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THE ROLE OF PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS IN TRUE PLCS

EDU 600, Teacher as Leader: Module Seven


Choice Two: The Role of Principals and Teachers in True PLCs
August 15, 2012
Caitlin Piper
University of New England

THE ROLE OF PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS IN TRUE PLCS

The Role of Principals and Teachers in True PLCs


According to DuFour, DuFour, and Eaker (2008), Clarity and specificity about the essence of
their main task are the hallmarks of effective leaders (p. 308). Both principal and leader must assume
leadership roles in establishing a true Professional Learning Community (PLC) (DuFour et al., 2008).
The principal strives to structure productive, standard-based, well-planned activities for PLCs for
school staff, while the teacher does the same in his or her individual classroom through the creation of
student PLCs (Jackson & Davis, 2000). To serve as a true PLC leader, teachers and principals must be
committed to determining areas in need of development and taking specific actions to contribute to the
continuous improvement of instruction, school practices and the growth of student achievement
(Jackson & Davis, 2000).
In my school, teachers demonstrate strong PLC skills through their enforcement of rigorous
student expectations. Teachers need a framework of school goals and expectations thoroughly
explained and enforced by their principal (DuFour et al., 2008). Once students understand school-wide
goals, teachers must explore and develop methods to present students with clear, level appropriate
objectives for learning in the classroom (DuFour et al., 2008). These learning goals should be presented
through a student appropriate language and created with careful consideration of school-wide goals,
learning opportunities, and methods to assess the students' achievement of these goals (DuFour et al.,
2008). Teachers should encourage students to monitor their own growth in meeting the course
objectives (DuFour et al., 2008). Principals can enhance and enforce these goals by monitoring student
and teacher success and by providing opportunities for achievement incentives for both teachers and
students (Dufour et al., 2008). According to Jackson and Davis (2000), principals are responsible for
devoting time and assistance to teachers to develop strong methods of instruction to produce high
student performance.
Principals and teachers must contribute to building a positive academic environment for

THE ROLE OF PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS IN TRUE PLCS

students and staff (DuFour et al., 2008). To fulfill this role, principals and teachers must accept an equal
position as a team member in PLCs. According to Hord (1997), ...administrators along with teachers,
must be learners too, questioning, investigating, and seeking solutions (p. 393) for school
improvement (p. 2). Regardless of one's status in the school, everyone must work together to inquire
and apply strategies to enhance the school as a whole.
In my experience, I have found that principals take an active role in meeting their professional
expectations through making themselves present. Every day the principal and assistant principals greet
and say goodbye to students at the door as they are arriving and departing from school. These actions
allow for staff and students to view the principal as approachable and caring. It also assists the principal
in monitoring student behavior at a less-structured time of the school day where students may be
inclined to make poor decisions. Other positive behavior exhibited by my principal include holding
students to high academic standards, closely observing students' progress with assessments such as the
SATs, completing teacher observations, and encouraging teachers to seek out professional development
opportunities. All of these actions strengthen our school's ability to function as a true PLC.
One recommendation for all staff to promote a true PLC involves improving the protection of
instructional time. There are several events such as individual class plays, schedule changes,
assemblies, testing, etc. that interfere with time otherwise reserved for class. Typically teachers are
given little notice regarding these events. Teachers holding events outside of the classroom also fail to
communicate these activities to administration in advance. This miscommunication often interferes
with planning and creates confusion for both teachers and students. Clear and frequent communication
between teachers and administration helps school activities to run smoothly.
Both teacher and principal play a valuable role in boosting the effectiveness of classroom and
school PLCs. Each must serve as a leader and equal group member depending on the type of PLC.
Daily efforts must be made by all educators to ensure a successful PLC.

THE ROLE OF PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS IN TRUE PLCS

References
DuFour, R., DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (2008). Revisiting professional learning communities at work:
New insights for improving schools. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree
Hord, S. M. (1997). Professional learning communities: What are they and why are they important?.
Issues about change, 6(1), Retrieved from http://www.sedl.org/change/issues/issues61.html
Jackson, A. W., & Davis, G. A. (2000). Turning points 2000: Educating adolescents in the 21st century.
New York, NY: Teachers College Press