Elementary Music Teachers' Shared Experiences in Compulsory Professional Learning Communities: A Phenomenological Study
By: Brian Anthony Verdi
Published: 05/18/2016
Uploaded: 06/05/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2016 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
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Description/Abstract: It is well documented that the successful implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) has had a positive effect on teacher professional development and increased student achievement. Most researchers who have studied PLCs have focused their attention on student achievement in areas of general education; only a small number of studies have been conducted on the professional development of music teachers. Federal, state, and local policies implemented PLCs as compulsory PD for all teachers regardless of teachers' content areas. These policies have had some impact on music teachers' PD, but because there are very few studies on music teachers' participation in PLCs, little is understood about how PLCs have affected music teacher PD. This study seeks to shed light on music teachers' experiences in PLCs. This research study will investigate this phenomenon and explore the research question: What are the shared experiences of music teachers who participate in compulsory professional learning communities?

Ten elementary music teachers were select to participate in this qualitative, phenomenological study. Participants were interviewed three times during the course of this study. Participants took part in PLCs comprised of interdisciplinary subjects that included teachers of special education; classroom teachers; dance, music, and art specialists; and librarians. Participants were also interviewed on their experiences in PLCs comprised of music teachers. Participants met within their interdisciplinary PLCs and music-PLCs at least once a month, as contractually required by their school districts.

The lived experiences were described by three emergent themes: moving from isolation to belonging, camaraderie, and professional development experiences. The results of this study indicate participation in certain PLC environments contributed to the reduction of feelings of music teacher isolation and increased feelings of camaraderie. In music-PLC settings, music teachers developed stronger relationships with their districts music colleagues and felt supported both professionally and emotionally. Elementary music teachers desired more autonomy over their professional development and wanted more choice over their PD. Participants support the PLC model and attribute professional growth to their participation in their music-PLCs.