Professional Learning Communities

PLCs are internationally highly appreciated to serve school development and thus better pupils’ achievement (Vescio & Adams, 2015; Warwas & Helm, 2018). All partners deal in high expertise with PLCs in their institution, some participate in one and tend to adapt the concept to other groups in their institution, others accompany PLCs and do consulting, some do research and publish on PLCs. All partners have cooperated successfully in an ERASMUS+ project before.

If PLCs is an instrument of professionalization in the teaching profession and needs to be well established in schools, student-teachers, as soon-to-be teachers, should become familiar with it already during their teacher education at university. Courses on practical issues at university as much as phases of internship/practicum offer the opportunity to anticipate the later job, to practice and to reflect on this practical experience. The project ties to this idea and includes learning how to professionalize in university studies, in particular courses that go along with internship/practicum.

Together with the idea of experiencing the PLC work as students in internship goes the idea of mutual learning with the mentor-teachers. Those could get themselves up-to-date on modern scientific knowledge that student-teachers have available. The project’s target groups are (1) student-teachers, mentor-teachers; (2) school leaders, teacher educators/university staff and (3) leader/teacher (adult) educators.

Against the background of different university programs and traditions build up and experience different models of student-teachers’ PLCs (StPLC): (1) collect experience on long-term StPLCs (a couple of semesters) and on a short term (a couple of weeks); and also (2) develop exclusive student-teachers’ PLCs and combined PLCs of student and mentor-teachers. Furthermore, the consortium integrates the perspective of driving innovation and includes a group of school heads in professional development who learn how to foster the two versions of PLCs.

Since teacher education is a highly ranked and the PLC idea a big issue the project provides Intellectual Outputs on three levels: (1) academically required information on the status quo of StPLCs and the chances and limitations of combined PLCs of students and mentor-teachers, (2) materials to guide the establishment and facilitation of student-teachers’ or combined PLCs, (3) materials for the practical support of teacher educators who work with and support students’ or combined PLCs.

Related Links

Kansteiner, K. (2021). Merkmale Professioneller Lerngemeinschaften in der Differenzierung. In Katja Kunze, Dorthe Petersen, Gabrielle Bellenberg, Jan-Hendrik Hinzke, Anna Moldenhauer, Lena Peukert, Christian Reintjes & Kathrin te Poel (Hrsg.), Kooperation – Koordination – Kollegialität. Befunde und Diskurse zum (multi-)professionellen Zusammenwirken pädagogischer Akteur*innen an Schulen (S.91-101). Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.

In the paper an overview on the characteristics of a professional learning community that are being discussed internationally is presented. The compilation shows that according to dimensions of structure, processes, steps of establisment etc. differenciations within each characteristic can be made when looking at the decriptions of PLCs in the scientific debate. These differenciations help describing PLCs more accurately which can be of help for research or facilitation. The paper is written in German.

Kansteiner, K. (2020). Lehrer*innenkooperation … gepriesen, kritisiert und weiterentwickelt zu Professionellen Lerngemeinschaften.schulmanagement 51. Jg., Heft 3, 36-39.

In the paper a short and easy to read summary is given on the chances for teachers when they cooperate in the idea of a professional learning community. It highlights the learning perspective that is a main characteristic of PLCs and how it contributes to professionalization and school development. The paper is written in German.

Rist, M., Kansteiner, K. & Stamann, C. (2020). Professionalisierung von Schulleitungen über Professionelle Lerngemeinschaften – Skizze eines Forschungsfeldes. In Kansteiner, K.; Stamann, C.; Buhren, C.G. & Theurl, P. (Hrsg.), Professionelle Lerngemeinschaften als Entwicklungsinstrument im Bildungswesen (96-110). Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.

In the paper a collection of studies and their findings by exploring PLCs of school principals is being presented. The gain that school leaders report from collaborating in a PLC are promising toward leadership development and school development. The paper is written in German.

Theurl, P. & Kansteiner, K. (2020). Schulentwicklung und Entwicklung von Führungskräften mit Professionellen Lerngemeinschaften – Das Projekt HeadsUP. In Kansteiner, K.; Stamann, C.; Buhren, C.G. & Theurl, P. (Hrsg.), Professionelle Lerngemeinschaften als Entwicklungsinstrument im Bildungswesen (128-138). Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.

The authors describe the idea of the project Heads Up in which in the years 2017-2019 6 European countries set up PLC of school heads and ran an evaluation. This paper is written in German. You find comparable information on the project’s webpage:

Kansteiner, K. (2019). Professionelle Lerngemeinschaften Perspektiven auf die entwicklungsorientierte Kooperation von Lehrkräften und Schulleitungen. Schulmanagement-Handbuch, 172, München: Oldenbourg

This small book is written leading school principals and people in the school system who are intereted to learn and reflect about the method of PLC from a conceptual to practical side. The PLC method itself is presented, possible ways of setting PLCs up are being decribed and how to facilitate them is explained. Also critical reflections are initiated. The book is written in German and easy to read.

