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Utilizing Professional Learning Communities as a Vehicle for Equity: Administrators Roles and Perceptions


Numerous studies have found that students of color are often subject to teacher biases or negative preconceptions. These biases often result in barriers and limitations that negatively impact students’ academic achievement and social and emotional development. Studies have also documented the impact of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in transforming school culture and implementing school-wide change. However, few studies have looked at how bias and issues of equity are addressed via PLCs. Using qualitative methods, this study examined district and site level administrators’ roles and perceptions of the use of PLCs as a vehicle for achieving school-wide goals of equity. Interview data gathered from 17 site and district level administrators in one district were analyzed for this study. This study used Transformative Adult Learning (TAL) as a lens to examine administrator perceptions of how PLCs facilitated a change in the narrative from one that focuses on blaming students for underachievement to one that focuses on teacher practices and pedagogy that supports all students. All administrators in this study reported that moving a staff and shifting teacher belief systems was challenging. This was especially the case when staff did not fully understand the purpose of the work of the PLCs, how to effectively lead or engage in a PLC, and/or lacked trust and positive working relationships. At the same time, each site administrator was able to identify PLCs within their schools that were making steady progress toward achieving the goals of equity. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

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