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Schools as Professional Learning Communities

Schools as Professional Learning Communities
Collaborative Activities and Strategies for Professional Development

Second Edition
Edited by:

Foreword by Susan Sullivan

September 2008 | 272 pages | Corwin

"Roberts and Pruitt offer practical advice to educators who seek to address one of the greatest obstacles to creating effective schools: how to get school staff to collaborate and learn from each other. Their insights and suggestions are smart, useful, and demonstrate a genuine understanding of how schools work."
—Pedro A. Noguera, Executive Director
Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, New York University

Your one-stop sourcebook for building a professional learning community in your school!

More and more educational leaders are turning to the collaborative learning community model to create school change and improvement. This practical resource offers research-based activities and strategies for providing professional learning opportunities that lead to the building of community in schools as well as improved learning outcomes for both teachers and students.

Ideal for school leaders and staff developers, this updated bestseller examines the knowledge and skills needed to become a successful leader of learners and provides helpful tips, real-life classroom vignettes, and insights into effective teamwork. The authors help administrators lead staff in:

  • Learning through study groups, shared leadership, and professional portfolios
  • Performing collaborative student assessments and classroom observation
  • Reexamining their beliefs and assumptions through reflective activities

With the latest information on e-portfolios, coaching, emotional intelligence, and more, this proven professional development approach gives leaders the tools they need to implement a culture of collaboration that can transform entire schools!

Foreword by Susan Sullivan
About the Authors
1. The Professional Learning Community: An Overview
Preview of the Chapter

What is a learning community?

What are the characteristics of a learning community?

What is the role of the learning community in an age of accountability?

What are the key elements of the school improvement framework for learning community schools?

How is student achievement affected by the learning community model?

How are teachers affected by the learning community?

How do refelection and reflective practice contribute to the building of learning communities?


Making It Work


2. Learning Through Shared Leadership
What are the roles of educational leaders in a learning community?

What steps must a principal take to develop a shared mission and vision?

What strategies can educational leaders use to communicate and sustain the vision?

What about emotional intelligence and leadership?

How do principals build the trust that contributes to improved student achievement?

What communication skills do leaders need to successfully lead learning communities?

What do leaders need to know about the change process?

How do you begin the process of building a learning community?


Making It Work


3. Learning Through Ongoing Professional Development
What are the guiding principles for professional development in learning communities?

What strategies meet the needs of adults as learners?

How can we find enough time for professional development?

How do we assess the effectiveness of professional development?

How do we get started with professional development?


Making It Work


4. Learning Through Teamwork
How can we overcome barriers to effective teamwork?

What behaviors promote effective teamwork?

What are the stages of group development?

How may conflict among team members be effectively managed?

What are effective ways for teams to make decisions?

How should meetings be conducted to promote team development in learning communities?


Making It Work


5. Learning Through Study Groups
What is a study group?

What are the purposes and benefits of study groups for a community of learners?

How do you initiate a study group?

How can teacher book study groups be planned and conducted?


Making it Work

6. Learning Through Classroom Observation
What is the purpose of classroom observation?

How does the standards-based walk-through for teachers contribute to a culture of collaborative instruction?

How does conferencing with teachers set the stage for the calssroom observation process?

How does clinical supervision improve learning and foster collaboration?

What about the observation of the differentiated classroom?


Making it Work


7. Learning Through Collaborative Approaches
How may issues of equity and diversity be addressed in a collaborative learning community?

What is the role of collaboration in the learning community?

How do mentoring and coaching enhance the learning community?

How does collaborative assessment of student work build learning communities?

How may we collaborate with parents in the learning community?


Making It Work


8. Learning Through Professional Portfolios
What is the role of professional portfolios in the learning community?

What goes into a professional portfolio?

How do you get started developing the portfolio?

How should the portfolio be organized?

What about electronic portfolios?

How may the portfolio be evaluated?

What strategies support the development and use of portfolios in the learning community?


Making it Work


9. Sustaining the Professional Learning Community
How do we sustain a culture that supports a collaborative approach to improving instructional practice and student outcomes?

How do we sustain the structures that support learning community schools?

What must we do to maintain the focus on continuous student learning that characterizes learning communities?

How do we maintain a focus on the school's mission and shared vision statements that stress student achievement?

What steps must be taken to ensure that shared leadership is sustained in learning community schools?


Making It Work



Well designed and aligned with the goals of the course. Students found this book applicable outside of class.

Dr Amy Burkman
School Of Education, University of Texas - Permian Basin
September 8, 2011
Key features
  • Combines authors' experience as teachers, principals, and staff developers
  • Includes learning activities throughout (case study analysis, role plays, development of group skills)
  • Features boxed tips for leaders in every chapter
  • Presents a proven, successful professional development approach

For instructors

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