Phase 3 Seminar day


What is professional learning?

Growth in representational knowledge, learning through participation in social groups and learning as assemblages of knowledge practice (Mulcahy 2014)

How do we counter the systemic understanding of professional learning? How do we move from attending courses and completing assigned training?

How can I create a culture of coaching and learning?

How am I helping my PTs grow in their role?

How can I build capacity in everyone else? Do I just spend my time overseeing other people who are doing the work I have delegated to them?

How do we provide more bespoke professional learning? How do we cater for individual’s ‘zone of proximal development’?

Genuine peripheral participation (Wenger)

Reeves model discussion…

  • Reflection on practice = moderation? Self evaluation of teaching? Planning reviews?
  • Experiential learning = teacher leadership? Visiting other classrooms?
  • Cognitive development = professional reading? Short N Sharp?
  • Social learning = working groups? Cluster sessions?

Presentation reflections

  • How do I make my plan a reality?
  • Who has responsibility for professional learning?
  • The 5Cs model?
  • Need to have clarity about aims for individual
  • Ethics – Connor and Pokora 2012, p228
  • Use opportunities already present?
  • How can we work more closely as a cluster?
  • Dialogical relationships (Vikunnen 2013)

  • Consider creating a 360′ evaluation
  • Need to consider how mentee is recording their own learning
  • Achieve model for c+m

  • Moberg & Velasquez 2004 = 7 mentoring obligations – go through these explicitly with mentee??

  • Could use PNI (positive, negative, interesting) to provide consistent discussion format for meetings.
  • Working groups – are they managerial masquerading as organisational?
  • Teacher identity (Mockler) is an important part of coaching conversation

  • Clutterbuck & Megginson, 1999, Mentoring executives and directors

  • See SCEL overview of professional learning
  • Need to consider power relationships. How are / could they impact c&m?
  • Dreyfus model?

  • Consider individual session evaluations as evidence of learning
  • HMIe – opportunities for leadership at all levels
  • Be clear about the purposes of the c+m. For whom?
  • Attitude questionnaire??
  • CLEAR model?

  • Levels of delegation…

  • Need to ask myself lots of Why questions (Tripp) to aid my reflections and writings
  • Coaching = asking the right questions. Mentoring = providing the right answers.


  • DUE IN June 5000 words
  • 4 parts = critical analysis / report on intervention (use subheadings) / critically reflective commentary (on self, on mentee, on wider setting) / critical reflection on own professional learning as a result of module.
  • Remember sub-headings and signposting
  • Remember to complete and update Personal Learning Plan.
  • Need to have sufficient evidence of meetings (at least 6) to be able to critique in assignment
  • Evidence of impact an be qualitative (written reflections, etc)
  • If mentoring more than 1 person, need only use 1 individual for assignment
  • Do I have to do assignment about coaching and mentoring or could I explore professional learning more widely?
  • Include reference to the false starts and problematics of the coaching and mentoring
  • When using a coaching model, be sure to critique the selected model. Why specific acronym?
  • A situational analysis needs to form part of the assignment.
  • Need to create a mentoring contract and reflect upon its creation and content.
  • Make a specific reference to the 7 ethical considerations (Moberg and Valesquez)
  • Reference working definitions of coaching / mentoring
  • Explore mentoring and coaching and what it might / could / should look like. Critique!


  • Ask Karla if I could c+m her in her new role as DHT?
  • Reflect against standards in relation to new role / new perspective
  • Fit into defined remit? Ethics? Contract?Model?
  • Which coaching model will I adopt? Why?

EDUP106 Seminar 3

Seminar 3: Approaches and Strategies to support Professional Learning

Understanding Professional Growth and the Needs of Individuals

Practice Focussed and Work Based Learning

Facilitating Collective Professional Learning

Developing and sharing the plan

Co-coaching and Learning Conversation 3

EDUP106 Phase 3 D1

Task D1

You should now be in a good position to develop your proposal for the coaching/mentoring intervention. To help clarify your thoughts work through the questions on the EDUP106 Project Planning Proforma (1) (Word version available on Canvas) which takes you through the various aspects that you need to consider in detail. Discuss this with your Headteacher or a senior colleague to ensure that you have support for your proposal and have considered any potentially adverse effects of your proposed actions. You are now in a position to approach a colleague or colleagues with you proposal.


EDUP106 Phase 3 C2

Task C2

Educational establishments are often encouraged to develop ‘communities’ in which collaborative and collective learning is nurtured. This notion is based on the important idea of learning occurring through participation in activity, not through acquisition of concepts and skills. Lave and Wenger were instrumental in developing this concept in the early 1990s. The following paper by Etienne Wenger charts the development of the theory:

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246.

