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Teach what? Test what?: practices of a newly formed collaborative team working in a professional learning community

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This study was designed to capture the conversations and practices of seven educators who navigate teaching and learning decisions in their Title 1 elementary school. This case study was conducted to answer the research question, "What are the behaviors and

This study was designed to capture the conversations and practices of seven educators who navigate teaching and learning decisions in their Title 1 elementary school. This case study was conducted to answer the research question, "What are the behaviors and practices of a newly formed collaborative team of educators working within a professional learning community (PLC)?" In order to understand how this collaborative team worked together, data was collected through a survey, interviews, focus group discussion and questionnaire, observations of collaborative team meetings and artifacts generated from the team's work. The findings revealed that (1) participants spent the majority of their collaborative team time focusing on how to best prepare students for district and state standardized assessments; (2) teachers described themselves as learners who look to their colleagues to enhance their knowledge and skills; (3) members of PLCs need dedicated collaborative time to ensure all students and adults in the organization learn at high levels; (4) discussing and using student learning data can be difficult; (5) educators gravitate to colleagues who have similar philosophies and beliefs and (6) PLCs need supportive district, school and teacher leadership to accomplish their goals. This research study provides validation that the PLC process is a complex process of professional development designed to support school reform in an era of increased school accountability. The recommendations for school leaders are to create supportive leadership structures that allow all students opportunities to learn, build trusting environments, and provide clarity and focus of the vision for all stakeholders. District leadership needs to establish a priority for PLC work by embedding the processes in the vision, mission and goals of the district, examine policies to ensure they support the concepts of PLCs, provide access to resources and create a forum for critical conversations about teaching and learning. Policy makers need to ask the right questions so that they can design appropriate accountability systems that encourage collaboration.

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Date Created
2011

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Neighborhood development and school-community partnerships: the case of Barrio Promesa

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This study explores community development initiatives and school-community partnerships that took place during the period 1998 - 2010 in Barrio Promesa, a Hispanic immigrant neighborhood within a large metropolitan area of the South Western United States. More specifically, it examines

This study explores community development initiatives and school-community partnerships that took place during the period 1998 - 2010 in Barrio Promesa, a Hispanic immigrant neighborhood within a large metropolitan area of the South Western United States. More specifically, it examines the initiatives and partnerships carried out through three main sectors of social actors: a) elected officials, public administrators and their agencies of the city; b) the neighborhood elementary school and school district administration; and c) civil society inclusive of non-profit agencies, faith-based organizations and businesses entities. This study is bounded by the initiation of development efforts by the city on the front end. The neighborhood school complex became the center of educational and social outreach anchoring nearly all collaborations and interventions. Over time agents, leadership and alliances changed impacting the trajectory of development initiatives and school community partnerships. External economic and political forces undermined development efforts which led to a fragmentation and dismantling of initiatives and collaborations in the later years of the study. Primary threads in the praxis of community development and school-community partnerships are applied in the analysis of initiatives, as is the framework of social capital in understanding partnerships within the development events. Specific criteria for analysis included leadership, collaboration, inclusivity, resources, and sustainability. Tensions discovered include: 1) intra-agency conflict, 2) program implementation, 3) inter-agency collaboration, 4) private-public-nonprofit partnerships, and 5) the impact of public policy in the administration of public services. Actors' experiences weave a rich tapestry composed of the essential threads of compassion and resilience in their transformative human agency at work within the global urban gateway of Barrio Promesa. Summary, conclusions and recommendations include: 1) strategies for the praxis of community development, inclusive of establishing neighborhood based development agency and leadership; 2) community development initiative in full partnership with the neighborhood school; 3) the impact of global migration on local development practices; and 4) the public value of personal and civil empowerment as a fundamental strategy in community development practices, given the global realities of many urban neighborhoods throughout the United States, and globally.

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2014