Teacher professional learning communities provide environments in which teachers engage in regular research and collaboration. They have been found effective as a means for connecting professional learning to the day-to-day realities faced by teachers in the classroom. In this article, the authors draw on survey data collected in primary schools serving 71 villages in rural Gansu Province as well as transcripts from in-depth interviews with 30 teachers. Findings indicate that professional learning communities penetrate to some of China's most resource-constrained schools but that their nature and development are shaped by institutional supports, principal leadership, and teachers' own initiative. © 2009 Sage Publications.
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