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’?

EDUP106 Phase 3 A4

Task A4

Continuing to explore professional learning and identity through the use of metaphors,


Sachs, J. (2011) Skilling or Emancipating? Metaphors for Continuing Professional Development. In: Mockler, N. and Sachs, J. eds. Rethinking Educational Practice Through Reflexive Inquiry: Essays in honour of Susan Groundwater-Smith. Springerlink online series. Skilling or Emancipating

p155:  CPD for these teachers is about recasting themselves as active learners, and, accordingly, it is transformative in its intent and outcomes. Its remit is not just about a teacher’s classroom practice but rather about social change, where education is a driving force.

p155:  A litmus test for CPD for many teachers could include the following questions: Is it useful? Does it my improve practice? Does it improve student learning? Does it extend me intellectually, personally or professionally? Does it question orthodoxies, generate new knowledge or transform practice?

p156: Grundy and Robison (2004) identify three interconnected purposes of CPD: extension, growth and renewal. Extension is through introducing new knowledge or skills to a teacher’s repertoire, growth is by the development of greater levels of expertise and renewal is achieved through transformation and change of knowledge and practice

Retooling (p157)

  • CPD as retooling is very much based in a practical view of teaching, in which relevance and immediate application within classrooms is a prime objective…
  • However, with its focus on improving instruction it does not allow any consideration of the social and cultural factors which influence the design and delivery of teaching and learning… governments and education bureaucrats prefer this is type of CPD seeing it as an end in itself…
  • CPD as retooling can best be described as old style professional development; it is something that is done to teachers, or as Mockler (2001) calls it ‘spray on’ PD.

Remodelling (p158)

  • Remodelling does not challenge orthodoxies or beliefs, rather it reinforces a practical approach to teaching, where teaching is sometimes seen as a performance and the role of the teacher is to engage/entertain students…
  • more concerned with modifying existing practices to ensure that teachers are compliant with government change agendas
  • It is very much focussed on the enhancement of teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge.
  • One of the shortfalls of these programmes is that they may well remodel teachers’ behaviours but not necessarily change their attitudes and beliefs about teaching.
  • this model of CPD reinforces the idea of the teacher as the uncritical consumer of knowledge, and operating at the level of improving specific skills as these relate to immediate classroom practice.

Revitalizing (p158-160)

  • very much about teacher renewal, with the shift away from development to learning.
  • revitalizing connects teachers with other teachers and with the needs of students.
  • It demands that teachers are able to engage in reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action (Schön 1987).
  • its focus is still on the individual teacher but makes teachers “feel inspired, idealistic—a reminder of what teaching’s all about”.
  • The coaching/mentoring model emphasises the importance of the one-to-one relationship between two teachers, which is designed to support CPD. It involves an equitable relationship which allows the two teachers involved to discuss possibilities, beliefs and hopes (Kennedy 2005).
  • Another form of CPD as revitalizing is to be found through professional development networks.
  • Daley (2000, pp. 40–41) lists a variety of tools which can foster a transformative view of learning including: concept maps, reflective journals, Venn diagrams, analysis of practice exemplars, action learning and creating professional learning communities.

Reimagining (p160-162)

  • this kind of CPD is different and requires imagination both on the part of those delivering CPD as well as those who are the recipients of it.
  • This type of CDP is transformative in its intent and practice, and will equip teachers individually and collectively to act as shapers, promoters and well-informed critics of reforms (Little 1994, p. 1).
  • it is highly political and serves to advocate and support change from a variety of perspectives and approaches.
  • it is a transformative view of teacher professionalism which seeks to develop teachers who are creative developers of curriculum and innovative pedagogues (Mockler 2005).
  • Given that this is political work, it requires building collaborative partnerships between various stakeholders whose task is to work together, combining their experience, expertise and resources.
  • educators must have the courage to ask tough questions and have the skills to find honest answers.
  • This approach reflects what Richardson (2003, p. 401) describes as an inquiry approach where teachers determine their individual collective goals, experiment with practices, and engage in open and trusting dialogue about teaching and learning with colleagues and outside facilitators.
  • CPD as reimagining positions teachers as researchers of their own and their peers’ practice.


retooling etc

p164: In order to achieve the aspirations of a learning profession, education providers need to ensure that the programmes offered match appropriate professional development provision to particular professional needs (Mujis et al. 2004, p. 295). The important point here is the need for CPD to be differentiated in the same way as learning is differentiated for students.

