Exploring Teacher Perceptions About Professional Learning Communities: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study
Teaching is a profession that influences the lives of future generations and is sometimes viewed as an isolated profession. Many teachers are ill-equipped with the skills, tools, and environment to collaborate with a team to improve student achievement. Professional learning communities (PLCs) were designed to mitigate the isolated environment for teachers. After reviewing the literature on PLCs, there are few studies addressing teacher perceptions. Studies showed a gap in the literature about what teachers know about PLCs. This qualitative phenomenological study helped fill the literature gap by gaining insight and understanding about teachers' experiences and perceptions of PLCs. The study will assist educational leaders and provide tools to support teachers working in a PLC. The adult learning and transformational leadership theories guided the study. The qualitative phenomenological study aimed to effectively understand teachers' perceptions, skills, and tools needed to participate in a PLC. The following questions guided the study: What are teachers' experiences who participate in a PLC, and what are the perceptions of teachers who participate in a PLC? Twenty teachers were purposefully sampled from a pool of 2,000 teachers in a Phoenix school district. The responses gathered from participants indicated both positive and negative experiences with PLCs. The shared experiences were compiled into five themes: (a) communication/collaboration, (b) team structure, (c) leadership, (d) PLC challenges, and (e) data usage. Instructional leaders can devise a PLC plan utilizing these teachers' experiences and perceived challenges. A recommendation for future research should include teachers from similar surrounding school districts. Keywords: professional learning communities, teacher perceptions, shared vision and values, collective learning, shared personal practice, supportive leadership, and conditions.