01 SES 07 C, Factors Affecting the Professional Development of Women Educators
Education at Risk, which results from an unstable world which extends into school, is connected with the perception of uncertainty by the individuals who have to face these challenges. They can be risks because the personal needs or interests could be violated or the person could fail coping with these challenges. The article links the understanding of risk with the idea of uncertainty which is experienced in the face of risk. It approaches the question of emergence, location and management of uncertainty from the authors' research results on Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). PLCs are gaining high recognition both nationally and internationally and in educational practice as well as in scientific discourses. They are highly ranked as a promising instrument for professionalization within human resource development in schools. PLCs are known to respond to school challenges and in the end aim at teaching development and thus successful learning and development of students (e.g. Bonsen & Rolff, 2006; Kansteiner, 2016; Vescio & Adams, 2015). PLCs are interpreted slightly differently in their characteristics by different authors but all in all they can be pointed to four characteristics: (1) joint responsibility for systematic cooperation in the service of individual learning, (2) close reference to professional practice and deprivatization of this practice in openness and transparency, (3) shared values and goals in joint work with the concurrent possibility of setting individual priorities in one’s own development processes, and (4) self-responsibility for a goal-oriented professionalization process with an effect on real change in professional practice (Hord, 1997; Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 1998; Rosenbusch, 2005; Bonsen & Rolff, 2006; Huber & Hader-Popp, 2006; Wiliam, 2007; Gallimore, Ermeling & Saunders, 2009).
In the context of the work with and in PLCs of school leaders and on the basis of the findings of two research projects, HeadsUP and PRoFLüP, the phenomenon of uncertainty becomes apparent in regard of several aspects. The reflection on it leads to the question of the role of educational science and the scientists involved in the projects. Following the aspect of uncertainty against the background of the empirical findings and practical experiences, three levels of uncertainty can be identified in the context of the project: (1) uncertainty as a characteristic of the current situation of organizations and individuals in the educational system, (2) uncertainty as a moment that arises from the logic of the PLC concept itself and is experienced in the process of implementation and the realization in the group work, and (3) uncertainty as a result of the underlying collaboration of school leaders with the university as external supplier, from which uncertainty arises because of the conflict with the logic of the system and because of role confusion the researchers cause. In addition, the researchers themselves face the challenge of uncertainty because of variable processes which are also determined by the collaboration.
The empirical findings on which the reflection on uncertainty is based derive, on the one hand, from the accompanying evaluation of the HeadsUP project. Here, experience was captured at several points in time in the sense of a formative evaluation. For this purpose, qualitative questionnaire and interview data were collected from existing formative surveys over the three years, evaluated with the structuring content analysis according to Kuckartz, 2018. Empirical findings also derive from the ProFLüP project which conducts accompanying research on the establishment of PLCs of school leaders. The iterative research process generates findings according to the Grounded Theory Methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1996; Breuer, 2017).
Educational science and educational research can react to these findings at various levels: (1) It is important to question the extent to which there is actually an increase in risks in the educational system or whether only the perception and classification of risks has changed and uncertainty is the felt. (2) Furthermore, strategies for dealing with the uncertainty of individuals, whether they are professional actors such as teachers and school leaders or the clients of educational institutions such as students and their parents, organizations and educational systems must be critically examined and analyzed. A critical view on working with PLCs is the example in this paper. (3) Besides, it is important to identify uncertainty potentials in one's own project contexts and to work on them together with all who are involved. Engrossing the cooperation of the school system with the field of scientific research/university in order to elaborate educational practice also means all processes are perceived from different logics. Suitable instruments to reflect on the contradictions and deal with the emerging uncertainty need to be applied.
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