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Search the Ashford University Library databases for two articles discussing the benefits of a professional learning community to school culture and examine Figure 2 of your text, Differentiated Instructional Strategies in Practice: Training, Implementation, and Supervision. Using this research, design a professional development plan for your school that will positively impact school culture. In a three- to five-page paper, discuss the following:
(I have already uploaded the information so you do not have to worry about the Ashford library....)

Summarize your research and the research in Figure 2 (Joyce & Showers, 1995).
How is this research applicable to your work setting?- (already uploaded the information)
Discuss the professional development plan that you have created.
How will this plan benefit school culture?
Integrate the research you have found on professional development and include appropriate references within your discussion.
(you can google professional development plan to get a better understanding).
Professional Development and Research-Research Information.docx

Article 1
Dickerson, Mark S. Researchers World2. 2 (Apr 2011): 25-36.
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This article reviews the benefits of a collaborative school culture, including reduced teacher
isolation, social and emotional support, opportunities for professional development and learning,
and closer ties with significant stakeholders, such as families and community organizations.
While collaborative cultures may be powerful, they also may be either misguided or superficial.
Further, cultural change is difficult and norms such as teacher isolation and autonomy are well
entrenched. These concerns point to the need for a change process that has a positive focus, is
essentially self-organizing, encourages deep reflection, and avoids the pitfalls of manipulation by
school administrators. This analysis points to consideration of appreciative inquiry, a strengthsbased process that builds on 'the best of what is' in an organization. The second portion of the
article reports on the impact that an appreciative inquiry process had on building a collaborative
culture in 22 schools located in British Columbia, Canada and reflects on its strengths and
limitations. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT] Full Text
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This article reviews the benefits of a collaborative school culture, including reduced teacher
isolation, social and emotional support, opportunities for professional development and learning,
and closer ties with significant stakeholders, such as families and community organizations.
While collaborative cultures may be powerful, they also may be either misguided or superficial.
Further, cultural change is difficult and norms such as teacher isolation and autonomy are well
These concerns point to the need for a change process that has a positive focus, is essentially
self-organizing, encourages deep reflection, and avoids the pitfalls of manipulation by school
administrators. This analysis points to consideration of appreciative inquiry, a strengths-based
process that builds on 'the best of what is' in an organization. The second portion of the article
reports on the impact that an appreciative inquiry process had on building a collaborative culture
in 22 schools located in British Columbia, Canada and reflects on its strengths and limitations.
Keywords: appreciative inquiry, collaboration, school culture, school change
One of the strands of educational reform movements in the last two decades has been the call for
greater collaborative efforts, both among educators as well as with parents, students and the
surrounding community (Hargreaves, 1994; James, Dunning, Connolly, & Elliott, 2007;
Rosenholtz, 1989). Educational researcher Hargreaves (1994) referred to collaboration as an 'articulating and integrating principle' (p. 245) for school improvement, providing a way for
teachers to learn from each other, gain moral support, coordinate action, and reflect on their
classroom practices, their values, and the meaning of their work. Hargreaves argued that in some
contexts 'collaboration replaces false scientific certainties or debilitating occupational
uncertainties with the situated certainties of collected professional wisdom among particular
communities of teachers' (p. 246).
One of the reasons that researchers such as Hargreaves promote collaborative efforts among
teachers is to reduce levels of teacher isolation so that teachers can share professional practices
and have occasion to observe each other in the classroom or discuss their work (Lortie, 1975). In
the ordinary course, a typical school structure provides little in the way of teacher interaction
except for time spent in administrative committees or brief interchanges in a teachers' lounge
(Rosenholtz, 1989; Lortie, 1975; Little, 1990a). Darling-Hammond (1990) illustrated the extent
of teacher isolation in her record of this statement made by a high school teacher with 20 years
experience: 'I have taught 20,000 classes; I have been evaluated 30 times; but I have never seen
another teacher teach' (p. 40).
Studies have indicated that the opportunity for teachers to be engaged with each other and share
their experience, provided them with much needed emotional support, made them feel affirmed
as worthy professionals, increased their ability to apply new teaching methods and materials,
allowed them to train each other, provided them with a greater perspective of the entire school
system, and made them more accepting of diverse perspectives (Cunningham, 1994; Little,
1990b; Nias, 1999).
A collaborative culture is also important to undergird efforts at school improvement. Nias (2005)
contends a teacher's relationships with colleagues has significant impact on the teacher's
professional development by providing (or failing to provide) technical and emotional support, a
reference group with whom the teacher can identify, the scope and incentive to grow
professionally and the opportunity to influence others.
