01 SES 05 C, Professional Development for Change
This paper reports on a study that addresses the identity coaching programmeas a learning platform for employees working in educational and health care organizations. Amid the economic, managerial and societal challenges of the 21st century, many work organizations, such as those in education and health care, are increasingly expected to effectively produce high-quality services, be productive, and respond to external accountability demands and societal needs (e.g. Billett, 2011; Lindblad & Goodson, 2011). Therefore, organizations must continually develop their work and management practices, working cultures, operations and organizational structures (Lindblad & Goodson, 2011; Tynjälä, 2013). As a consequence, employees (leaders and employees) are required to continually develop their skills and competences, cross traditional professional boundaries, and transform their professional identities and roles (Billett, 2011; Carroll & Levy, 2010; Helleve, 2010; Hökkä & Eteläpelto, 2014; Vähäsantanen & Eteläpelto, 2011). Meeting these kinds of multiple challenges for working and work-related learning is challenging for employees. Many scholars have argued that facing external demands and suggestions regarding one’s work and identities can be a threat to an individual’s well-being, satisfaction, and commitment at work (Ballet & Kelchtermans, 2008; Day & Kington, 2008; Vähäsantanen & Eteläpelto, 2011). All this implies that the methods and tools needed to support employees amid continuous changes should be available so that their identity transformations, professional learning and well-being are supported.
This study is part of a development and research project seeking to strengthen professional agency and further work-related learning through mutually constructive interventions at the individual, collective and organizational levels. The interventions designed for implementation in the education and health care contexts consist of the following: (i) an identity coaching programme, (ii) a leadership coaching programme and (iii) a dialogical work conference.
Theoretically, we understand that professional agency is practiced and manifested when professional subjects and/or communities exert an influence, make choices and take stances in ways that affect their work and/or professional identities (Eteläpelto, Vähäsantanen, Hökkä & Paloniemi, 2014). For its part. professional identity denotes one’s perception of oneself as a professional actor; it is understood to encompass professional interests, goals, values and perceptions of meaningful responsibilities (e.g. Akkerman & Meijer, 2011; Beijaard, Meijer & Verloop, 2004).
Our research project focuses on professional agency and its enhancement because recent studies have strongly emphasized the fact that professional agency exercised by individuals and collectives emerges as salient in the processes of work-related learning, including the cultivation of professional practices and identities (Billett, 2011; Priestley, Edwards & Priestley, 2012). This implies that in order to generate work-related learning, we must enhance professional agency at the individual and collective levels. Simultaneously, new management approaches offer few opportunities for employees to exercise agency over their work (e.g. Hökkä & Vähäsantanen, 2013). In this situation, it seems necessary to find new management and intevention practices that support employees’ professional agency.
The focus of this study is the identity coaching programme. The main purpose of the programme was to strengthen and support the renegotiation of subjects’ professional identities by strengthening their professional agency. Simultaneously, it aimed to support participants in clarifying their work roles amid changes, strengthen their professional agency in work communities, and increase their well-being at work. The study portrays i) the main learning outcomes of the identity coaching programme and ii) the substantive suggestions for developing the programme described by the participants.
Akkerman, S. F. & Meijer, P. C. (2011). A dialogical approach to conceptualizing teacher identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(2), 308–319. Ballet, K. & Kelchtermans, G. (2008). Workload and willingness to change: Disentangling the experience of intensified working conditions. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 40(1), 47–67. Beijaard, D., Meijer, P. C. & Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(2), 107–128. Billett, S. (2011). Subjectivity, self and personal agency in learning through and for work. In M. Malloch, L. Cairns, K. Evans, & B. O’Connor (Eds.), The international handbook of workplace learning (pp. 60−72). London: Sage. Carroll, B. & Levy, L. (2010). Leadership development as identity construction. Management Communication Quarterly, 24(2), 211–231. Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2007). Research methods in education. 6th Edition. London: Routledge. Day, C. & Kington, A. (2008). Identity, well-being and effectiveness: The emotional contexts of teaching. Pedagogy, Culture and Society 16 (1), 7–23. Eteläpelto, A., Vähäsantanen, K., Hökkä, P. & Paloniemi, S. (2013). What is agency? Conceptualizing professional agency at work. Educational Research Review 10, 45–65. Helleve, I. (2010). Theoretical foundations of teachers’ professional development. In J. O. Lindberg & A. D. Olfsson (Eds.), Online learning communities and teacher professional development: Methods for improved education delivery (pp. 1−19). Hershey: IGI Global. Hökkä, P & Eteläpelto, A. (2014). Seeking new perspectives on the development of teacher education: A study of the Finnish context. Journal of Teacher Education, 65(1) 39–52 Hökkä, P. & Vähäsantanen, K. (2013). Agency-centred coupling - a better way to manage an educational organization? International Journal of Leadership in Education. http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1080/13603124.2013.783932 Lindblad, S. & Goodson, I. (2011) (Eds.). Professional knowledge and nal restructuring in Europe. Rotterdam: Sense. Kempster, S. & Iszatt-White, M. (2012). Towards co-constructed coaching. Management Learning, 44(4) 319–336 Priestley, M., Edwards, R. & Priestley, A. (2012). Teacher agency in curriculum making: Agents of change and spaces for manoeuvre. Curriculum Inquiry, 42(2), 191–214. Tynjälä, P. (2013). Toward a 3-P model of workplace learning: A literature review. Vocations and Learning, 6(1), 11–36. Vähäsantanen, K. & Eteläpelto, A. (2011). Vocational teachers’ pathways in the course of a curriculum reform. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 43(3), 291–312.
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