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Building and Connecting Learning Communities

The Power of Networks for School Improvement

Illustrating how networked learning communities (NLCs) can impact school improvement, the authors examine formal/informal leadership roles, collaborative inquiry as an essential tool, and how NLCs support schoolwide accountability.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781412966016
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2009
  • Page Count: 136
  • Publication date: September 01, 2009

Price: $33.95

Price: $33.95
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"Taking your school from great to greater—this compelling book gives you tools to use with staff for reflecting on and refining professional practices. You and your team will find tools for taking learners to the next level of improvement!"
—Lynn A. Kaszynski, Principal
Harrison Street Elementary School, Sunbury, OH

Networked learning communities: A powerful school improvement strategy for school leaders!

Ideal for school leaders and superintendents leading change efforts, this book describes how separate professional learning communities can be linked across schools by common instructional and learning issues to create dynamic networked learning communities (NLCs). Drawing on their work with schools throughout North America and England, Steven Katz, Lorna M. Earl, and Sonia Ben Jaafar show how participants in NLCs can share professional knowledge that ultimately improves performance at the school and district level.

Through a sample school narrative, the book illustrates how NLCs can significantly enhance instruction, increase student performance, and empower local professional learning communities. This resource examines:

  • Collaborative inquiry as a process that challenges teachers' thinking, generates new learning, and fosters trusting relationships
  • The development of formal and informal leadership roles in NLCs
  • How NLCs support systematic data analysis and accountability

Demonstrating how NLCs—small or large, local or statewide—can promote critical reforms while strengthening the work of individual professional learning communities, this invaluable resource reveals how educators can join forces across school and district boundaries to generate deep, meaningful, and sustainable change.

Key features

  • Details a process for cultivating the conditions for knowledge creation and sharing in relation to an identified needs-based focus
  • Identifies a set of key enablers at both the school and network levels that have been found to be influential in enhancing classroom practice and improving student learning and achievement
  • Illustrates how these key enablers can be intentionally developed at both the school and network levels, and how both units—school and network—can be strengthened through their relationship to one another
  • Develops a running narrative of a single school's place and interactions within a networked learning community to illustrate the inner-workings of NLC development


Steven Katz photo

Steven Katz

Steven Katz is the director of Aporia Consulting Ltd. and a faculty member in the Applied Psychology and Human Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE, UT), where he teaches in the Child Study and Education graduate program. He is the recipient of the OISE, UT- wide award for teaching excellence. Steven has a PhD in human development and applied psychology, with specialization in applied cognitive science. His areas of expertise include cognition and learning, teacher education, networked learning communities, leading professional learning, and evidence-informed decision making for school improvement. He has received the Governor General’s Medal for excellence in his field and has been involved in research and evaluation, professional development, and consulting with a host of educational organizations around the world. He is the author of several best-selling books, including Leading Schools in a Data-Rich World, Building and Connecting Learning Communities, Intentional Interruption, and The Intelligent, Responsive Leader.

Lorna M. Earl photo

Lorna M. Earl

Lorna M. Earl is a director of Aporia Consulting Ltd. and a retired associate professor from the Department of Theory and Policy Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. She was the first director of assessment for the Ontario Education Quality and Accountability Office, and she as been a researcher and research director in school districts for over 20 years.

Throughout her career, Earl has concentrated her efforts on policy and program evaluations as a vehicle to enhance learning for pupils and for organizations. She has done extensive work in the areas of literacy and the middle years, but has concentrated her efforts on issues related to evaluation of large-scale reform and assessment (large-scale and classroom) in many venues around the world. She has worked extensively in schools and school boards, and has been involved in consultation, research, and staff development with teachers' organizations, ministries of education, school districts, and charitable foundations. Earl holds a doctorate in epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as degrees in education and psychology.
Sonia Ben Jaafar photo

Sonia Ben Jaafar

Sonia Ben Jaafar is a research associate at Aporia Consulting Ltd. She works internationally to support policy and program development and implementation through applied research and evaluation. Her areas of expertise include assessment, accountability, educational reform, policy and program development, and comparative studies.

Ben Jaafar graduated from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto with a PhD in theory and policy studies. She also holds an MA in curriculum, teaching, and learning; a BEd specialized in science education; and a BSc in biochemistry.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



About the Authors

1. Why Networks? Why Now?

It’s About Learning

Networks: A Powerful Organizational Tool

Time for Reflection

2. How Networked Learning Communities Work

What Are Networked Learning Communities?

How NLCs Work: The Theory of Action

Using NLCs to Focus Local PLCs

The Anatomy of a NLC: A Refined Theory of Action

Time for Reflection

3. Establishing a Clear and Defensible Focus

Focus Foremost

Evidence-Based Focus

From a School Focus to a Network Focus

Time for Reflection

4. Collaborative Inquiry to Challenge Thinking and Practice

The Importance of Relationships

From Inquiry to an Inquiry Habit of Mind

From Relationships to Deep Collaboration

Getting to Powerful Collaborative Inquiry

Time for Reflection

5. Leadership in Networked Professional Learning Communities

Roles of Formal Leaders

Roles of Informal Leaders

Time for Reflection

6. From Student Learning to Teacher Learning

Towards Focused Collaborative Inquiry

Collaborative Inquiry for Teacher Leaders

Within-School Focused Professional Learning: Collaborative Inquiry for Teachers

Time for Reflection

7. Using the Network to Support Professional Learning for Leaders

Collaborative Inquiry and Focused Learning for Leaders

Using Critical Friends to Promote Inquiry and Focus Efforts

From Collaborative Inquiry to Instructional Leadership Actions

Time for Reflection

8. Sustaining Networked Learning Communities

Sustaining Collective Understanding

Sustaining Professional Learning

Sustaining and Broadening Leadership

Sustaining Powerful Networked Learning Communities

Time for Reflection





Price: $33.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.