Interaction among educators can also lead to collaborative efforts of a special kind, known as
professional learning communities or 'teacher learning communities' which McLaughlin and
Talbert (2001) defined as 'teachers' joint efforts to generate new knowledge of practice and their
mutual support of each others' professional growth' (p. 75). These networks of teachers seek to
provide educators with a sense of personal efficacy and responsibility and a forum for critical
reflection and professional development (DuFour & Eaker, 1998; James et al., 2007; Lieberman
& Miller, 2007), and may also improve practice, encourage innovation, open participants to
change, and create a collective vision (McLaughlin & Talbert, 1993; Rosenholtz, 1989).
Collaborative school cultures are not only characterized by close relationships among educators,
they also feature close ties to families and the surrounding community. In their review of
research studies on partnerships between schools, families and communities in 20 nations,
Sanders and Epstein (2005) found the success of schools is heavily influenced by connections
between school, family and community. They noted that 'students who receive support from
home, family and community are triply benefitted, and are more likely to be academically
successful than those who do not' (p. 215).
Partnerships among stakeholders provide opportunities to share resources, such as personnel,
expertise, and facilities, address issues that go beyond the scope of one individual or organization, and engage all of the stakeholders who have a role to play in supporting student
learning (Huxham, 1996; Tett et al., 2001; Wilson & Pirrie, 2000).
While research supports the benefits of a collaborative school culture, it also paints a complex
picture and care is needed to distinguish studies based on the context and type of collaborative
effort involved (Hargreaves, 1994). Collaboration can take place in a number of configurations
and has multiple meanings. The content of relationships can range from 'story-swapping'
between colleagues to joint work, with work ranging from the superficial to groundbreaking
projects (Little, 1990a). Not all of these collaborative efforts will accomplish the goals outlined
above, particularly if the participants feel pressured to participate or are not compatible.
Further, the relationships developed through increased teacher interaction may be cooperative or
filled with conflict; opposing conflicting perspectives, philosophies and beliefs between partners
can raise divisions and conflicts that would otherwise lay dormant (Achinstein, 2002). Moreover,
collaboration requires some surrender of control by each party, and at the same time, requires the
investment of time and other significant resources, with no guarantee of the outcome
(Achinstein, 2002; Hargreaves, 1994; Lima, 2001). Partnerships that go beyond collegial
relationships between teachers working at the same grade level in the same school are difficult to
organize around boundaries of schedule, location, discipline, grade levels, and organizational
structures (Wood, 2007; Little, 2002; McLaughlin & Talbert, 2001).
For educators, partnerships take time away from students and other responsibilities, run the risk
of unrealistic expectations or differences regarding the goals of the collaboration (Huxham,
1996), require significant skills in group dynamics, conflict management, and communication on
the part of those leading the collaboration and depend upon significant administrative support
and resources (Tett, Crowther & O'Hara, 2003).
In order to overcome these challenges explicit efforts at building community are needed in order
to achieve success (Wenger, 1998; Wood, 2007). At the same time, the collaboration cannot be
contrived. Coercing participation not only causes conflict, but reduces the effectiveness of the
learning community (Wood, 2007; Hargreaves, 1991). Further, if administrators co-opt the
agenda of the learning community to perform assessment work or other tasks, their actions can
undermine trust and cause participants to see the learning community as a tool of the
administration (Wood, 2007).
School leaders must also recognize that collaboration, for collaboration's sake, is no panacea.
Fullan (2001) observed that the focus of the collaborative culture makes a significant difference:
'Collaborative cultures, which by definition have close relationships, are indeed powerful, but
unless they are focusing on the right things they may end up powerfully wrong' (p. 67). As Little
pointed out (1990a), a strong collaborative culture can merely serve to solidify the status quo.
'Bluntly put, do we have in teachers' collaborative work the creative development of wellinformed choices, or the mutual reinforcement of poorly informed habit?' (p. 525).
Furthermore, efforts to make collaborative working relationships a pervasive feature of school
life will likely bump up against school culture. Schools, like other organizations, strongly resist
changes to the deeply held beliefs, practices and norms that determine 'the way we do things
around here' (Deal & Kennedy, 1982; Schein, 2004). While cultures differ between schools and
may include a variety of subcultures, the prevalent norms for teachers in most schools in North
America and Britain are those of privacy and autonomy (Little, 1990a). These norms are
reinforced and supported through the structures such as the organization of time during the school day and individual teacher control in the classroom. As Hargreaves (1994) notes,
'collegiality in the secondary school work culture may require modification to the subjectspecialist, departmentalized curriculum that currently isolates teachers from many of their
colleagues ....' (p. 256).
Resistance to a cultural change may occur for a variety of political or psychological reasons.
Politically, a change in culture may threaten the values and norms favored by the school's
opinion leaders or disrupt the allocation of valuable resources such as time, budget or status.
