Task A1 Whilst considering what is meant by professional learning, development and growth, it is important to develop an understanding of the influences on professional learning within the school /college context.
Mulcahy, D, (2014). Re-thinking teacher professional learning; a more than representational account. In: Fenwick, T & Nerland, M, eds. Reconceptualising Professional Learning. Routledge, London.
p121: the argument made in this chapter is that it is practices that produce learning and learners, practices that involve agencies of an ontologically diverse kind.
What is professional learning?
- p125: Learning can be defined minimally as ‘growth in knowledge’ (Sorensen 2009).
- p125: Learning as participating in the practices of a social group. Teacher learning involves the construction of new knowledge through the interaction of what teachers already know and believe and the ideas, events, and activities with which they come in contact.
- p127: Learning as assemblages of knowledge practice – ‘a process of bundling, of assembling … in which the elements put together are not fixed in shape, do not belong to a larger pre-given list but are constructed at least in part as they are entangled together’
- p128: what learning is depends on how participants in it accomplish it as a practice
- p129: under NRT and ANT, teacher learning is the performance (practice, doing) of a specific learning assemblage
Learning assemblages: teacher learners at work
- p131: Learning as reflecting: ‘If one doesn’t reflect, one doesn’t learn’. Epistemologically, this means that ‘the “action” is not in the bodies, habits, practices of the individual or the collective (and even less in their surroundings) but rather in the ideas and meanings cited by and projected onto those bodies, habits, practices and behaviours (and surroundings)’ (Anderson and Harrison 2010:5, original emphasis)
- p136: Learning as encountering: ‘Something pretty big has happened and I couldn’t … not talk about it today’. Teacher professional learning is co-produced amid a disparate mix of elements.
- p139: Teacher professional learning occurs in ‘the thick of things, in the intersection of the human and the nonhuman’ (Pickering 2008:3).
- p140: Teacher learning primarily concerns the practical: contingently composed of social, textual and material practices of knowledge production, different practices do this learning and, indeed, are this learning.
By asking the question ‘what counts as professional learning?’, Mulcahy draws our attention to the possibilities of professional growth through means beyond discrete learning events or programmes. Mulcahy explores learning as growth in representational knowledge, learning through participation in social groups and learning as assemblages of knowledge practice.
On reading the above chapter, make notes in your journal considering your responses to the following questions:
In relation to the reading, what are the major influences on professional learning in your organisation?
- Learning socially – collegiate meetings, working groups, cluster sessions
- Knowledge acquisition – some professional reading and discussion
What impact could alternative professional learning (such as learning through participating in a social group) have on coaching and mentoring practices?
- According to Mulcahy, social group learning is good for encouraging reflection.
- All teacher learning should lead to a change in practice. Simple reflection and discourse without change is not real learning.
- Coaching and mentoring as professional learning should result in a change in practice. The notion of ‘Something pretty big has happened and I couldn’t … not talk about it today’ fits with C&M but it should move from ‘talk about it’ to ‘do something about it’.
You may also find it useful to revisit the reading(s) from previous modules (such as EDUP001 and EDUP007) that look at similar subject areas.