Cultivating a Teacher Community of Practice for Sustainable Professional Development: Beyond Planned Efforts

Mar. 15, 2015

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 21, No. 1, 4–21, 2015
(Review by the Portal Team)

This article reports a series of planned efforts on cultivating a group of teachers of English as a second language (ESL) into a community of practice (CoP) for sustainable professional development over a period of 10 months.

The participants were 18 teachers of English as a second language (ESL) and four coaches from Hong Kong. The teachers include seven males and eleven females. Furthermore, there were four coaches including the coordinator of the institute, two facilitators, and one researcher.
Data were collected through field notes, reflective journals, position papers, and evaluative comments.


This case study shows that planned efforts enabled teachers from different backgrounds to learn and develop as a professional and as a CoP. This community could be developed through different stages , which include forging group identity in the midst of tensions arising out of different personalities and/or backgrounds, building common goals, resolving cognitive and psychological dissonances for professional learning and development, as well as assuming communal responsibility for sustainable professional development.

The authors learn that sensitivity, honesty, self-awareness, and individual commitment of the participating teachers helped resolve tensions and dissonances arising out of different personalities and different teaching approaches.
The different pathways for their professional learning and development show that it is really up to individual teachers, irrespective of their age, gender, years of experience, and training background, to open up their mind to absorb, synthesize, and integrate different teaching strategies to intrigue the mind and nourish the heart of their students.

Finally, findings demonstrate that sustainable teacher professional development requires strong individual commitment and support from schools, parents, and the wider educational community.

Updated: Aug. 15, 2017