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A Districtwide Approach to Staff and Student Learning

Foreword by Jim Knight

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November 2012 | 200 pages | Corwin
The purpose of this book is to provide districts with a comprehensive guide to building a powerful, systems-wide professional development program that will enhance the quality of teachers they employ. Building on recommendations from The National Staff Development Council and the latest research on teacher professional development, the foundation of this PD system is the power of job-embedded professional learning, with a particular focus on inquiry and professional learning communities.
List of Figures
About the Authors
Part I. For the Administrator
1. The Principal Professional Learning Community
2. The Principal Professional Learning Community in Practice
Part II. For the Teacher
3. The Inquiry-Oriented PLC
4. The Inquiry-Oriented Learning Community in Practice
Part III. For the Student
5. Introducing Inquiry Into the Classroom
6. Student Inquiry in Practice
Part IV. For the Professional Developer
7. The Importance of Coaching
8. Developing a District-Wide Cadre of Coaches


"This unique and original book is beautifully organized and takes us into the world of inquiry with all the pieces of the puzzle—principal, teachers, students, and coaches. Each of the four parts of the book has paired chapter: One outlining the frame of inquiry relative to the role in question; the other providing grounded example of practice as a given school year unfolds. The authors have provided a treasure trove of inquiry-based ideas connecting improved practice to student achievement. Their dozen lessons in the last chapter are keepsakes in their own right."

Michael Fullan, Author and Professor Emeritus
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto

"This book provides essential support for all educators within every academic learning community. The authors eloquently define teacher inquiry and provide powerful instructional models and protocols that place students and their learning at the heart of what we do in education each and every day."

Jana Scott Lindsay, Educational Consultant
Saskatoon Public Schools, SK, Canada

"This tidy little volume offers an ambitious lesson plan for educators who would craft in their schools a professional culture hospitable to both student and adult learning."

Roland S.Barth, Author and Founding Director
The Harvard Principals' Center, Cambridge, MA

"The authors have provided a process of developing an inquiry learning culture for students, teachers, coaches, and principals.  Writing from their own experiences, they provide specifics for planning, designing, and delivering powerful professional development."

Steve Barkley, Executive Vice President
Performance Learning Systems, Bensalem, PA

"This book is a refreshing example of a way to actually raise student achievement by developing critical thinking skills, fostering creativity and encouraging reflective practice. I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in being a part of a school culture where all students and staff members are dedicated to achieving high levels of learning by continually improving their performance."

Michele Mattoon, Director of NSRF (National School Reform Faculty)
Harmony Education Center, Bloomington, IN

"The central precept of the book—establishing an inquiry culture for district-wide professional development that unifies the numerous piecemeal initiatives we face—really resonates for me. With inquiry as a 'golden thread' to tie together professional development, we can move from disjointed 'sit and get' sessions to true ongoing, job-embedded learning for adults, which will support coherent, meaningful learning for students."

Gail Ritchie, Instructional Coach
Fairfax County Public Schools, Centreville, VA

"This book made me question my role as a teacher-leader. I learned that I no longer need to sit by and wait patiently for the right professional development opportunity. I can create one and thereby enhance the effectiveness of my own pedagogy as well as influence the academic climate of my school."

Nina Eidson, Third-Grade teacher
Liberty Elementary School, Canton, GA

"This book is unique because it addresses key stakeholders who inhabit the district and explains how to design systems and structures that support high quality professional development through inquiry-oriented communities."

Cathy Caro-Bruce, Educational Consultant
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Madison, WI

"Educators who wish to improve their own professional practice on a continual basis and who wish to support a districtwide inquiry approach that will improve student achievement and develop 21st-century thinkers should read this book."

Tiffany A. Perkins, Director of Federal Programs
Rockingham County Schools, Eden, NC

"This book identifies key obstacles in building professional learning communities, and offers productive strategies for successfully negotiating those obstacles. It will become a well-used addition to any teacher’s professional library."

Laura McDermott, Principal
South Central Elementary School, Corrydon, IN

Sample Materials & Chapters



Nancy Fichtman Dana

Nancy Fichtman Dana is currently professor of education in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She began her career in education as an elementary school teacher in Hannibal Central Schools, New York. Since earning her PhD from Florida State University in 1991, she has been a passionate advocate for teacher inquiry and has worked >extensively in supporting schools, districts and universities in implementing powerful programs of job-embedded professional development through inquiry across the United States and in several countries, including China, South Korea, Belgium, Portugal, The Netherlands,... More About Author

Carol M. Thomas

Carol Thomas is currently an Area Superintendent for Pinellas County Schools. To address the needs of the nation’s 22nd largest school, the district utilizes area superintendents to lead, support and develop the work of schools. Of the 37 diverse elementary schools that Thomas oversees, 27 made the NCLB’s “adequate yearly progress” standard in 2009. For the past three years the work of her region has been focused on a systematic approach to developing powerful instructional leaders. Using professional learning communities, principals and assistant principals studied and practiced the art of practitioner inquiry. As a result, school leaders... More About Author

Sylvia S. Boynton

Sylvia Boynton is a “professor in residence” in the University of Florida’s College of Education. In this role through the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, she works with teachers and administrators in a district-based, school improvement initiative in Pinellas County (St. Petersburg and Clearwater), Florida. She works intensively in 19 Title 1 elementary schools with a total of 75 educators who are earning graduate degrees in the Teacher Leadership for School Improvement (TLSI) program at UF. In addition, she collaborates with two associate superintendents to provide inquiry-focused professional development to elementary principals. Most... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781412992473

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