Date of Award

Spring 4-9-2020

Document Type

Dissertation - University of Massachusetts Global access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Timothy McCarty

Second Advisor

Keith Larick

Third Advisor

Carlos V. Guzman


Effective collaboration within an organization is a fundamental way to improve instructional practices in education. The United States has weathered many educational reform attempts that have fallen short due to a lack of shared vision and poorly communicated expectations, coupled with a lack of due diligence and tenacity needed to follow through with student learning as the identified focal point. The Professional Learning Community (PLC) is based on the collaborative process, requires a shared vision, is data driven, and focuses on student learning. This study explored the teamwork implemented in the PLC process when striving to improve educational instructional practices.

Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative multiple-case study was to describe the task and relationship team dynamics of elementary grade level teams, as well as their challenges and recommendations as perceived by PLC teacher leaders based on the Jones and Bearley (2001) model.

Methodology: A qualitative multiple case study research design was used to describe the team dynamics, challenges, and recommendations PLC teacher leaders observed as they worked with elementary PLC teams. The researcher used a case study qualitative research design to address the purpose and research questions effectively.

Findings: Ten common themes emerged from this study that encompass the importance of supporting task and relationship dynamics for developing effective PLC teams. Additionally, communication and lack of resources were found to be challenges that could be overcome for team development.

Conclusions: The following five main conclusions were found: developing district-wide collective coherence is essential for the success of PLC grade level teams; teachers need to be focused on relationships as they engage in PLC practices; effective teams are created through intentionality, hard work, time, and long-term commitment; high functioning teams need communication and team interdependence; and districts implementing the PLC process often underestimate the complexity involved in the change process needed to develop effective teams.

Recommendations: Based on the conclusions of this study, school district leadership should adopt practices that support teacher collaboration and communication by offering ongoing training and support with intentional team development to facilitate more effective teams.