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Building and Connecting Learning Communities

Building and Connecting Learning Communities
The Power of Networks for School Improvement

Edited by:
  • Steven Katz - Director, Aporia Consulting Ltd. and Faculty Member, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto
  • Lorna M. Earl - University of Toronto, Canada
  • Sonia Ben Jaafar - Assistant to the Researcher in Residence, Ontario Ministry of Education, Ontario Ministry of Education

September 2009 | 136 pages | Corwin

"Taking your school from great to greater—this compelling book gives you tools to use with staff for reflecting on and refining professional practices. You and your team will find tools for taking learners to the next level of improvement!"
—Lynn A. Kaszynski, Principal
Harrison Street Elementary School, Sunbury, OH

Networked learning communities: A powerful school improvement strategy for school leaders!

Ideal for school leaders and superintendents leading change efforts, this book describes how separate professional learning communities can be linked across schools by common instructional and learning issues to create dynamic networked learning communities (NLCs). Drawing on their work with schools throughout North America and England, Steven Katz, Lorna M. Earl, and Sonia Ben Jaafar show how participants in NLCs can share professional knowledge that ultimately improves performance at the school and district level.

Through a sample school narrative, the book illustrates how NLCs can significantly enhance instruction, increase student performance, and empower local professional learning communities. This resource examines:

  • Collaborative inquiry as a process that challenges teachers' thinking, generates new learning, and fosters trusting relationships
  • The development of formal and informal leadership roles in NLCs
  • How NLCs support systematic data analysis and accountability

Demonstrating how NLCs—small or large, local or statewide—can promote critical reforms while strengthening the work of individual professional learning communities, this invaluable resource reveals how educators can join forces across school and district boundaries to generate deep, meaningful, and sustainable change.

About the Authors
1. Why Networks? Why Now?
It’s About Learning

Networks: A Powerful Organizational Tool

Time for Reflection

2. How Networked Learning Communities Work
What Are Networked Learning Communities?

How NLCs Work: The Theory of Action

Using NLCs to Focus Local PLCs

The Anatomy of a NLC: A Refined Theory of Action

Time for Reflection

3. Establishing a Clear and Defensible Focus
Focus Foremost

Evidence-Based Focus

From a School Focus to a Network Focus

Time for Reflection

4. Collaborative Inquiry to Challenge Thinking and Practice
The Importance of Relationships

From Inquiry to an Inquiry Habit of Mind

From Relationships to Deep Collaboration

Getting to Powerful Collaborative Inquiry

Time for Reflection

5. Leadership in Networked Professional Learning Communities
Roles of Formal Leaders

Roles of Informal Leaders

Time for Reflection

6. From Student Learning to Teacher Learning
Towards Focused Collaborative Inquiry

Collaborative Inquiry for Teacher Leaders

Within-School Focused Professional Learning: Collaborative Inquiry for Teachers

Time for Reflection

7. Using the Network to Support Professional Learning for Leaders
Collaborative Inquiry and Focused Learning for Leaders

Using Critical Friends to Promote Inquiry and Focus Efforts

From Collaborative Inquiry to Instructional Leadership Actions

Time for Reflection

8. Sustaining Networked Learning Communities
Sustaining Collective Understanding

Sustaining Professional Learning

Sustaining and Broadening Leadership

Sustaining Powerful Networked Learning Communities

Time for Reflection


"Taking your school from great to greater—to get there, this compelling book gives you tools to use with staff for reflecting on and refining your professional practices. It provides you and your team with effective options for taking learners to the next level of improvement."

Lynn A. Kaszynski, Principal
Harrison Street Elementary School, Sunbury, OH

Used the following text:
Davis, J. A. (1985). The logic of causal order. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Dr Tirupalavanam Ganesh
School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, Arizona State University - Tempe
September 26, 2011
Key features
  • Details a process for cultivating the conditions for knowledge creation and sharing in relation to an identified needs-based focus
  • Identifies a set of key enablers at both the school and network levels that have been found to be influential in enhancing classroom practice and improving student learning and achievement
  • Illustrates how these key enablers can be intentionally developed at both the school and network levels, and how both units—school and network—can be strengthened through their relationship to one another
  • Develops a running narrative of a single school's place and interactions within a networked learning community to illustrate the inner-workings of NLC development

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452272726

ISBN: 9781412966016

ISBN: 9781412966009

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