Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
School districts in a southeastern state have faced the challenge of choosing an effective professional development model that assists teachers in improving student achievement. Some school districts have implemented professional learning communities (PLCs) as a means of addressing teachers' professional development. Guided by the social learning theories of Bandura, Vygotsky, and Wenger, the research questions focused on teachers' perceptions of the use of PLC experiences for making classroom decisions and their value for enhancing teacher learning, teacher collaboration, and student learning. Data for this case study were collected from 7 certified elementary teachers in 1 school who had participated in PLCs for 2 years. Interview data were coded and reviewed for common themes and patterns. The results of this study revealed that teachers perceived there was not enough time for teacher collaboration and teacher learning built into the activities and structure of the current PLC at the study site. The findings from this study were used to create a 3-day training session for local teachers on how to structure and function in a PLC environment. The sessions include training for grade-level chairpersons and professional development sessions for grade-level teams of teachers. The project will give the elementary teachers in this school meaningful opportunities to positively affect their own and students' learning and share learned practices and skills with other teachers in the district. Achieving social change at a larger level is possible as this professional development opportunity with a focus on teacher and student learning can serve as a model for other schools in the district.