Professional Learning Communities: Relationships Over Rules

I was recently asked by one of my mentors, Dr. Thomas Harvey (author of Resistance to change; Building teams, building people; The politically intelligent leader; and Checklist for change), to prepare a brief research paper and presentation on Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for the University of La Verne’s Educational Policy Institute of California (EPIC). The purpose of EPIC, according to their website, is to “to identify, study and report on issues of import to California K-12 agencies; to interpret state laws/policies; and to suggest best practices.”

Of course, I happily accepted his invitation!

A couple months prior to Dr. Harvey’s call, I had asked a friend and colleague, Dr. Hector Arroyo, to co-author the book, Professional learning communities: An integral approach. So it was perfectly fitting to tackle this EPIC project together. What a great vehicle to allow us time to solidify some thoughts, also giving us an opportunity to bounce a few ideas back and forth.

Since the importance of “Relationships” in PLCs is so dear to our hearts—rather than just the systems (or “Rules”)—we felt it fitting to title the paper, Professional Learning Communities: Relationships Over Rules. Below is a brief excerpt from our paper.

Those who want to create a substantial learning community—not just pay lip service to the idea—must focus the bulk of their energies on Relationships over Rules. It is those exact Relationships, whether supportive or dysfunctional, that make up the overarching culture, climate, and expectations. Relationships produce the diamond that comes from the rough.

If you would like to view the paper in its entirety, just click here. We’d also love to hear some feedback.


Dr. Perry Wiseman

Author of the book, Strong Schools, Strong Leaders

Founder/CEO of WiseFoundations


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