Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Joan Gipe


The purpose of this study was to explore the essence of professional learning experiences shared by teachers who participated in a professional learning community (PLC) at a New York City high school in the South Bronx. Guided by Hord's PLC characteristics and Bruner's constructivism theories, this phenomenological study addressed the research questions of what PLC practices urban high school teachers employ to support the academic-literacy achievement of their students of low social economic status (SES); the role of administration in the PLC process; and the roles of a shared mission, values, vision, norms, and collaborative knowledge on the functioning of the PLC. Data collected from the 6 PLC teachers included semi-structured individual interviews, observations of PLC meetings over a 2-month period, participating teacher reflective journal entries, and a researcher's log. Manual data analysis consisted of reading raw data multiple times to determine patterns, themes, and relationships. Additionally, concept and descriptive coding approaches facilitated data source analysis. Gerund words and short phrases generated labels and categories that resulted symbolic representation. The results were that the urban high school teachers demonstrated Hord's PLC characteristics and Bruner's constructivism theories within their PLC's practices and principles leading to decision-making and solutions to problems such as improving teachers' literacy practices, students' literacy skills and classroom behavior, and school wide Individualized Educational Plan process. The findings of this study support the engagement of urban high school teachers in self-directed PLC activities that may promote social change by improving literacy instruction and literacy achievement among students of low SES.