SA Journal of Education, Vol 40, No 1 (2020)

The role of professional learning communities to support teacher development: A social practice theory perspective

Jennifer Feldman


In this article I discuss the potential of professional learning communities (PLCs) within the South African education context using a practice theory lens. PLCs are presented by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) as collaborative learning communities that are fundamentally social and should be established in all schools (DBE, Republic of South Africa, 2015). In order to consider how PLCs could be used within the current South African schooling context to support teacher development, the article provides an exposition of practice theory that is exemplified by a discussion on how PLCs can support teachers’ pedagogical practice. Drawing on practice theory that states that the world is constructed and ordered by social practices rather than individuals and their attitudes, behaviour, or choices, the article suggests that the conceptual framework of social practice theory provides a productive way forward in conceptualising the social nature of teachers’ pedagogical practices and consequently ways in which sustained improvement in teaching and learning can be analysed and understood as a social and individual phenomenon.

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Jennifer Feldman -

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