AWEJ Volume.5 Number.3, 2014                                                                    Pp.142-153

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Learning Circles: Promoting Collaborative Learning Culture for Teacher
Professional Development

 

Majida “Mohammed Yousef” Fahmi Dajani

English Language Supervisor at Al-Eman Schools
&
Al-Quds-Open University
Jerusalem, Palestine

 

Abstract
This case study examined Palestinian English language teachers’ views of the implementation of learning circles (LCs) and their impact on instructional practices and on promoting a collaborative learning culture for teacher professional development. These learning circles involved designated English language teachers teaching from fifth to tenth grade coming together twice a month for six hours during the one year leadership and teacher development program (LTD) to reflect on and share their insights, experiences,  difficulties and challenges as leaders of change. Learning circles in the LTD program aimed at providing powerful opportunities for growth and professional development.The data sources included semi-structured interviews, observation and analysis of teacher participation, presentations and reflections. The data also included several sub-questions that this study set out to be answered and explored by the teachers orally and through emails. A total of forty Palestinian teachers participated in this study. Half of the teachers were from Ramallah district and half from Qabatya-Palestine. The results of this study were a narrative description of teachers’ views of the implementation of learning circles used to impact their instructional practices and their professional development. The data from the interviews and the observation of teachers’ participation and presentations suggested that teachers have positive views towards learning circles that support and positively affect their instructional practices and professional development. Teachers’ reflection revealed that LCs refined their teaching practices and encouraged them to create a collaborative culture that often leads to professional development. They helped them explore new methods and techniques to advance their professional practices. Through learning circles, English language teachers share their best practices in a safe, supportive and collaborative environment.
KeyWordsCulture of collaboration, learning circles, learning communities, professional development, teacher expertise

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Dr. Majida Dajani is an assistant professor of Teaching English as a Foreign Language at AlQuds Open University. I am also an English language supervisor at Al-Eman Schools, Jerusalem.
Currently, She is working as a consultant and in-service teacher trainer on a project called
leadership and teacher development program (LTD) with the Palestinian Ministry of Education
and the AMIDEAST. She has participated in many conferences inside and outside Palestinian
context. She has participated in setting the guidelines of “English for Palestine (EFP)” from
Grade 1-12 and she was a member of the Palestinian English language curriculum team. She was
a member of the Palestinian Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language
(PATEFL). She is currently working on two science research with San Francisco University.