26 SES 11 A, Professional Learning Networks: Perspectives on achieving sustainability
Professional development can be considered both exclusive and inclusive. Looking at recent findings on professional development, individual professional development often fails to provide solutions to the challenges facing schools today. Stoll (2010), for example, emphasizes that ‘the increased complexity of a fast changing world [which] has brought new challenges for schooling that are too great for those in any one school to address alone’. Engaging in networks benefits its participants in many ways. Underpinning this argument, Rincon-Gallardo and Fullan (2016) draw together strengths of networks. They see potential in two domains: ”First is the large reservoir of resources, expertise, and knowledge that remain dormant, untapped, or underused in classrooms, schools, educational systems […] ‘Ainscow, 2014‘. Second, good ideas that do exist are not tested and further developed [if] they remain in isolated pockets, while groundbreaking inventions and innovations come from people who work together to solve complex problems ‘Isaacson, 2015; Nielsen, 2012’”. Correspondingly Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and Networks (PLN) would appear to support teacher and school learning in a promising way. But the mere existence of networks is unlikely to lead to improved student outcomes (Brown and Poortman, 2017). As a result questions exist such as how PLCs and PLN can work in an effective and sustainable way?
Brown and Poortman (2018) and Little (1990) indicated several factors of sustainability for PLN work. Namely having a clear focus, fostering collaboration, supporting individual and group learning, using reflective professional inquiry and being accompanied by a supportive leadership. The latter, in particular, plays a crucial part in successful professional development collaborations (Robinson et al. 2007). School leaders are required make available and coordinate the time, space and budget required for working in networks. For example by ensuring that the school timetable facilitates collaboration between teachers or that there are formal and informal processes for upskilling teachers.
What sounds simple in theory often seems complex in practice, however. Hence, this symposium brings together perspectives from four different countries. The first paper discusses findings from a comparative case study conducted in England and Austria about professional learning networks and the role of school leaders as well as boundary work related knowledge transfer back into schools. The second paper examines a new approach of professional learning with phenomenologically oriented vignettes. The two authors discuss findings from their work with professional learning communities in Italian schools. Further, the third paper focus on schools in Switzerland, which are involved in professional networks but only within a small community – with the potential danger that they become a “closed system”. Along that argument, the authors engage with the controversies surrounding PLNs.
Brown, C., & Poortman, C. L. (Eds.). (2018). Networks for learning: Effective collaboration for teacher, school and system improvement. New York: Routledge. Rincón-Gallardo,S. & Fullan, M. (2016). Essential features of effective networks in education. In: Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 1 Issue: 1. pp.5-22 Little, J. W. (1990). The persistence of privacy: Autonomy and initiative in teachers' profession-al relations. Teachers college record, 91(4), 509-536. Stoll, L. (2010). Connecting learning communities: Capacity building for systemic change. In Sec ond international handbook of educational change (pp. 469-484). Springer, Dordrecht. Robinson, V. M., Hohepa, M., & Lloyd, C. (2007). School leadership and student outcomes: Identifying what works and why (Vol. 41). Winmalee: Australian Council for Education-al Leaders.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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