Communities of practice

p226: knowing is an act of participation in complex ‘social learning systems’

External definitions of competence can influence our experience OR our experience can influence the external definition of competence

Knowing always involves competence and experience. Learning takes place when the two are in close tension.

Learning is an interplay between social competence and personal experience.

Engagement, imagination and alignment coexist in all social learning systems. It is important to be aware of each and to understand which, if any is more dominant.

Participating in communities of practice is essential to our learning.

Communities of practice define competence:

  1. through joint enterprise (we’re all in this and understand this)
  2. through mutuality (we interact in a certain way)
  3. through a shared repertoire (we all do this and this and this)

community dimensions

Communities of practice should consider (231-232):

  • events – to bring the community together
  • leadership – in various forms and of various things
  • connectivity – ongoing engagement and dialogue with each other
  • membership – critical mass is necessary but too many dilute success
  • projects – doing something tangible to move knowledge and learning forward
  • artifacts – the ‘stuff’ that results from all above

Boundaries are important to learning systems. It is important to define the remit of a community of practice so that their is clear purpose of learning within the group AND their can be exciting learning at the fringes of the group, that is when the purpose of group A begins to overlap with purpose of group B. “A boundary experience is usually an exposure to a foreign competence.”

In social learning systems, communities of practice and their boundaries are complimentary.

boundary dimensions

Identity is crucial to social learning systems because our identities:eour ioour

  • combine our competence and experience
  • enable us to cross boundaries
  • are the vessels through which community and boundary are realised

identity dimensins

Participation in social learning systems…


Concluding remark…


The idea of ‘communities of practice’ has proven attractive to many professional groups, including teachers. Some have turned this idea into a notion of ‘professional learning communities’, which in some schools has been accepted as an inherently desirable objective. However many critical questions have been raised about its premises, and since the 1990s a range of empirical studies have shown problems with the theory. Communities of practice have been shown to have a tendency to reinforce the status quo, be conservative, and not generate or support innovation.


Watson C (2014) Effective professional learning communities? The possibilities for teachers as agents of change in schools, British Educational Research Journal, 40 (1), pp. 18-29.

Effective PLCs Watson

p20: The PLC is therefore a complex phenomenon, each purposefully chosen word of which constitutes an essentially contestable concept but which holistically invites an examination of professional practices and the development of ‘teacher leadership’ in schools.

p20:   For Fendler (2004) then, community becomes ‘a mechanism of governance and a forum for specifying norms and rules of participation’, which legitimises agencies of control.

p21: Bolam et al. (2005) define the ‘effective’ PLC as one which has: ‘the capacity to promote and sustain the learning of all professionals and other staff in the school community with the collective purpose of enhancing pupil learning’ (ibid., p. 30).

According to Bolam et al, there are five characteristics of PLCs (which can and should all be critiqued!)

  1. shared vision and values
  2. Collective responsibility for pupils’ learning.
  3. Reflective professional inquiry.
  4. Collaboration focused on learning.
  5. Group as well as individual professional learning is promoted.

p27: The pervasive discourse of the ‘effective school’ and more latterly the ‘school improvement’ movement with its drive for ‘continuous school improvement’… may impose a narrowly instrumental or technicist agenda focused on pupil attainment as the legitimate aim of the PLC which suppresses the search for diversity, creativity and adaptability, thereby reducing its effectiveness.

p27: The PLC has a potentially significant role to play in these dynamic organisational processes, destabilising the rigidities with which the school as institution surrounds itself—but in order to achieve this it might need to re-examine the meanings attached to those three purposefully chosen words.

There is a growing body of literature looking at this interesting subject area. If you want to explore further some of the critiques and ideas covered in the above see the below book selected from the module wider reading list:

Hughes, J, Jewson, N & and Unwin, L (2007). Communities of Practice: Critical Perspectives, London, Routledge

Make some notes of your thoughts in your journal in preparation for the next seminar day where we will be discussing these concepts in greater detail.

What implications do these readings have on your views of how learning occurs among a group of teachers?

These readings resonate with my evolving thinking about ‘teacher learning’. Without understanding the theory,  I have valued group learning for a long time so these readings are helpful in exploring some of the underpinning theory and rationale.

I think it is interesting to consider the vocabulary (as suggested by Watkins) used and the connotations implied. I am also acutely aware of the business-fying of education and Watkins comments about the ‘school improvement’ agenda are interesting.

How might these shape your future actions in regards to the leading of professional learning within your school/college?

