The Implementations of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in Beijing and Ontario Schools
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Since the knowledge-based economy has become a fashion over the last few decades, the concept of the professional learning community (PLC) has started being accepted by educational institutions and governments as an effective framework to improve teachers’ collective work and collaboration. The purpose of this research was to compare and contrast the implementations of PLCs between Beijing schools and Ontario schools from principals’ personal narratives. In order to discover the lessons and widen the scope to understand the PLC, this research applied qualitative design to collect the data from two principal participants in each location by semistructured interviews. Four themes emerged: (a) structure and technology, (b) identity and climate, (c) task and support, and (d) change and challenge. This research found that the root of the characteristics of the PLCs in Beijing and Ontario was the different existing teaching and learning systems as well as the test systems. Teaching Research Groups (TRGs) is one of the systems that help Chinese to organize routine time and input resources to improve teachers’ professional development. However, Canadian schools lack a similar system that guarantees the time and resources. Moreover, standardized test plays different roles in China and Canada. In China, standardized tests, such as the college entrance examination, are regarded as the important purpose of education, whereas Ontario principals saw the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) as a tool rather than a primary purpose. These two main differences influenced principals’ beliefs, attitudes, strategies, and practices. The implications based on this discovery provide new perspectives for principals, teachers, policy makers, and scholars to widen and deepen the research and practice of the PLC.