How do teachers learn in a school-based teacher learning community?

Barr, Claire (2014) How do teachers learn in a school-based teacher learning community? Doctoral thesis (EdD), University of Sussex.

PDF - Published Version
Download (2MB) | Preview


There is a growing body of research that suggests that participating in collaborative, long-term continuing professional development (CPD) is the most effective type of CPD for teachers. An example of such CPD is a teacher learning community (TLC) where a group of teachers work together in school to discuss pedagogy and practice, observe each other in the classroom and feedback, all of this is done with the intention of improving student outcomes. This case study follows 12 teachers and their experience of a TLC over one academic year at a secondary school in south east England. The focus of the case study was to find out how teachers learn in a TLC, how the TLC contributes to their professional learning, what are the outcomes of the TLC, the essential elements plus the strengths and limitations of the TLC and finally, what elements of a TLC and teacher learning from this project might be transferable to other schools.

As an insider-researcher and member of the Senior Leadership Team, I collected qualitative data to uncover what goes on within the TLC and beyond it in order to understand how teachers learn in a TLC. The data sets consisted of ethnographic participant-observer notes, before and after interviews with five teacher participants, survey data and also interviews with teachers who had taken part in TLCs that had run in previous academic years.

Key contributions to knowledge are that teachers learnt through key processes of discussion, experimentation, reflection, and observation; the combination of these dimensions for some teachers also led to the development of metacognitive skills. Furthermore, learning in a TLC and the development of these metacognitive skills take a significant amount of time to develop. A further contribution to knowledge is that TLCs also contribute to the emotional well-being of teachers providing support and encouragement which is much needed in a wider national and international culture of accountability and performance related pay. The main barriers to learning in the TLC were generally related to a lack of time to carry out observations and engage in the related processes.

I conclude that TLCs have a positive impact on teachers and the school in a variety of ways, which leaves key decisions for Headteachers and policy makers: how can long-term collaborative CPD be supported and funded in schools and what cultural and financial shifts are required to enable all teachers to have the opportunities to participate in them.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1705 Education and training of teachers and administrators
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2801 School administration and organisation > LB2832 Teaching personnel
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2014 15:17
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2015 14:27

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update