American educators are provided with far less time to improve their professional practice than their international counterparts, often experience professional development in short and disjointed ways, and work in systems whose structures too frequently isolate them from the practice of their colleagues. Professional learning communities (PLCs), however, recognize that improved teacher learning is essential to improved student learning and thus create structures which engage educators in regular, job-embedded, collaborative action research directly tied to their individual teaching contexts. However little is known about the specific feedback which educators in PLCs provide and the ways in which various feedback loops in educational systems assist in improving teacher practice. How does feedback made available through a PLC model impact the practice of teachers and administrators? This phenomenological study utilized a pre/post design to explore the role of feedback in the lives of two administrators and eight high school English educators at a central Wisconsin high school. The findings discuss the ways in which participants gave and received feedback prior to their involvement in PLCs and how feedback changed as their school and district adopted a PLC model. The study identified five major themes: 1) the need to build trust to encourage an open sharing of practice; 2) reduced isolation, improved collaboration and increases in the amount of and teachers' desire for additional feedback; 3) a shift from covering content to assessing student learning through instructionally-sensitive data sources; 4) the need to consider feedback and power implications when mandating structures, increasing transparency and enhancing accountability so as to improve feedback and reduce frustration; and 5) critical considerations in systemic structures including fostering collaboration, making feedback meaningful, and addressing the key issue of time. The study concludes with recommendations for teachers, administrators, district policy makers and researchers, pointing to ways in which those working in educational systems can develop feedback structures which heighten teacher learning.
University of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. October 2012. Major:Teaching and Learning. Advisor: Dr. Susan Damme. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 195 pages, appendices A-I.
Roloff, David Jonathon.
Feedback in professional learning communities: exploring teachers’ and administrators’ experiences and implications for building systemic and sustained learning.
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