Instructional Learning Teams: A Case Study

Jonathan L. Brendefur, Brian Whitney, Roger A. Stewart, Joshua Pfiester, Julia Zarbinisky


Changing teacher practices to improve student learning is a challenge. For teachers’ practices to change, faculties within schools must build communities of practice. However, supporting teachers’ collaborative learning within a Professional Learning Team can be an elusive challenge. We found through the Instructional Learning Team (ILT) model of professional development that teachers have a focused model to make effective changes to their practice. ILTs promote school improvement by providing a process through which teachers collaboratively focus on sustained reflection about student learning tasks, instruction, and student work using the Japanese Lesson Study and critiquing their work using Newmann’s (1996) Intellectual Quality framework. We followed two teams of teachers over a semester and qualitatively examined changes in four elements of professional learning: shared ideas and values, focus on student learning, reflective dialogue, and deprivatization of practice. Through the ILT process all four elements of professional learning communities increased. This process of changing practice through examining instructional tasks, practices and student work has a direct impact on helping teachers move toward implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).


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Copyright (c) 2014 Jonathan L. Brendefur, Brian Whitney, Roger A. Stewart, Joshua Pfiester, Julia Zarbinisky

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)  Email:

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