Global Perspectives: Professional Learning Communities in International Schools

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Community building must become the heart of any school improvement.
~Thomas Sergiovanni

International schools worldwide share one objective: to educate their students. As an elementary administrator who has worked in a variety of international and American schools, I can think of no better way of doing this than with Professional Learning Communities. International schools are known for bringing together teachers and students from a multitude of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. While this is one of the main reasons that I personally enjoy being part of an international community, it can lead to large gaps in student learning and teaching pedagogy. 

The Professional Learning Community approach sees both teachers and students as learners. Teams of teachers at all levels are trained in learning discussions which use student data and essential questions to make informed decisions to enable all students to be successful. By working collaboratively and focusing on student learning, teachers are also given opportunities to grow as professionals.

Implementing Professional Learning Communities (PLC's) into international schools is the main focus of the well-written and informative book, Global Perspectives. The book maintains that PLC's are collaborative programs that are student-centered and learner-focused. They operate systematically and schoolwide in order to meet the learning needs of all students and help them have greater success.

Global Perspectives: Professional Learning Communities in International Schools

The premise of PLC’s maintains that all students can be successful when teachers and staff take a collaborative approach and work for positive student results. Written by educators who currently work in overseas schools, Global Perspectives details the process of implementing PLC's in international schools, what can be gained from them, and why they are the best approach for 21st education. The book also includes the journeys of two well-known international schools and the steps that they took to implement their own school-wide professional learning communities.

As an international educator now working in my 7th school and country, I am a firm believer in the PLC approach to education. In the overseas environment where students and teachers come and go, the need for bridging gaps, focusing on student growth and achievement, and working as a member of a system that puts individual student success first is needed now more than ever so that students can find their way in a competitive world market.

Global Perspectives is easy to follow with its practical and meaningful advice, recommendations, and scenarios for implementing PLC’s in international schools. The book acts as a useful guide for preparing schools to overcome obstacles and take on the challenges of becoming learner-focused and high achieving. With an in-depth focus on international schools, teachers, and students, the book addresses the important idea that learning, not teaching should be the primary focus for all, and while teachers work collaboratively to ensure student growth, students must also commit to owning their learning. 

I recommend this informative book for those international schools wanting to take on the challenge of transforming their school into a great learning environment; one that encompasses the ideas, knowledge, and strategies put forth in Global Perspectives.

Shirley Hord, an expert on school leadership, came up with perhaps the most efficient description of the strategy for Professional Learning Communities: “Three words explain the concept: Professionals coming together in a group—a community—to learn.”

A collaborative team of educators at the American School of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. From Global Perspectives: Professional Learning Communities in International Schools
A collaborative team of educators at the American School of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Photo: Jill Dobbe


Jill Dobbe is the Assistant Elementary Principal of American School of Tegucigalpa. You can read our interviews with her here:
Life as an Overseas Educator: Kids, Camels, and Cairo 
#TeachAbroadBecause’s the best of all lifestyles! 
Book Review: Here We Are & There We Go 

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