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Toward Communal Negotiation of Meaning in Schools: Principals’ Perceptions of Collective Learning from Success


by Chen Schechter — 2011

Background: In light of the growing complexity of schoolwork, it is important that faculty members move away from isolated learning toward a more collective type of thinking regarding teaching and learning issues.

Purpose: Whereas collective learning has mostly been approached from a deficit-based orientation (finding/solving problems and overcoming failures), this study examines principals’ perceptions (mindscapes) about the notion and strategy of collective learning from faculty members’ successful practices.

Research Design: The study employed a qualitative topic-oriented methodology to explore principals’ mindscapes concerning collective learning from success in schools.

Data Collection and Analysis: Data were collected via face-to-face interviews with 65 elementary, middle, and high school principals. The analysis process involved identifying common themes, contrasting patterns, and elucidating the differences among principals’ voices.

Findings:Principals argued that in contrast to collective learning processes to evaluate failures and problems, collective learning from successful practices requires a deliberate and conscious shift in mindset with regard to collaborative learning in schools. Principals perceived the competitive culture and the comparison of professional abilities among faculty members as major determinants of a productive collective learning from success. Principals envisioned their role in this interactive process as promoting a learning culture of inquiry, openness, and trust.

Recommendations:As a leadership strategy to foster collective learning in schools, both practitioners and researchers need to evaluate whether a learning community can be developed when staff members are encouraged to collectively analyze their successful practices and receive affirmation for doing so. It is important to further inquire how different stakeholders perceive this collaborative learning from successful practices.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 11, 2011, p. 2415-2459
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16107, Date Accessed: 7/31/2014 1:35:20 PM

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About the Author
  • Chen Schechter
    Bar-Ilan University
    E-mail Author
    CHEN SCHECHTER, Ph.D., is Director of the Principal Preparatory Program in the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Policy at the School of Education, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel. His research areas include organizational learning, learning from success, educational change, educational leadership, system thinking, and qualitative research methods. His study on the notion of learning from success as leverage for professional learning community appeared in Teachers College Record (“Learning from Success as Leverage for Professional Learning Community: Exploring an Alternative Perspective of School Improvement Process,” 2010).
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