Professional Learning Communities in an Extended Version
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
A professional learning community (PLC) has increasingly appeared as an ideal image for school leaders when shaping a successful school organisation. A PLC is characterised by teachers sharing and critically reviewing their practices in an on-going collaborative, inclusive and learning-orientated way. Students represent the majority of a school organisation although they are rarely considered as participants in the PLC. The aim of our study was to explore an extended version of a PLC with a focus on participation of teachers and students working together in the classroom. The social theory of Wenger was used as a framework of the study. We have also made an explicit connection between PLC and the classroom as a community of practice. According to Wenger learning occurs as a function of legitimate participation in the negotiation of the work.
Data was based on interviews with eleven teachers at a compulsory school working within a school wide project of professional learning. Teachers selected for the interviews had earlier in the project showed a close collaboration with students during their improvement work in the classroom.
Three themes constituting the legitimate participation in the negotiation were used as an analytical tool: shared repertoire, mutual engagement and joint enterprise. 1) A shared repertoire was in the interviews expressed in terms of how teachers introduced and developed different tools for learning. The use of temporary and permanent tools seemed to change customary teaching into positive learning experiences. 2) A mutual engagement was in the interviews expressed in terms of how to establish relations and an atmosphere as well as respect for learning among students. 3) A joint enterprise was in the interviews expressed in terms of how students’ associations and experiences were used to illuminate the content knowledge in planning for learning.
Collaboration between teacher and students were initially dependent on the teacher inviting the students to participate. However, gradually transferring invitations into negotiations shaped a community of teachers together with students. Knowledge of what constitute a PLC is most relevant for school leaders when planning for improvement, especially how PLCs interact with and engage students in the learning process. To promote the building of a PLC our findings showed important qualities for school leaders to be considered in organising teachers´ work and learning.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-31659OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-31659DiVA: diva2:949325
Educational Leadership in Transition - the Global Perspectives, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, November 5-6, 2014
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2012-5953