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Improving teaching and learning in a middle school English faculty
thesisposted on 2017-02-27, 22:12 authored by Monkivitch, Jessica
This thesis investigated the way in which a group of teachers worked collaboratively to form a professional learning community (PLC) in a middle school English department, with the aim of improving their teaching and their students' learning in English. The case study captured and evaluated the impact of involvement in the PLC on the individual teachers' attitudes towards their teaching and how the process led to changes in the quality of their teaching practice. Literature reveals that professional learning communities are an effective form of professional development when teachers work collaboratively with a shared vision, common goals, clear structures, a focus on student learning, and sharing of expertise to improve practice. It was my intention to utilise this framework of a PLC in an attempt to improve our practice. In this research I adopted a qualitative approach, through the development of a case study of a PLC with elements of action research. I worked with the participants in a series of PLC sessions as we developed a shared vision and purpose and de-privatised our practice to learn through shared reflection. Data was collected during these sessions through observation and semi structured interviews. I was a participant observer in this process and recorded my own reflections. The participants were volunteers from the English Department in an urban private school. The wider purpose of the research was to heighten the understanding within the case study school of what constitutes professional learning, how it can be developed through shared practitioner research and to document and understand the importance of a PLC as a means of improving teaching practice within the school. The study found that teachers who are motivated to work collaboratively in a professional learning community, to develop a shared vision and a focus on student learning, can improve their teaching practice and become more engaged and motivated professionals as a result of their collegial involvement, reflection on their practice and sharing of pedagogy, and this process can help to develop pedagogy that can improve student learning.