The ‘communities of practice’ model with the discussion of competence, experience, boundaries and identity is certainly helpful in supporting my thinking around the model of professional learning that I want to champion. I found the ‘dimensions’ tables particularly helpful and will refer to these going forward.

I think PLCs are a good concept but not to be taken too literally. The name is not as important as the function and outcome.

What actions might you take to overcome the identified limitations of communities of practice?


For individuals – do I need to consider providing multiple communities of practice that cater for differing individual needs? Each with a clear focus but with potential for boundary overlap?

For communities – is it right that I define the community or should I facilitate ‘self-definition’?

For organisation – is there enough scope within my school to create meaningful communities or do I need to look further afield? Cluster / LC?


EDUP106 Phase 3 C1

Task C1

Although the benefits of working collectively towards a common purpose or outcome in professional learning are widely promoted in current policy, collaboration is not without its problems. Whilst building and developing coaching and mentoring relationships it is important to factor in the human element. While coaching and mentoring models provide a framework around which to design interventions, they cannot predict all facets of behaviour and interaction.


Part 1 in: Thompson, N (2006) People Problems, Hampshire: Palgrave (electronic resource)


p3:For the purposes of this book, a problem is anything that either brings about negatives (pain, suffering distress, anxiety and so on) or blocks positives (health, fulfilment, satisfaction, progress in achieving our goals and so on) or a mixture of the two.

p4: There is a close relationship between problems and unmet needs, and it is a two-way relationship.

Relationships involve a number of dimensions

  • Power We should be wary of seeing power as something an individual either has or does not have.
  • Conflict , in reality, relationships can be characterized by conflict over a very long period of time without ever breaking down.
  • Communication Relationships exist through communication and are also a major channel of communication
  • Identity Our sense of who we are arises, in part at least, from our relationships.

p5: Indeed, it is very commonly the case that someone causing problems is also experiencing problems.

p6: All action is interaction means that we do not operate in a vacuum. What I do is influenced by the actions of others around me, and my actions in turn will influence, to a certain extent at least, the actions of others.

p7: A key problem-solving skill, then, is the ability to resist the temptation to rush into attempting to provide solutions before we are clear what problem it is that we are dealing with.

p8: take the problem to where the solution lies

p10: There is little point in our trying to impose our own solution on someone unless that person is committed to that particular solution.

PRECISE practice

an acronym for partnership-based, realistic, empowering, creative, integrated, systematic and effective practice. This is a framework that I have devised to try and get across the point that good practice in problem solving needs to fit in with these seven areas…

Partnership based (p14)

  • There are also ethical considerations about whether we have the right to try and impose a solution on somebody else.
  • In some circumstances, our role will be to help people understand how best to move forward and then leave them to implement the plan themselves.
  • But in other circumstances, we will also have a role in working in partnership with them actually to implement the plan itself.

Realistic (p14-15)

  • we need to be realistic in the sense of making sure that our proposed solutions are workable
  • to avoid the unhelpful extremes of pessimism and negativity on the one hand, and naïve optimism on the other.

Empowering (p15)

  • helping people gain greater control over their lives and circumstances.
  • helping people solve their own problems rather than making them dependent on us
  • An important part of this is to recognize people’s strengths and seek to build on them
  • resilience is a characteristic that can usefully be fostered as part of an ethos of empowerment

Creative (p16)

  • not getting stuck in ruts and coming up with standard solutions.
  • It involves being able to look carefully at a situation and to be able to generate a number of different outlooks, a number of different ways forward.

Integrated (p16-17)

  • takes account of the various issues involved, the various people involved, rather than working in an isolated, fragmented way.

Systematic (p17)

  • it refers to the importance of being clear at all times about what we are trying to achieve, how we intend to achieve it and how we will know when we have achieved it.
  • it is highly recommended that you read the relevant chapters in People Skills

Effective (p17)

  • it is vitally important that we ‘give it our best shot’ and try to make sure that our efforts are as effective as possible
  • maintain a clear focus on the principles underlying our practice

Challenges into three categories

  1. Existential: the type of challenges that we face simply by being human beings, by being in the world and seeking to make sense of it
  2. Interpersonal: they arise from our relationships with other people.
  3. Sociopolitical: arise because of who we are in relation to broader society

The problem-solving process (p20ff)

  1. Information gathering
  2. Analysis and problem definition
  3. Identification of strengths and opportunities (SWOT analysis)
  4. Exploration of possible solutions
  5. Evaluation of possible solutions
  6. Formulate a plan
  7. Revisit the information and analysis
  8. Implement the plan
  9. Monitor and review
  10. Conclude involvement when appropriate

