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The role of school principals in creating and promoting professional learning communities: a study of three secondary schools in uMlazi District.

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School principals have a very important role to play in the Their role involves creation of an environment conducive to teaching and learning. One of many strategies that principals may adopt is to create professional learning communities. Research has shown that when PLCs in schools are well-practiced teaching and learning can improve. However, despite such a good report about PLCs what seems to be the case is that in many schools they still do not exist or they are ineffective and do not support teacher learning. Hence the focus of this study is on principals, as I believe that there is a need for research evidence about what school principals understand and experience as their role in promoting PLCs. The study adopted qualitative case study to explore the understandings and experiences of the three secondary school principals in creating and promoting PLCs. To collect data for the study, semi-structured interviews and document analysis were used. The results of the study revealed the following: (i)As much as the evidence has shown that principals understood that they had an important role to play in PLCs, they were not fully involved. Their understanding of the role to play was limited to just being providers and not being actively involved. (ii) Their role in the promotion of PLCs involved ensuring that members of a PLC respected and trusted each other. (iii) The principal’s role also included ensuring that the leadership skills of teachers participating in PLCs were developed. (iv) principals believed in shared leadership. (v) Principals have the responsibility of ensuring that necessary resources are always available for teaching and learning processes. (vi) Lastly subject meetings were also supported as another way of promoting PLCs as they are meant for teachers to share their skills and knowledge. The recommendations are as follows: School principals must be more involved in PLCs by making sure they attend and participate in the professional development sessions held in their schools. Secondly, district officials must be seen leading the initiatives that promote PLCs. This can be done through organising workshops and seminars for principals to capacitate them on different methods that they can use to promote an effective PLC. Lastly, depending on the availability of space, principals can solicit donations from private companies and from their ex-students and build multipurpose rooms. This may address the issue of not having enough space to hold PLC meetings. The issue of space can also be resolved if principals can identify schools within the circuit that can be used as centres of professional learning communities.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.