Read well; stay sharp; talk smart; lead better. Current, relevant literature summaries are provided through our monthly Professional Development Book Club. Visit this page monthly for a new summary or to review the archives. Use the information below to help you create and sustain meaningful faculty study groups.
do not have the time to read, you do not have the time to lead.
– Phillip Schlechty
Study groups are a form of job-embedded professional learning as well as a form of informal research. Participants read, research, and share knowledge. Whole-Faculty Study Groups (WFSG) include every faculty member within a school as a member of a structured study group. Groups focus on developing a greater understanding of what they teach and what knowledge and skills are needed to become more effective in the classroom. Guidelines are established to give the process structure.(1)
Five Principles of Whole-Faculty Study Groups
- Students are first - What groups do, how groups are organized, and the selection of study content is based on what students need teachers and administrators to do.
- Everyone participates - All faculty members including school administrators are members of study groups.
- Leadership is shared - All faculty members take turn serving as a group leader.
- Responsibility is equal - All faculty members are equally responsible for the work of the group.
- The work is public - Action plans, logs, study summaries, etc. are posted in a public place or distributed through the school’s electronic mail so that all groups know what is being done.
- Keep the size of the group to no more than six.
- Determine group membership according to who wants to address a specific instructional need that has been identified through data analysis.
- Establish procedures including a meeting schedule and location (weekly or every two weeks is typical) and group norms.
- Develop a study group action plan that includes an academic and instructional focus and share with the full faculty. Be sure the focus demands routine examination of student work.
- Incorporate multiple professional learning strategies to support the group study (e.g. training, focus groups, classroom walk-throughs).
- Regularly reflect on the work (the content as well as the process).
- Assess study group work. (Determine at the outset how this will be done, when, and by whom.)
- Murphy, C. U. & Lick, D.W. (1998). Whole-faculty study groups: A Powerful way to change schools and enhance learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Easton, L.B. (2004). Powerful designs for professional learning. Oxford,OH: National Staff Development Council.