social, and economic conditions. Because...

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7. WHAT’S TO NOT LIKE ABOUT PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES?

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pp. 149-165

Afood-loving friend of mine once said about fudge, “Sugar, chocolate, butter—what’s to not like?” Likewise, we might say, about the concept of professional learning communities: collaboration, an inquiry orientation, an intention to help teachers and students learn—what’s to not like? Indeed, the phrase “professional learning communities”(PLCs) has assumed an honored place in the current jargon of education...

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8. A LOOK TO THE FUTURE

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pp. 167-179

Throughout this book, the authors have scrutinized learning communities in action, weighed the relative hospitality of their local contexts, and raised questions about their viability and potential. They have depicted learning communities as faltering in the face of serious obstacles and pressing demands, but they have also described scenarios in which these communities seem to be thriving...

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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pp. 181-183

DICK CORBETT is an independent educational researcher who spends his time studying school reform, primarily in low-income settings. Recent projects include examining efforts funded by the Benwood, NEA, Osborne, Lyndhurst, and Public Education Foundations to raise student achievement at all levels of the Hamilton County, Tennessee...

INDEX

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pp. 185-190


E-ISBN-13: 9781438430621
E-ISBN-10: 1438430620
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438430614
Print-ISBN-10: 1438430612

Page Count: 204
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1
Series Title: SUNY series, Restructuring and School Change
Series Editor Byline: H. Dickson Corbett, Betty Lou Whitford