Reflective practice (p24ff)

  • Not just using tools mechanistically: we need to draw on the professional knowledge base in such a way that it fits the specific practice realities – the problems we are seeking to solve – as closely as possible.
  • Art and craft: the knowledge and understanding available to us have to be crafted to suit circumstances / not simply having the knowledge but having the craft skills to be able to use it appropriately in real life problem-solving situations
  • Analytical skills: to be able to cut through the confusion and the indeterminacy, as Schön calls it, of real life situations

“wicked issues” – Clarke and Stewart (2003) “Wicked problems . . . are those for which there is no obvious or easily found solution”

Operacy (p27) refers to our actions and is used by de Bono (de Bono, 1983) to mean the ability to get things done, to ‘make things happen’.

This section considers some of the issues that can arise when coaching/mentoring. The section suggests that a problem is anything that brings about negatives (e.g. behaviour) or blocks positives (e.g. actions). Thompson also asks us to consider differing dimensions of relationships (p4) in particular:

Relationships involve a number of dimensions

  • Power We should be wary of seeing power as something an individual either has or does not have.
  • Conflict , in reality, relationships can be characterized by conflict over a very long period of time without ever breaking down.
  • Communication Relationships exist through communication and are also a major channel of communication
  • Identity Our sense of who we are arises, in part at least, from our relationships.

In your journal reflect upon a conversation or incident when one of these dimensions has caused a problem. What ethical considerations come into play with these four dimensions?

Identity – a common problem that occurs in my family life centres around me needing to be the ‘home version’ of me instead of the ‘work version’ of me. What I mean by this is that at work I am constantly trying to juggle numerous plates and make sure everyone else is ok. This often involves making a lot of suggestions and decisions. However, when I get home I am husband and dad. I don’t need to make the same kind of suggestions and decisions – there isn’t the same urgency. But I don’t always get into my ‘home-role’ smoothly!

EDUP106 Phase 3 B1

Task B1

This module sits within a wider programme seek to develop critical engagement with professional education and learning. Themes run through the whole course and specific emphasis is placed within different modules on particular aspects of learning. The below reading covers several different important ideas that are relevant across many of the course modules and has particular relevance to the subject matter within this module in that it provides a conceptual connection between workplace learning and practice.

Read: (on laptop)

Hager, P. (2011) Chapter 2: Theories of Workplace Learning. In: M. Malloch, L.Cairns, K.Evans and B. O’Conner (Eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Workplace Learning. London: Sage.

Some challenges to traditional learning theories

  1. Is the individual really the appropriate unit of analysis?
  2. Is learning really a product or ‘thing’?
  3. Can learning really occur independent of specific context?
    • Can you really have generic skills?
    • context can influence process but doesn’t influence content

Psychological theories

p18: most work is not minutely codifiable or predictable as required by theory

workplace learning theories

p20: Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1986) developed a well-known seven stage model of skill acquisition / the role of informal experiential learning becomes increasingly important in the later stages / experts engaging in practice are very likely to learn (even if the learning is not the primary purpose) / the Dreyfus model is focused on individuals as learners.

p20: Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) model of knowledge creation / critiques by Bereiter (2002) as not significantly different to Dreyfus stages

Socio-cultural theories (p23ff)

[these] challenge the idea that learning has to be exclusively either individual or social / learning is a process not a product / learning and performance are significantly shaped by social, organizational, cultural and other contextual factors

social theories

Lave and Wenger (1991) offered workplaces as ‘communities of practice’

Engestrom (1999, 2001) offers cultural-historical activity theory = learning occurs as work proceeds within activity systems (rules, division of labour, etc)

Fuller and Unwin (2003, 2004) offer the expansive-restrictive continuum

Postmodern theories

Workplace learning as emergent – an ongoing process, not fully decidable in advance

Metaphors of engagement, (re)construction, emergence

Examples include:

  • complexity theory
  • actor network theory

This chapter provides some very interesting critique on theories of workplace learning. What challenges did this piece present to you and your beliefs surrounding workplace learning? Make some notes in your journal for discussion at the next seminar day.

Some challenges to traditional learning theories

  1. Is the individual really the appropriate unit of analysis? This text offers theories that suggest learning is a social thing and cannot be done in isolation
  2. Is learning really a product or ‘thing’? It is offered that learning is more a process than a product.
  3. Can learning really occur independent of specific context?
    • Can you really have generic skills?
    • context can influence process but doesn’t influence content
  4. Can learning be emergent, that is non-prescribed? This suggests that as teachers we cannot plan all learning. Is this different to ‘tangent learning’ or ‘unintended learning’?