01 SES 07 C, The Value of Knowledge in Learning Organisations
Agency involves practitioners in taking a stance and being able to inﬂuence their work and professional identity (Eteläpelto et. al., 2013) - a ‘capability’ which is continuously constructed, something teachers can recognise and is evidenced in an ability to self-regulate (Soini, Pietarinen, Toom and Pyhältö, 2015). Agency emphasises commitment, responsibility, strong judgements, self-evaluation, connection to the common good and attention to what people do - which prompts the idea that when studying agency, attention should be paid to some form of interplay between person and practice or culture (Edwards, 2015).It is proposed understanding individual learning and development situated in environmental affordances for thinking and acting (Cole, 1996), accounting for the inter-woven, co-evolving nature of individual and collective instantiations of learning and professional identities (Edwards, 2015) and for the importance of forming a deep understanding of the relationship between how teachers position themselves and position others in the activity of learning within the school-context, and the institutional, cultural and historical trajectories of the emergent discursive practices they operate with within the context of the school-based learning activities.
This proposal introduces an exploration of the relationship between different approaches and understandings of collaborative work in teaching for inclusion, relevant in the European lanscape of educational practices, and teachers’ professional agency in Romanian educational settings.
Two research questions are addressed: (1) what role does collaborative knowledge work play in professional development and learning to teach for inclusion and diversity in Romanian inclusive schools?, and (2) to what effect on teachers’ professional agency?
The proposed goal is that of understanding the reasoning in actions involving teachers working on producing everyday pedagogical responses to the challenges of Romanian inclusive classrooms and examine the dynamic of interactions between the various voices playing into the narratives of learning to teach for diversity and inclusion, at various levels of pedagogical decision, and their effect on teachers’ understanding of collaborative work and professional agency.
Our data sample includes semi-structured interviews with school teachers and school managers exploring the various collaborative practices and meanings of collaboration between teachers in the school setting, voice recorded conversations between teachers collaboratively planning, reflecting on and exploring ways forward in their classroom teaching, as well as meeting, classroom and school artefacts including teacher lesson plans and notes. Participants in the interviews were teachers and managers from three lower secondary schools located in three different counties in Romania. Analysis involved chronotopical analysis (Bakhtin, 1981; Bloome et al., 2009) and Positioning theory (Davis & Harré, 1990) for the interview data, and Sociocultural Discourse Analysis methodology - SCDA (Mercer, 2004; Warwick et al, 2016; Vrikky et al, 2017) for the conversational data.
Findings in this analysis indicate that the meaning of collaborative knowledge work is contextually constructed - making visible the importance of understanding the norms of practice, motives, power relations, community shaping the chronotopes of collaborative work and of teaching and learning. Conversational data indicate that a shift in teachers’ perspective on teaching for inclusion and diversity may take place through dialogical, purposeful, and learner centred collaborative knowledge work, shifting from positioning students as problematic to visualizing what they are capable of doing. This finding, however, needs further discussion and investigation, as it is also noted that various collaborative practices and the respective connotations they contextualize are not conducive of this particular shift in teachers’ perspective and sense of professional agency. Professional agency is structured in the teachers’ language as an interplay between person and practice either by recognising, interpreting and responding to different phenomena in practice, or by corroborating various demands in the practice with the needs of the actors in the contexts of action. Certain forms of collaborative knowledge work (e.i. lesson study) prompt opportunities for descriptive and interpretative learning processes (Vrikky et al. 2017), along with an augmented scope of conversation – to include talk of teacher’s own reasoning (noticing and reflecting) and emotions, making visible the relational, dialogical aspect of teachers’ professional agency. Others, instead, are coupled with a variety of instantiations of inhibited professional agency. Professional agency is historically constructed, as teachers position what matters to them in relation to the demands of the practice they recognize, not a representation of a fixed self. It, therefore requires constant interpretation. This presents significant implications against notions of accountability (i.e. of professionalism) and regarding professional development programs.
Bakhtin, M. (1981). The dialogic imagination. Four essays by M. M. Bakhtin. Austin: University of Texas Press. Bloome, D., Beierle, M., Grigorenko, M., Goldman, S. (2009). Learning over Time: Uses of Intercontextuality, Collective Memories, and Classroom Chronotopes in the Construction of Learning Opportunities in a Ninth-Grade Language Arts Classroom, Language and Education. 23(4), 313 – 334. Cole, M. (1996). Cultural Psychology. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press. Davies, B., Harre, R. (1990). Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves, Journal of the Theory of Social Behaviour. 20 (1), 43 – 63. Edwards, A. (2015). Recognising and realising teachers’ professional agency, Teachers and Teaching. 21(6), 779-784. Eteläpelto, A., Vähäsantanen, K., Hökkä, P., & Paloniemi, S. (2013). What is agency? Conceptualizing professional agency at work. Educational Research Review, 10, 45–65. Mercer, N. (2004). Sociocultural discourse analysis: analysing classroom talk as a social mode of thinking, Journal of Applied Linguistics. 1(2), 137-168. Soini, T., Pietarinen, J., Toom, A. & Pyhältö, K. (2015). What contributes to first year student teachers sense of professional agency in the classroom? Teaching and Teachers Theory and Practice. 21(6), 641-659. Vrikki, M., Warwick, P.,, Vermunt, J. D., Mercer, N., Van Halem, N. (2017). Teacher learning in the context of Lesson Study: A video-based analysis of teacher discussions, Teaching and Teacher Education. 61(2017), 211-224. Warwick, P., Vrikki, M., Vermunt, J.D., van Halem, N. (2016). Connecting observations of student and teacher learning: an examination of dialogic processes in Lesson Study discussions in mathematics, ZDM Mathematics Education. 48 (4), 555-569.
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