PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES: A LITERATURE REVIEW

I. García García, M. de la Morena Taboada

University Camilo José Cela (SPAIN)
Educators of today recognize the importance of collaboration, support, and shared planning. However, thousands of teachers all over the world keep working in isolation because their schools have not established an endurable climate of collaboration. This is not an easy task to undertake. Luckily, there are schools which have successfully created and maintained interdependent collaborative teams over time. These successful, endurable, and interdependent teams are known in the Educational field as Professional Learning Communities.

Not many teachers and principals know what Professional Learning Communities are, let alone how to establish one in their schools. There is an urgent need to make educators understand that Professional Learning Communities are the most successful way to improve teaching practice and student learning, and this paper aims to do so by examining current literature on the topic. Our final goal is to enlighten educational professionals who are looking for a clear definition of the term and real examples of its implementation. In order to do so, we offer a detailed definition of the term and we identify which are the elements all successful Professional Learning Communities share. We also provide some guidelines on how to implement Professional Learning Communities in schools, including a case study. Finally, we argue how Professional Learning Communities have a number of advantages for teachers, being the promotion of distributed leadership one of the most important ones. The paper concludes with some suggestions for future research on the field.