The 2009-2010 research on the Literacy and Numeracy Learning Connections Project (LC) was directed at understanding the perspectives, activities, and plans of the LC Champions in their role as leaders in building participation in LC within their areas of professional responsibility. To help guide their program planning and implementation, LC management wanted to learn what Champions were doing to fulfill their functions during the fall of 2009, and their plans for future activities; what Champions understood the role of a Champion to be and how they thought LC might better support that role; what Champions thought effective teacher professional learning should look like, and what the role of a professional learning community was in that learning process; how well the Champions thought LC was addressing the learning needs of its members, and how it should work to foster a learning community; and the perceived barriers to building the effectiveness of the Champions and the professional capacity of members through LC and how these could be overcome. In addition, the Champions’ views were sought on the viability of several approaches to sharing with districts the costs of LC conference attendance and teacher release time (costs currently borne in full by LC).
To gather the data required to address these questions, small-group interviews were conducted with 13 Champions during the Champions conferences held in the fall and spring of the 2009-2010 school year. The subset of Champions selected for interviewing were chosen by LC management to be a representative sample both in terms of their professional role (teacher, consultant, or administrator) and level of experience with LC. Four Champions participated in both the fall and spring interviews so as to provide insight into any changes in their perspectives over the intervening time in certain areas of interest. All interview sessions were recorded and transcribed for analysis.
“What this study makes clear is that by facilitating forms of teaching and learning that leverage the affordances of technology in powerful ways, the LC program can be highly effective at building teacher capacity to foster student utilization and development of many critically important 21st century learning skills.”