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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Jacqueline Mosselson

Second Advisor

Cristine Smith

Third Advisor

Leah Wing

Subject Categories

Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching | Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Elementary Education and Teaching | International and Comparative Education | Other Teacher Education and Professional Development


Teachers in (post)crisis contexts face an array of de-motivating factors such as insecurity, lack of pay, difficult working conditions, minimal leadership, and feeling undervalued (Johnson, 2006; OECD, 2009; Shriberg, 2007). To bolster their motivation and support their teaching, teachers in these settings need a forum where they feel valued as professionals (Asimeng-Boahene, 2003; Bennel & Akyeampong; Kirk & Winthrop, 2007). One model of teacher professional development (TPD) known as "Teacher Learning Circles"(TLCs) is currently being implemented in Katanga province in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for early grade reading teachers. TLCs strive to help teachers adopt innovative teaching techniques and create supportive environments. This study examines teachers’ perspectives, using a "crystallized qualitative case study" approach, how these TLCs operate in varied (post)crisis contexts in the DRC where teachers describe their experiences with content, instructional practices and teacher-community support structures of the TLCs (Ellingson, 2008; Rappleye, 2006). Three major themes arose from the data; Motivating factors for teachers to remain in the profession; the school environment factors that impacted teachers day-to-day; and TLC elements related to technical, social, and emotional collegial assistance. By examining these themes across five schools, the TLCs fell into three specific categories: well-functioning TLCs (wTLCs), struggling community-school TLCs (sTLCs), and conflict-impacted sTLCs. Overall findings suggest that, in wTLCs, communities are more stable, teachers effectively manage challenging working conditions, view themselves as professionals, are supported by their communities, participate in an encouraging school community that is fostered by the Head Teacher (HT), and regularly participate in sustained TLCs. Overall, wTLC teachers are able to adapt and translate what they learn in the TLCs into their classrooms. sTLCs appear to be located in two types of contexts, one indirectly impacted by conflict and another that actively experienced consequences of conflict. In both communities, teachers may not be able to overcome feeling overwhelmed and undervalued. In these schools, working conditions appear to be extreme, where teachers’ physical, social and emotional needs are not met. The study suggests future avenues of TPD research, which include studies that examine culturally relevant forms of TPD in times of crisis and trauma.