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Professional Learning Communities, school culture and differentiated instruction.

Most learning instructors are of the perception that all students are the same. They tend to prepare teaching instructions and learning content in line with this thought. Various scholars have carried out research on this topic and the results may be shocking to teachers. Research has shown that the general assumption taken by teachers that all students are equal or the same to each other is false and misleading. If all students were the same, why are their faces different, why do some students understand learning content better than others? These are some of the issues that this paper is going to address. Research and experience of teacher has shown that students are not the same, they are different from each other, they understand things differently, they come from different backgrounds, have varied preferences and basic needs.
Professional learning communities
There are various forms of professional learning communities and these may include; study groups, coaching, mentoring, curriculum development, jigsaw strategy, video viewing, action research and examining students work. These learning communities tend to enhance the individual understanding of each student while at the same time enhances the teacher`s communication, monitoring and evaluation of students (Bender & Larkin, 2009).
Study groups are small groups formed by students to discuss particular topics and they mainly focus on inquiry, reflection and exploration of information. During study group sessions, goals and implementation plans are set. Video sessions provide an opportunity for scholars and teacher to view actual lessons taking place. A picture is worth a thousand words, here we are able to learn from our mistakes and also learn new ideas and techniques from other scholars and researchers. Jigsaw is a strategy used by group members to learn new ideas by reading interdependently in small groups. Each member of the group is assigned a particular portion of the text to read independently before a discussion. This foster`s teamwork as members are forced to rely on each other carrying out their duties. Action research refers to use of inquiry and research to address specific questions raised by students. Action research provides students and teachers with an opportunity to pursue specific questions that both students and teachers are passionate about (Gregory, 2008).
School culture and differentiated instruction
All school policies and programs are supposed to facilitate improvement and growth capacity of learning and professional institutions. Improvement, growth and change are dependent upon various factors which include; skills, knowledge and dispositions of the educator which improves quality of staff; professional learning communities which foster teamwork and principal leadership which provides encouragement and mentorship (Gregory, 2008).
In all learning institutions the main objectives and goals are to improve the student`s understanding, knowledge and skills; improve the competence, confidence and skills of the teaching staff and instill professionalism in both the students and teachers in discharge of their duties (Eaker, DuFour & Dufour, n.d.).
The culture of an institution plays a big role in the optimal performance of personnel. Culture refers to norms, values and assumption which govern a particular society. Values are things which the society stands for, assumptions are theories which govern values and beliefs while norms are the expected forms of behavior that members have to abide by. These norms either have a positive or negative effect on student achievement. Positive norms include giving opportunity for people to voice their ideas, respect to personal suggestions and giving continuous support and help to needy students. Negative norms in culture would include; lack of involvement in group activities, continuous criticism of other members and discouraging participation (Gregory, 2008).
            Differentiated instructional learning should be encouraged as it gives opportunity to students with special needs to access quality education. Through this technique teachers are able to identify the student`s weak areas through continuous monitoring and evaluation. Through professional learning communities students learn the importance of teamwork which they carry with them to professional organizations.

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