Psychologically, human beings do not lightly revise their fundamental assumptions on how
things should be done in the workplace-they tend to seek predictability and a stable identity
(Marris, 1986). Teachers and support staff may become anxious about their ability to adapt to
new practices and learn new skills. They may also bring with them memories of negative past
experiences with change interventions where efforts to modify the school culture were poorly
managed. In addition, if their way of thinking provides them with an identity at school, they may
be reluctant to adopt a new way of thinking.
Needless to say, transforming the culture of a school involves more than the introduction of a
new program or structure. It requires the educators who work there to adopt new values,
perspectives and assumptions (Schein, 2004). As Fullan (2001) observed, "Reculturing is a
contact sport that involves hard, labor-intensive work. It takes time and it never ends" (p. 44). In
addition to the other difficulties noted in establishing a positive collaborative culture, Richert,
Stoddard and Kass (2001) noted the difficulty in developing an inclusive process that captures all
of the different stakeholder voices and manages the barriers of time, language, culture, and
ideology. They reported that multiple perspectives are both essential to new learning, but also
generate conflict and threaten some with a loss of control. Nevertheless, the partnerships that
Richert, et al., facilitated gave participants an opportunity to dialogue with colleagues about the
challenges they face. They were able 'to talk about the hard, deep issues [they] have wanted to
talk about all of their professional lives, but didn't know how.' (p. 153).
School leaders seeking to shape school culture must first have a firm grasp of the current culture
and its core values, including an understanding of the environmental context and its stage of
development. Clearly they must have in mind the type and extent of the change they desire-e.g.,
transformational vs. evolutionary change. They must provide the resources and structures
necessary to support the desired culture, as well as 'fashion a positive context' for change
(Hargreaves, 1994; Peterson & Deal, 1998). However, while skilled leadership is critical to
modifying cultures (Fullan, 2001), leaders alone cannot mandate or implement a change in
culture. As Bate (1994) notes: 'Cultures are produced interactively and are therefore changed
interactively' (p. 40).
In searching for a process that avoids the dangers of coercion or manipulation, is essentially selforganizing, is based on opportunities to reflect and share, can generate new ways of thinking and
provides the space and purpose for collaborative efforts, school leaders should consider the use
of Appreciative Inquiry. AI has been described as 'the cooperative search for the best in people,
their organizations, and the world around them' (Ludema, Whitney, Mohr & Griffin, 2003).
Rather than provide a process for diagnosing and then 'curing' the ills of an organization, AI
focuses on its positive core and inspires participants to co-create their preferred future by
building on past and present success. While AI is a flexible process, it generally occurs in four
phases: (1) a discovery phase during which participants explore "the best of what is" through
responding to interview questions that reveal the positive core of the organization; (2) a dream phase in which participants build on the themes developed from the discovery phase to imagine
the future; (3) a design phase, during which participants construct positive "possibility"
statements that capture the participants' vision for the future; and (4) a destiny phase in which
participants develop detailed action plans to turn their vision into a reality. The positive nature of
the AI process engenders positive emotions such as optimism, hope, gratitude and pride which in
turn can generate the energy for change.
Barrett and Fry (2005) noted that AI provides relational spaces where individuals who have
never met before can develop a relationship around their shared stories and co-creation of an
imagined future. They contended that AI enhances the "cooperative capacity" of a group.
McNamee (2003) found some support for this contention that Appreciative Inquiry can increase
"cooperative capacity" in a school in her evaluation of a department in a private high school. She
discovered that her use of Appreciative Inquiry led to a greater level collegiality among the
educators and launched an ongoing dialogue among teachers in the department regarding their
professional beliefs and practices. Other researchers have also found that the use of appreciative
inquiry enabled organizations dealing with significant change to develop more collegial working
relationships (White-Zappa, 2001; Whitney & Trosten-Bloom, 2001).
In order to further the exploration of processes designed to increase collegial relationships and
collaborative efforts in schools, this paper describes the collaborative aspects of an Appreciative
Inquiry process involving 22 schools operated by the Vancouver School Board (VSB) in British
The Vancouver School Board is a large multicultural urban school district located in North
America with over 100 schools and 57,000 students. In order to provide teachers, parents,
students and community members with an opportunity to shape the future of the District and to
provide a more positive focus for dialogue rather than the debate over high stakes standardized
testing, the VSB Superintendent and school board launched an Appreciative Inquiry initiative in
January 2006 that focused on engaging adolescent student learners.
In response to an open invitation from the district office, 22 of the VSB primary, secondary and
adult education schools volunteered to participate and self-organized into 8 groups for
participating in the process. Some schools elected to create their own AI site while others
collaborated with nearby schools. Each site selected one or more teachers to serve as its site
coordinator, and other teachers, administrators, support staff, students, and parents were invited
to serve on the site coordinating teams.