Kansteiner, K. (2019). Gelingende Lehrer*innenkooperation in Professionellen Lerngemeinschaften. Dokumentation zum Vortrag am Vernetzungstreffen „Innovative Unterrichtsentwicklung“. R.f.

This summary of a presentation at a network conference with teachers who practice PLCs in German secondary schools explains the idea of PLC as a method for learning oriented cooperation. It also focusses on several aspects that members of a PLC need to pay attention to in order to gain a benefit for their professionality by the way they cooperate in a PLC. The paper is written in German.

Huijboom, F., Van Meeuwen, P., Rusman, E., & Vermeulen, M. (2021). Keeping track of the development of professional learning communities in schools: the construction of two qualitative classification instruments. Professional Development in Education, 47(4), 667-683.

This study describes the development and validation of two qualitative classification instruments that can be used for systematically determining the state of a PLC, identifying changes in PLCs and assessing the steps that can be taken to stimulate its growth. In so doing, these instruments can help clarify whether a PLC really is what is expected from it.

Alhanachi, S., de Meijer, L. A., & Severiens, S. E. (2021). Improving culturally responsive teaching through professional learning communities: A qualitative study in Dutch pre-vocational schools. International Journal of Educational Research105, 101698.

This study presents evidence that participating in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) focusing on culturally responsive teaching results in joint work or shared practices, and contributes to effect changes in the attitude and beliefs of all teachers, and the knowledge and skills of some teachers.

Huijboom, F., Van Meeuwen, P., Rusman, E., & Vermeulen, M. (2021). Professional learning communities (PLCs) as learning environments for teachers: An in-depth examination of the development of seven PLCs and influencing factors. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 31, 100566.

This study investigates the various ways in which PLCs evolve through a period of two years, as well as the aspects in the school context that may influence their development. The findings revealed that all PLCs evolved through time, although in distinct ways. A cautious development from individual to collective performance was found. The school context factors were not found to explain how PLCs develops. In practical terms, the study concluded that PLCs are best supported by school leaders and others responsible for PLCs by focusing their activities on the needs of the PLC, incorporating a facilitator, providing time and space and offering sources.

Chalán Salazar, V. M. (2021). Comunidad Profesional de Aprendizaje en las Instituciones Educativas. Journal of Latin American Science, 5(2), 518-548.

This article is a systematic theoretical review of the changes that a professional learning communities produce when they are institutionalized in a school
community. Likewise, it presents the processes through which the training in service of a professional learning community goes through and the opportunities to grow based
on the challenges of the current context.

Krichesky, G. J., y Murillo Torrecilla, F. J. (2011). Las comunidades profesionales de aprendizaje. Una estrategia de mejora para la nueva concepción de escuela. Revista Iberoamericana sobre Calidad, Eficacia y Cambio en Educación, 9(1), 65-83.

The development of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in schools and the transformation of the school into a large PLC is an improvement strategy. It is imperative that teachers conceive their practice not only in terms of their classroom work, but also from their contribution to the integral development of all students, through strong involvement with the rest of the staff and with a solid commitment to improving the institution. It is first necessary to rethink certain organizational conditions and, above all, the school’s culture so that they could be spaces in which reflection, inquiry, collaboration and collegiality prevail.

Bolívar Ruano, M. R. (2012). La cultura de aprendizaje de las organizaciones educativas. Instrumentos de Diagnóstico y Evaluación. REICE. Revista Iberoamericana sobre Calidad, Eficacia y Cambio en Educación, 10 (1), 143-162.

Educational research has increasingly highlighted educational improvement when schools function as learning organizations. Promoting improvement processes must have, as a starting point, a “diagnosis” of the current situation of the organization. This paper reviews the best diagnostic tools we have on Organizations that Learn, their categorization and adaptation to the Spanish context.

Skoulia, T., & Louca, T. L. (2022). Participating in online Teacher Learning Communities as a Tool for Pre-Service Teacher Education. Paper accepted for presentation at the National Association in Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Conference.

The purpose of this descriptive case study was to better understand the characteristics of Teacher Professional Learning Communities (TPLCs) of pre-service teachers (PsTs). Data derived from 2 TPLCs in which 15 PsTs volunteered to participate, within the context of a pre-school Science Education course they were enrolled in. Our findings suggest that the participants (a) realized the need to work in their TPLCs within a professional culture, (b) regardless of their TPLC members; (c) recognized the usefulness of the TPLC meetings on the fulfillment of their course tasks; and (d) used reflections during TPLC meetings to apply pedagogical ideas that they had discussed in the course. We discuss insights about how this group of PsTs utilized opportunities for professional growth.