ERG SES G 14, Professional Development and Education
The aim of this paper is to compare two types of teachers’ communities: top-down and down-top communities, regarding to individual and common level of effectiveness upon teachers’ professional development, learning circumstances, procedures and outcomes, as well as pedagogical possibilities and performance. I focus my attention at teachers’ communities of practice already existing due to the structure of the Romanian educational system and some other communities came into existence from the participants’ initiative after participating at alternative education training. Firsts can be described as Lave–Wenger ’s (1991) communities of practice, seconds had more to do with professional learning communities (Stoll at al. 2006, Stoll & Louis 2007, Samaras 2008). In these two types of communities learning however occurs, but the main question is that is it possible to change these communities in real professional learning communities. I was also concerned in which are the strong points of these communities, they count on and which are the weak points they have to promote in the participants view.
The paper presents on the theoretical background of social constructivism (Vygotsky 1978; Cole & Engeström 1993, Parker & Goicoechea 2000) the learning forms and possibilities enabled/permitted by the meetings and cooperation with others in the course of professional development of teachers. I studied teachers’ views about their own professional development in top-down and also down-top organized professional communities which have already exists in the Romanian educational system respectively perform with success from years as a “third way” organization (Kozma 2006). On the basis of Paavola and Hakkarainen (2005), Hakkarainen and Paavola (2009), Scardamalia and Bereiter (2003) work I analyse the emergence of three metaphors of learning: acquisition, participation, knowledge-creation in these two types of professional communities.
In a social constructivist view I consider teachers’ professional knowledge as a social construction, therefore the social context, social interactions has a great impact in its formation (Niemi 2005, Stoll at al. 2006, Kotschy 2006, Stoll & Louis 2007, Samaras et al. 2008). A lot of researches prove that the most effective teacher-trainings are those which are incorporated in real life of teachers or schools and teachers got feedback upon their work. Professional learning communities if they are composed from engaged teachers can provide this feedback. Due to the special ethnical situation of teachers I investigate social interactions and professional communities have an extra function: not just developing professional identities, but also ethnical identities, not just supporting the embedment in a professional community but also in an ethnical community.
I investigate characteristics and main differences of professional learning in these communities, the appearance of acquisition, participation and knowledge-creation metaphors in teachers’ cognition, in their narratives about pedagogical practice, professional development and professional communities.
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