The VSB organized the discovery phase over a period of several weeks during the winter and
spring of 2006 and condensed the other three phases into a two-day summit for each site in late
spring. Each of the summits involved up to 100 parents, students, teachers, administrators,
support staff, district personnel and local community organizations in the process.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to describe all of the outcomes of the VSB AI initiative;
however, virtually all of the site team members reported that a very valuable benefit of the
Appreciative Inquiry process was the new connections that they made with colleagues, students,
parents, community organizations and other stakeholders. They noted that AI contributed to the
process of building a collaborative culture in the participating schools by:
* Providing the relational space, time and purpose necessary to interact and network
* Encouraging participants to reflect on learning and share their values with others * Engaging a diverse group of stakeholders
* Enabling participants to have a better understanding of the whole system
* Helping participants manage cultural differences
* Providing the energy and sense of permission for action
* Allowing participants to self-organize in both intra-school and interschool collaborative efforts
Like many other educators, the teachers in this study noted that prior to the AI initiative they had
very little contact with other educators aside from a few peers in the same department or grade
level. Even the administrators confessed to having few connections outside of their own schools,
including administrators at schools a few blocks away. Opportunities for parents, and community
members to have regular interactions with educators were even scarcer.
The VSB Appreciative Inquiry initiative provided the motivation, the time and the relational
space for all of these stakeholders to engage in meaningful dialogue with other regarding the
development of engaged learners, a topic that both was both compelling and allowed everyone to
Each of the site team members had numerous opportunities to collaborate with other
stakeholders at each of the levels identified by Little (1990a): enjoying camaraderie, sharing
stories, exchanging ideas, obtaining advice and assistance, analyzing data, engaging in shared
decision making, and working together on joint projects. Some of the occasions for making new
connections were (1) participating as a member of the site team; (2) interfacing with district staff,
school administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, students, and community members
regarding the initiative; (3) sharing stories of powerful learning experiences with other
stakeholders; (4) joining others to co-construct a new future for their schools at the AI summits;
and (5) working to implement the action plans developed during the destiny process. In each
phase of the process, participants were able to share one-on-one or in small groups with others
and much of that interaction was at deep levels, reflecting on meaningful experiences or cocreating a new reality for their school.
By including a diverse group of stakeholders, the space and time for candid dialogue, and
focusing participants on stories about meaningful learning experiences from their past and
aspirations for the future of their schools, the AI process provided a rich opportunity to reflect
deeply regarding learning and education. One teacher observed that the process 'lets you ground
yourself in what the meaning of your job is and it revived me and gave me better appreciation of
what I did.' Other site team members also felt affirmed by the AI initiative, hearing others echo
deeply held beliefs and share their wisdom.
While it was not possible to include every stakeholder due to conflicting schedules or other
obstacles, the site team members were pleasantly surprised at the level of involvement of each
constituency, particularly parents and members of community groups who are frequently unable
to be active in the local schools. The VSB AI initiative brought together a wide range of
participants, including parents, students, representatives of community organizations, teachers,
administrators, support staff, and school district officials. The VSB superintendent and associate
superintendents were particularly visible at every summit and at the site team orientation session.
Site team members were amazed by the participation of such a diverse group of community members and noted that the AI initiative attracted a much larger group of constituents than the
school planning processes employed in the past.
Central High School provided one of the most extraordinary examples of engaging stakeholders
in the AI process. For years, leaders of the school had struggled for years to build relationships
with the local community of native peoples. The AI initiative provided the opportunity to plan a
special feast in honor of the native students and their families and to feature native storytelling
and dance as part of the celebration. Site team members remembered the feast as a critical
turning point in their relationship with the native community.
One of the surprises for educators was the strength of the student voices in the process. Out of
the fresh insights shared by students came new student leadership programs, a student advisory
council, and a new focus on educational technology. Barbara, a high school teacher, noted that
she and other educators in her group had mentally preprogrammed the path they expected
summit would take; however, the students took her site team in a different direction.
In addition to engaging educators and students, the AI inquiry was successful in involving
parents and community members. A large number of parents participated in the Central High
summit despite the fact that it took 2 days out of their busy schedules. Also the North High and
Camelback High sites were able to improve their connections with local community
organizations, and those new relationships resulted in a number of ongoing relationships,
including a partnership with a professional sports franchise and a program displaying student
work from kindergarten through 12th grade in businesses and community centers throughout the
Through their interaction with a diverse group of stakeholders, new administrators were able to
learn about the culture and histories of their schools, teachers gleaned insights from students,
parents, and administrators, high school and elementary school teachers learned from each other,
and community groups brought their expertise and resources to the table. One parent remarked
that her participation in the process provided her with the opportunity to interact with educators,
students, other parents and members of the community and discover that they shared similar
goals for their school. An understanding of the whole system also enabled site team members to
see the relationship between their work and the work of the entire District.
By p...

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A professional development plan brings out how successfully a person has been able to achieve
what he has wanted and how the skills that he had and acquired through the scope of...

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