It requires that teachers are prepared to take risks and not lose their nerve when it comes to justifying positions about education against which they can provide justifiable evidence.

p165: It requires constructive dialogue between teachers, principals and education bureaucrats about what are the priorities for the school and teachers, how to ensure that the needs and interests of students are at the centre of decisions and what kind of activities can ensure an engaged and well-informed teaching profession.

Sachs introduces four metaphors to describe current approaches to continuing professional development: retooling, remodelling, revitalising and reimagining (p156). How do these analyses support your understanding of your own professional learning experiences and practices and those which are evident in your setting?

Retooling: most school-based and peer-collective sessions operate at this level. They work when necessary to transmit some new knowledge.

Remodelling: most InSet days and CPD courses operate ate this level. They provide new ways of thinking about a concept or issue. They transmit new knowledge that we construct for our settings.

Revitalising: an increasing amount of this level of working, particularly in working groups (school, cluster, LA). Potentially some InSet day dialogue works at this level. TeachMeets work at this level in terms of sharing collectively for individual gain.

Reimagining: My SCEL experience was definitely operating at this level. Practitioner enquiry has the potential to operate at this level if understood properly and the learning shared widely.

Return to your journal notes from Task A3 (this phase) and develop further your thoughts around professional identity and development by introducing the ideas introduced by Sach’s use of the four metaphors.

EDUP106 Phase 3 A3

Task A3

In the previous two tasks the needs of individuals, learning through social participation and the assembling of knowledge have been looked at in relation to professional growth and development. Another important consideration when supporting the professional learning of colleagues is aspiration. Practical training on what to do in various situations is undoubtedly important but without a vision of the sort of professional someone might aspire to be, learning can become unfocussed or poorly directed.


Mockler, N. (2011) Becoming and ‘Being’ a Teacher: Understanding Teacher Professional Identity. In: Mockler, N. and Sachs, J. eds. Rethinking Educational Practice Through Reflexive Inquiry: Essays in honour of Susan Groundwater-Smith. Springerlink online series.

Becoming and being a teacher

p125: In the same way as other abstract concepts require more description than definition in order for their true sense to be conveyed, perhaps it is so too with the multifaceted, multifarious concept of teacher professional identity.

p125: conceptualisations of teacher professional identity recognise:

  • The shifting and multiple nature of teacher professional identity
    • “Teachers will define themselves not only through their past and current identities as defined by personal and social histories and current roles but through their beliefs and values about the kind of teacher they hope to be in the inevitably changing political, social, institutional and personal circumstances.”  (Day and Hadfield 1996, p. 610)
  • The complex circumstances and conditions under which teacher professional identity is formed and mediated
    • “…each teacher also partially constructed that context according to his or her biographical project: that is, the network of personal concerns, values and aspirations against which events are judged and decisions made.” (MacLure 1993, p. 314, emphasis in original)
  • The role of narrative in the construction of professional identities
    • “Stories, as lived and told by teachers, serve as the lens through which they understand themselves personally and professionally and through which they view the content and context of their work, including any attempts at instructional innovation.” (Drake et al. 2001, p. 2)

p129: Professional, Personal and Political Domains in the Construction of Teacher Professional Identity

  • p130: The Domain of Personal Experience: The domain of ‘personal experience’ includes those aspects of teachers’ lives which stand outside the professional context, including personal history, family life, ethnicity and gender, which can provide framing constructs for the decisions and actions of people over the course of their lives.
  • p131: The Domain of Professional Context: The domain of ‘professional context’ includes those aspects of teachers’ lives which relate to them as teachers, including pre-service education, socialisation into the profession and the school and system contexts and cultures they work within.
  • p132: The Domain of External Political Environment: The domain of ‘external political environment’ includes those dimensions outside of the field of education which impact upon it and frame it, such as the policy environment within which education operates, the discourses which surround education and teachers’ work, as represented in the media and the ‘cumulative cultural text’ of teachers’ work (Weber and Mitchell 1995, 1999) as well as those stereotypes and dominant images of teachers and teaching held within the popular memory and reiterated and reinforced in interactions between individuals and groups.

p133: Identity Anchors in the Storm

  • these three domains work in a reflexive relationship with each other in terms of the ‘anchoring’ of teacher professional identity.
  • The professional identity anchors in use currently or in the past by participants within this study included: subject area or discipline, welfare/pastoral care, learning, literacy, equity, leadership, experience and ‘eldership’.
  • p135:  Identity anchors essentially provide a connection point for teachers between the work they do and their purpose in that work—they join the essential identity question “Who am I (in this context)?” to the broader question of purpose: “Why am I here?” and hold potential in terms of moving teachers beyond the claim of ‘moral purpose’ to an articulation of how that moral purpose links with elements of teachers’ work such as pedagogical approach and teaching and learning strategies.


