A professional learning community is most successful when it is used as an infrastructure to support a school staff’s vision and goals for improvement. The goal is not to “be a professional learning community.” Instead, the goals ought to be continuous inquiry, continuous improvement, and achievement of school improvement goals. If school staff are more focused on the becoming aspect of a professional learning community, then their intent is misaligned with the purpose of the infrastructure. Therefore, the school’s vision of school improvement, and its articulation of goals, is crucial to the development of a professional learning community—where the professionals come together to learn for improvement within a community setting.3
The transformation of low-performing schools into professional learning communities cannot be accomplished by simply addressing the five dimensions directly. A culture of collective learning and application is not likely to emerge from a few training sessions, nor will a set of workshops in themselves produce a group of teachers who are comfortable and trusting enough to engage in shared personal practice. Instead, the work of creating professional learning communities is to build and strengthen the capacity of the school staff so that they all share the common goal of ensuring student success and can make continual progress toward that goal. Rather than becoming a reform initiative itself, the professional learning community becomes the supporting structure for schools to continuously transform themselves through their own internal capacity.