The role of principals in transforming their schools into professional learning communities : the perspectives of two secondary schools in Ugu District.
Ngcamu, Bhekukwenza American Francis.
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The need for collaborative learning between and among teachers has emerged. In the past, teachers were working in isolation; in their classrooms and schools. This practice of isolation, has limited their professional development and to some extent, compromised the quality of education that the schools offer to the students. The culture of collaborative learning by teachers has been advocated by different pieces of literature, in different contexts, by different researchers to cater for the reciprocal professional grow of teachers. Principals of schools can play an important role in transforming their schools into professional learning communities. This study, as a result, has been undertaken in order to understand the role that the principals of schools can play in transforming their schools into professional learning communities. The assumption is that after completion Advanced Certificate in Education School Leadership (ACE: SL) programme, the principals would be able to transform their schools into professional learning communities. In the study, semi-structured interviews, document analysis and informal observations were the methods that were used to generate data. The interviews were recorded and transcribed before they were analysed. Data from the transcripts were coded and themes were form, which were used to analyse the data. Documents were also analysed in accordance to the themes that had been developed and some observations during the interviews process were also used in the analysis of the study. The results of the study reveal that i) The schools whose principals play an active role in transforming them into professional learn communities show better performance in grade 12 than their counterparts that work in isolation. ii) Some principals still lack expertise and commitment to transforming their schools into professional learning communities. iii) Some principals are engaged in teacher leadership development in such a way that they even allow teachers to attend leadership workshops outside their schools. iv) Some principals are so committed to professional learning communities to such an extent that they even provide refreshments and buy some books for the professional learning communities. This instils love for collaborative learning in teachers and learners, as well. v) Some principals promote collaborative learning of teachers both from within and outside the schools. This contributes to the reduction of job related stress which is sometimes experienced by teachers who work in isolation.