This study focused on the development of seven within-school PLCs during two school years. A total of 139 interviews, and 82 observations of PLC meetings formed the base for in-depth explorations, distinguishing various development levels in PLC characteristics. Using two validated qualitative classification instruments, data were collected to identify changes in characteristics and to track and describe development. This study explores the multiple way(s) in which PLCs develop through time, and looks at school context factors that might influence their development. Results indicated that all PLCs developed over time, however differently. The way the learning activities Collaboration, Reflection, Feedback and Experimentation were performed, showed a cautious development from individual to collective performance. Development from an incidental towards a systematic way of performing was not found in any PLC. No patterns in the development of PLC characteristics could be distinguished that might explain the influence of school context factors on the development of PLCs. In terms of practical implications, school leaders and others responsible for PLCs can be effective in fostering PLC development by tailoring their actions specifically to the needs of the PLC and by deploying a facilitator, granting collective autonomy, providing time and space and offering sources.
- Context specificity
- Professional learning community development
- Qualitative instruments
- SCHOOL LEADERSHIP
- School leadership