Date of Award





Doctor of Education

Degree Type



Counseling, Foundations & Leadership

First Advisor

Robert Waller

Second Advisor

Michael Richardson

Third Advisor

Tom Hackett


Georgia Rule 505-2-.36, implemented in July of 2017, revised teacher recertification policy to include administrative evaluations of professional growth resulting from teachers’ engagement in professional learning communities (PLCs). The rule represented the convergence of two possibly conflicting ideals: mandated change and PLCs. Districts were permitted autonomy over how to implement and develop rubrics for the evaluation of professional growth resulting from PLCs. The purpose of this bounded case study was to capture the perceptions of teachers concerning the structure, purpose and dynamics of required PLC meetings during the initial year of implementation. The goal was to give voice to the teachers at the intersection of mandated change and collaboration to provide administrators with the understanding necessary to facilitate and evaluate PLCs in a manner that met both teachers’ and students’ needs. Twelve core academic teachers from a middle Georgia high school provided data for the study. Data collection included participant prequestionnaires, participant drawing narratives, semi-structured interviews and a focus group. Eleven themes were constructed through data analysis. Two themes were presented for research question one, which probed participants’ perceptions of the structure of required PLC meetings: degree of autonomy in meeting structure and influence of meeting logistics on perceptions of PLCs. Four themes were constructed for research question two, which explored teachers’ perceptions of purpose: perceived purpose, meeting content, meeting decisions, and value of PLCs. Five themes were developed pertaining to research question three concerning the dynamics of mandated PLC meetings: interpersonal frustrations, leadership, member engagement, culture of PLCs, and conflict resolution. Participants indicated most structural aspects of their required PLC meetings were either administratively derived with elements of teacher autonomy or fully group determined. The structure was viewed as both an enhancement and constraint to PLC engagement. Teachers’ theoretical understanding of PLCs aligned with the communicated intent of the policy as well as the literature reviewed. A gap was identified in the application of PLC meeting content to instructional practice. The culture of PLCs as well as the collaborative skills of teachers were identified as crucial components resulting either in authentic collaboration or dysfunction behaviors during mandated PLCs.