Theses Doctoral

Using Freire’s Culture Circles as a Framework for Professional Learning Communities: an Action Research Study

Diaz, Lauren Diaz J.

Schools in New Jersey are beginning to transform their middle school music programs from a general music based curriculum to an elective, performance-based curriculum. These changes bring new challenges to music educators as they work to expand their performance-based curriculums to include what was taught in general music. Adding to the work that needs to be done to adapt performance-based classes, teachers are beginning to feel frustrated that their needs and the needs of their students are getting lost with the added addition of assessment guidelines and other administrative requirements.

The aim of this research project was to work within the framework of Paulo Freire’s Culture circle to support teachers during scheduled Professional Learning Community meetings. Through a series of eight bi-weekly meetings, a group of four music teachers and a dance instructor works to identify generative themes present in their teaching practice. Through problem posing dialogue they worked to understand their generative theme. The teachers in this Professional Learning Community worked together to create and implement individual action plans to address their generative theme. This group of teachers work together in support of each other while they were working within their separate contexts and classrooms.

This collaborative action research study positioned the researcher as a facilitator, one who supported the needs of the group and questioned long standing beliefs that help propel the conversation forward. Teachers reflected that they saw a change in what they believed the purpose of these meetings was. They found in impactful to focus on their teaching practices rather than the more administrative tasks involved in teaching. Teachers also reported that by dialoguing about their teacher and the action plans they were working on, they felt more successful in its implementation. Through their action plans, this group of teachers began to see possibilities to have their students create and work in small groups that was not evident before. While the teachers in this study felt an impact of the culture circle, there is more to learn from this group of teachers, and the possibilities culture circles have to effect positive change in teachers and student learning.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Abeles, Harold F.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 28, 2020