UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teacher professional learning : focusing on a wholistic experience linking the mind and the heart through relational learning Kelly, Jennifer Lynn


This case study examined professional learning experiences of ten teachers engaged in a provincially-developed professional learning community (PLC) over a period of two years that was formed as part of the Changing Results for Young Readers (CR4YR) British Columbia provincial initiative. From a relational learning perspective, I explored how learning in community fulfilled social and practical needs for teachers that may explain why and how they enjoyed, gained from, and came to appreciate and value their collective professional learning. Data included transcripts of semi-structured individual and focus group interviews, as well as researcher observations. Data were analyzed using inductive and deductive processes and embraced an appreciative lens. Three main themes emerged: being authentic as a person and professional, building a relational culture of learners, and the learning process through change of practice. Viewing the experiences of the teachers in this case study from a relational lens highlighted the importance of creating space and time for teachers to engage wholistically in their collective learning, forming bonds of trust, care, safety, and respect that were essential to their willingness to take the necessary risks to grow and learn, and to feel they were part of a community making a difference with their students and with each other. One of the study’s significant findings describes how teachers can engage in wholistic professional learning, which involves experiences connecting the mind and heart while learning in relation to others. In addition, I suggest that teacher professional learning ought to focus on providing time for professionals to develop learning relationships, encourage teachers to theorize, and allow on-going inquiry for teachers. This research shifts the focus of attention toward teachers’ experiences of their learning in PLCs, offering an illustrative example of how teachers’ relationships provide rich ground for meaningful professional learning.

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