International Schools, PD, and PLCs


Over the past few months I have been thinking very about international schools and professional development for my dissertation.  Here’s my thoughts on how professional development can be related to

A strong need exists for international schools to customize professional development (PD) to address transformational teaching. If international school administrators were to deliver similar PD every year, managing these schools would be simple. But the international sector is a dynamic environment. Emerging demands come from advancing technologies which impacts pedagogy (OECD, 2010). Thus teachers need ongoing training to incorporate new technologies into their classroom practice. Another difficulty facing administrators is the transient nature of international teachers (Chandler, 2010; Hayden & Thompson, 2011). Consistent staff turnover (Hayden & Thompson, 2011; Odland & Ruzicka, 2009) makes sustaining school vision practices more challenging. Further complicating PD is the disparate teaching proficiencies of an international staff. Under these circumstances allocating PD resources becomes unpredictable for administrators. Therefore, an international school needs to deliver cost effective PD which is pertinent to all teachers in their school environment.

Building professional learning communities (PLC) (Dufour & Dufour, 2013) is a viable solution to address school innovations, but more research is needed. The PLC model contextualizes workplace teaching practice by using the staff’s collective knowledge. However current PLC research evidence draws mostly from domestic schools in Western countries (Miranda & Damico, 2015; Owen, 2015; Rigelman & Ruben, 2012; Thompson & Goe, 2009; Vescio, Ross & Adams, 2008). Thus, the distinctive characteristics of an international faculty calls to question the literature’s transferability. Also the current written works (DuFour & DuFour, 2013; Lee, Zhang & Yin, 2011; Stoll, Bolam, McMahon, Wallace & Thomas, 2006) seem to assume PLC collaboration is intuitive and developing over lengthy time. Few studies (Ning, Lee & Lee, 2015; Rigelman & Ruben, 2012) have investigated the actual collaboration mechanisms and factors which strengthen each PLC meeting. Less studies (Harnisch, Comstock & Bruce, 2014; Jaipal-Jamani &Figg, 2015) have examined the impact of technological change in schools and PLCs. As such, international schools would benefit by deepening their understanding of PLC conditions needed to serve their ever transforming environment.


Chandler, J. (2010). The role of location in the recruitment and retention of teachers in international schools. Journal Of Research In International Education, 9(3), 214-226.

DuFour, R. & DuFour, R. (2013). Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work TM. Solution Tree Press.

Harnisch, D. L., Comstock, S. L., & Bruce, B. C. (2014). Collaborative inquiry with technology in secondary science classrooms: professional learning community development at work. e-Learning and Digital Media, 11(5), 495-505.

Hayden, M. & Thompson, J. (2011) Teachers for the international school of the future In Bates, R. J. (Ed.), Schooling internationally. globalisation, internationalisation, and the future for international schools. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, N.Y. : Routledge.

Jaipal-Jamani, K. & Figg, C. (2015). A case study of a TPACK-based approach to teacher professional development: Teaching science with blogs. Contemporary Issues In Technology And Teacher Education (CITE Journal), 15(2), 161-200.

Lee, J. C., Zhang, Z. & Yin, H. (2011). A multilevel analysis of the impact of a professional learning community, faculty trust in colleagues and collective efficacy on teacher commitment to students. Teaching And Teacher Education: An International Journal Of Research And Studies, 27(5), 820-830.

Miranda, R. R. & Damico, J. B. (2015). Changes in teachers’ beliefs and classroom practices concerning inquiry-based instruction following a year-long RET-PLC program. Science Educator, 24(1), 23-35.

Ning, H. K., Lee, D. & Lee, W. O. (2015). Relationships between teacher value orientations, collegiality, and collaboration in school professional learning communities. Social Psychology Of Education: An International Journal, 18(2), 337-354.

OECD (2010), Inspired by Technology, Driven by Pedagogy: A Systemic Approach to Technology-Based School Innovations, Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing, Paris.  DOI:

Odland, G. & Ruzicka, M. (2009). An Investigation into teacher turnover in international schools. Journal Of Research In International Education, 8(1), 5-29.

Owen, S. M. (2015). Teacher professional learning communities in innovative contexts: “Ah hah moments,” “passion” and “making a difference” for student learning. Professional Development In Education, 41(1), 57-74.

Rigelman, N. M. & Ruben, B. (2012). Creating foundations for collaboration in schools: Utilizing professional learning communities to support teacher candidate learning and visions of teaching. Teaching And Teacher Education: An International Journal Of Research And Studies, 28(7), 979-989.

Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Wallace, M. & Thomas, S. (2006). Professional learning communities: A review of the literature. Journal Of Educational Change, 7(4), 221-258. doi:10.1007/s10833-006-0001-8

Thompson, M. & Goe, L. (2009). Models for effective and scalable teacher professional development. ETS Research Report Series, 2009(1), i-35.

Vescio, V., Ross, D. & Adams, A. (2008). A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 80–91.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s