Source: Professional Development in Education, Volume 36, Issue 1 & 2 March 2010, pages 307 - 323.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
Continuing learning is central to the professions of teaching and teacher education. Research that explores the nature of professional learning and the conditions that promote it is limited.
In this article, the author examines her own involvement and that of other teachers and teacher educators in five practice-based research studies in terms of their professional learning and border pedagogy.
The following question is addressed in this meta-analysis: Does crossing the border between contexts promote and/or enhance teachers and teacher educators' professional learning?
The author played a key role in each project and offer an 'insider' perspective through an autobiographical narrative based on self-study.
Project 1: teacher educators border-crossing to learn from teachers
The first research project investigated teacher educators' construction of knowledge for teacher education. In this project, teacher educators involved in partnerships between schools and universities. Both the teacher educators and the collaborating teachers described the knowledge 'learnt' as being about the 'real' work of the teacher in the classroom with its focus on the practical.
Project 2: teacher educators border-crossing and working in unfamiliar ways
At the University of Melbourne, a Memorandum of Agreement was drawn up between key schools and the university. The study described here sought to identify the extent to which the principles outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding were achieved within the first 18 months of operation of the Key School Network.
Project 3: retraining teachers through border-crossing
The B.Ed. (Hons) in-service degree was a full-time programme to which teachers were seconded on full pay to convert a three-year to a four-year teacher education qualification. The rationale underpinning the programme was to promote teacher self-evaluation and classroom-based research.
Project 4: highly accomplished teachers border-crossing to promote other teachers' learning
Within Western Australia a trial conducted in 1997 resulted in the appointment of approximately 225 teachers to Level 3 promotional positions within their own schools. The role was defined around the induction of new teachers and supporting team-building among staff and the wider community through informal and formal means, such as through action research and curriculum development.
Project 5: teacher educators and teachers border-crossing to learn together
In this research, six 'academic associates' and two teachers from the Murdoch University Roundtable formed a collaborative research group to investigate issues arising from their work in the, 'Innovative Links between Schools and Universities' project (Grundy et al., 1999). Innovative Links emphasizes collaborative, team and partnership approaches. The research was collaborative and self-reflective and conducted by teacher educators studying their own work as 'academic associates'.
Each project involved crossing a border between professional knowledge contexts, and explores the 'journey' metaphor of professional learning.
The metaphors of passport and visa are used to explore the identities and purposes for the professional learning 'journey'. Further metaphors for ways of 'travelling' are used to interrogate the significance of identity and purpose in professional learning journeys that involve border-crossing.
In conclusion, the use of metaphors for people who travel through space is explored here to try to illustrate the features of a professional learning journey. During a lifetime of travelling through professional knowledge contexts, professional learning through the acquisition of personal practical knowledge is shaped by the professional knowledge context and access to different personal practical knowledge contexts. Professional learning can also be shaped by the way in which the traveller engages in the journey.
Grundy, S. , Jasman, A. , Mountford, A. , Newbound, P. , Philips, A. , Robison, J. , Strickland, L. andTomazos, D. (1999) Exploring an emerging landscape: a metaphor for university academics working with, in and for schools. Australian Educational Researcher 26:(3) , pp. 37-56.