  • p136: good, thoughtfully constructed professional learning and development which incorporates opportunities for teachers to not only expand their practice but to authentically reflect on their practice and how it relates to who they are as a teacher, might work to anchor and orientate teachers to new and different dimensions of their work.

Nicole Mockler suggests that teacher professional identity might be explicitly shaped and formed out of professional learning and development experiences that focus not only on ‘what to do’, but also on the kind of teacher it is possible to be. (p.136)

In reading this chapter, consider the three domains that she implicates in the construction of professional identity. In what ways is the ‘anchor’ metaphor useful?

The Oxford Dictionary provides one definition of anchor as ‘a person or thing that provides stability or confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation’. The words ‘stability’ and ‘confidence’ are key here. When considering ones identity, one would hope to think of attributes that are fixed, are secure, are strong. A physical anchor provides a strong mooring for a boat, a mooring that keeps the boat steady in calm and rough waters. Whilst the surrounding environment changes, the anchor does not. So to is ones identity – it remains fixed (albeit malleable) and provides one with a firm point of reference to aid decisions and choices.

As Mockler suggests, professional identity can and does change. This is not to say that we are indecisive but that, as our experience and understanding grows, so our values and priorities shift. The same could be said of an anchor in so much as a ‘starter’ boat only needs a small anchor but a ship designed for the high seas has need of a much stronger, robust anchor.

In relation to your own professional identity make notes in your journal of your thoughts on how effective the use of the domains is in exploring professional identity.

Personal: gender influence – male as a primary teacher – was given priority; family – needed to choose a career that would provide stability; own experience in school – positive and enjoyable

Professional: GTP training – learning on the job, collating evidence for registration; NQT year – high expectations, quality mentor; RQT year – moved to Scotland, had to re-train with CfE; Eyemouth – influence of colleagues and SLT; RAfA year – influence of SLT and national interests

Political: only a recent influence – increased awareness of neo-liberalism, critical of ‘business practices’ imposed on education.

Try to identity your ‘anchors’; if you can’t, think of a more useful metaphor to help you to identify some essential elements of your professional identity.

My anchors?

  • Invest – how can I / this opportunity make a difference to the pupils / staff
  • inspire – how can I / this opportunity challenge pupils / staff to change
  • involve – how can I / this opportunity gives others the chance to be part of it

Retooling, remodelling, revitalizing, reimagining?

  • Professional identity should evolve and change. My own has significantly shifted as a result of the ‘reimagining’ opportunity provided by In Headship. ‘Revitalizing’ opportunities can also serve to challenge our thinking because, by their design, they require teachers to question practice.
  • Retooling and remodelling are less likely to affect our professional identity because they are intended to transmit accepted knowledge rather than generate new knowledge.


EDUP106 Phase 3 A2

Task A2 As a mentor it is also important to consider that the learning needs of individuals are often unique to people and their circumstances (as highlighted by Mulcahy in Task A1). Although many experiences and development needs will be shared and common amongst colleagues, considering the capacity and needs of individuals when negotiating or designing mentoring relationships is very important.

The posts which mentees hold may have implications for the types of support, learning, knowledge or training they might need. Select three of the roles below and assess which types of support, learning needs, knowledge or training they might need and how this might be achieved through professional learning interventions such as coaching and mentoring.

Bring your written notes to the seminar day ready to share and compare with others.

 Placement students

 NQT/Probation teachers

 Experienced? teachers

 Principal Teacher

  • Behaviour management
  • Parental concerns
  • Daily logistics
  • Project development

 Deputy Head Teacher

  • Deputising
  • Chairing meetings
  • Strategic planning
  • PRDs

 Head Teacher

  • Finance
  • LA development
  • School Improvement Planning
  • Health and safety