Management guru Jim Collins says, “ build a successful organization and team you must get the right people on the bus.” In this month’s Speaking Out, Jerome L. Rekart argues that among the people that you should have on your school’s professional learning community’s “bus” is a professional researcher.

Jerome L. Rekart, author of the Speaking Out article in the May/June issue of Principal, finds that educators rely on the Web and books as their top sources of information but rank scholarly journals (seventh most used) and magazines (such as Principal) as the most trustworthy sources. This disconnect presents a problem.

“The reliance on both suspect and potentially biased sources of information is likely a significant contributor to the persistence of misunderstanding about what research can and cannot provide for schools,” Rekart writes. “Supplying educators with correct and current information is critical so that resources are properly allocated and so inaccurate information is not disseminated to students, parents, colleagues, and communities.”

Rekart suggests that the sorting of “scientific research fact and fiction” is best accomplished by a researcher/academic who has been invited to serve on an integrated PLC. An iPLC uses the strengths of team members in pursuit of a common goal. The researcher identifies source materials related to a topic of study, while the educators read, discuss, and if appropriate, implement strategies that arise from the information.

Could this approach work at your school?