Professional Learning Communities: Reflections on Cases in Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates
by Osama Al-Mahdi1, Marloes de Munnik2, Beatrix Henkel3, Luke Meinen4, & Marissa Green5 1Educational Studies Department, Bahrain Teachers College, University of Bahrain, Bahrain. 2MdM Learnscape, The UAE & REAL Centre, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. 3Founder of R.A.C.E., The United Arab Emirates. 4Riffa Views International School, Bahrain. 5Innovators Private School, the Sultanate of Oman.
Al-Mahdi, O., de Munnik, M., Henkel, B., Meinen, L., Green, G. (2021). Professional Learning Communities: Reflections on Cases in Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. In D. Koyama (Ed.), Development of Innovative Pedagogical Practices for a Modern Learning Experience (pp 51-96). Jagadhri, HR: CSMFL Publications. https://dx.doi.org/10.46679/978819484836303
This chapter explores the different definitions and, characteristics of international and regional research on a professional learning community (PLC) approach. The chapter discusses models of professional development that are used in international educational systems then it reflects on possible ways for adopting these models in the educational context in Bahrain, Oman and The United Arab Emirates. A focus on the educational context in the countries is included with recommendations for the implications thereof on policy and practice. This chapter has two parts: the first is a literature review that synthesizes key ideas, research, and results in the field of PLCs. The chapter thereby is connecting to ideas from a socio-material practice perspective in the field of workplace learning. This results in a focus on professional responsibility, accountability and experience. The second part includes two detailed cases that illustrate how PLCs are translated into learning and teaching practice in two private schools in Bahrain and Oman, and a third case reflecting on PLC initiatives in The United Arab Emirates.
The chapter recommends promoting a PLC approach in educational systems in the Gulf Council Countries (GCC) and globally by focusing on the following practical implementations: expanding its use in pre- and in-service teacher training programs, adapting PLCs’ best international practices to the localized educational context, preparing school principals to lead PLCs in their schools, providing human and financial support to these communities, and working on changing school cultures to become more collaborative by using initiatives such as coaching. A shortage of studies about PLCs, specifically in the GCC region, may lead to a limited spread of improved professional teaching practices applied in GCC schools and the wider network of schools associated with GCC schools. This chapter highlights the importance of a PLC approach and provides examples of how this approach is being used. We suggest that other practitioners, school leaders and researchers may benefit by embracing a PLC approach for increased professional teaching practice, subsequent learner success and improved organizational education outcomes.
Keywords: Teaching practice, teacher professional development, educational policies, PLCs in practice
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