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Building and Connecting Learning Communities

Building and Connecting Learning Communities
The Power of Networks for School Improvement

Edited by:
  • Steven Katz - Director, Aporia Consulting Ltd. and Faculty Member, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto
  • Lorna M. Earl - University of Toronto, Canada
  • Sonia Ben Jaafar - Assistant to the Researcher in Residence, Ontario Ministry of Education, Ontario Ministry of Education

© 2009 | 136 pages | Corwin

"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.

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  

"Taking your school from great to greater—to get there, this compelling book gives you tools to use with staff for reflecting on and refining your professional practices. It provides you and your team with effective options for taking learners to the next level of improvement."

Lynn A. Kaszynski, Principal
Harrison Street Elementary School, Sunbury, OH

Used the following text:
Davis, J. A. (1985). The logic of causal order. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Dr Tirupalavanam Ganesh
School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, Arizona State University - Tempe
September 26, 2011
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

Sample Materials & Chapters



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ISBN: 9781412966016
ISBN: 9781412966009

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