Understanding sustainable professional learning communities by considering school leaders’ interpretations and educational beliefs

Selia Neeske van den Boom - Muilenburg*, Siebrich de Vries, Klaas van Veen, Cindy L. Poortman, Kim Schildkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The way in which school leaders implement professional learning communities (PLCs) is important for realizing sustainable school improvement. The assumption is that school leaders act based on their interpretation of the PLC, which is based on their underlying educational beliefs. In this study, we explored these latter aspects by interviewing six formal and informal school leaders, discussing the sustainability of PLCs in two secondary schools that had each worked with PLCs for seven years. The results of this in-depth qualitative study show that the schools differed in the degree of sustainability they achieved: one still used the PLC as intended; the other now omitted one step of the original format. This can be explained by the leaders’ interpretations of the PLC and their educational beliefs. Furthermore, we found that student- and collaboration-oriented beliefs are critical for continuing the work of a PLC. Finally, we found that the organizational context mediateswhether leaders act upon their beliefs. Tensions between leaders’ beliefs and the organizational context, such as fear of colleagues’ resistance, appeared to influence their choice to act or not concerning specific aspects of the PLC. These findings can give school leaders insights into conditions for sustainable school improvement with PLCs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of leadership in education
Early online date5 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D

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