Sunday, 28 January 2018

Leadership for Resilience – Putting ACE’s awareness into action

At the third attempt, I managed to secure a place and attend the ‘Leadership for Resilience – Putting ACE’s awareness into action’ in Kelty this weekend. This event like many similar events across Scotland, more information here, was hosted by Suzanne Zeedyk (@suzannezeedyk) and David Cameron (@realdcameron). The morning started with a hushed hall full of trepidation as Suzanne invited us to consider the effect of over stimulation of ‘fight or flight’ responses and the resultant constant yo-yoing of cortisol levels in our blood streams.

The event, in two parts, this first of which was to watch ‘Resilience – the biology of stress and the science of hope’, this was followed with a discussion about the impact of the film, personal storytelling and contributions.

The film made by James Redford carries the tag line ‘the child may not remember, but the body remembers’ and outlines that “toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time, and early death” as it demonstrates how altered responses to stress can lead to physical changes in the way the brain develops.

These claims are backed up by a report published in 2016 entitled ‘Polishing the Diamonds' - Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences in Scotland”, here, which discusses how adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) can effect children’s life-long well-being. The report outlines the categories of ACE’s as: emotional, physical or sexual abuse; emotional or physical neglect; domestic abuse; substance misuse; mental ill health; criminality; separation or living in care.
The report states that “Individuals who have experienced four or more ACE’s are;
·         Almost 4 times more likely to smoke
·         Almost 4 times more likely to drink heavily
·         Almost 9 times more likely to experience incarceration
·         Almost 3 times more likely to be morbidly obese.”

If these statistics are not startling enough, those who have experienced more than 4 ACE’s are also at greater risk of poor educational and employment outcomes, low mental well-being and life satisfaction and recent violent involvement or inpatient hospital care, chronic health conditions and having caused/been unintentionally pregnant before the age of eighteen.

So how can we tackle ACE’s? In the report (2016) “Bellis outlines how ACEs should be a consideration across the life course with a focus on prevention, resilience and enquiry” and considering family context, parental and family risk and household adversities.

So what does this mean for teachers, teachers learning and support for teachers across Scotland?
GIRFEC, as a policy, should pervade all education in Scotland but perhaps we have lost focus as other ’priorities’ have come to the fore and have taken our attention away from GIRFEC or as David Cameron puts it “when did GIRFEC stop being a policy and become a slogan”. In Scotland we may need to ask tough questions about policy priorities. Does current policy express and privilege the holistic child and the wrap around a child needs or does it privilege attainment? This dichotomy of policy priority may miss the child who is ‘human and wants to succeed’. The drive for attainment can sometimes not see the obvious that “care is a strategy for attainment” and attainment is supported by a caring learning environment where children feel safe; safe to be, safe to fail and safe to continue to learn. This is where PEF funding can be invaluable for schools, it can be spent on resources and interventions that support better holistic HWB outcomes for all children and avoid targeting, labelling and limiting children e.g. improve the attainment of SIMD 2 children.
Teacher professionalism and the value of social justice in the Professionals Standards means that teachers should take into consideration, and action the ways adversity in childhood affects children receptiveness and ability to learn on a daily basis. Within the current review of the Professional Standards, do we need to go as far as the Professionals Standards in China where ‘love’ and ‘care’ are mentioned explicitly?
As the basis of teaching is in relationships, the breakdown of relationships cause ACE’s, relationships can also be the solution for ACE’s. So, how do we as an education system support teachers at all stages of their careers to build positive relationships with children? For ITE, this would mean ensuring the selection procedures do not solely rely on academic qualifications but also take into consideration personal attributes and disposition. ITE institutions should support teachers to develop their identity and skills in supporting children and seeing this film may provide an excellent stimulus for discussion around these areas.

Teachers can make small changes to their practice, for example, a quick ‘temperature check’ and ‘hello’ as children arrive to class and using the child’s name “can change a child’s biology”.

Teachers and schools can also change their perspective by changing the language they use in describing children’s behaviours, one Fife primary school changed their language from “challenging behaviour” to “distressed behaviour”. This changed their outlook on managing and supporting their pupils by changing the conversation from behaviours to the causes of the behaviours. This change in language could go some way changing views on how we support vulnerable children before they become damaged children.

Parents are the crucial third partner in a child’s education. Supporting children but neglecting the family rarely leads to long term change. Schools can make a difference but not all the difference, family involvement and family learning are a key element in reducing ACE’s.

Finally we were asked to “In ONE word, how has today left you feeling?” My word was curious. These preventions to reduce ACE’s all seems so evident and fundamental to teaching, I am curious to know why this is not taking place, not just in Scotland but all over the world. Is it not obvious that all of our experiences shape us and influence our choices and behaviours, so why are we just beginning to talk about this, in these terms, now? Why only now are we being explicit? Our question to children needs to change from “what’s wrong with you?” to “what’s happened to you?” to support all children to be the best they can be.

P.S. Suzanne briefly flashed a book by Carol Craig called “Hiding in Plain Sight” which asks the question “If Scotland had an ACE’s score, what would it be?” so guess what has just been added to my collection?

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Collective efficacy

A flyer dropped into my inbox from Osiris Education about the conference “What the best schools do to be the best” they are hosting along with GTCS and other partners in November, here. John Hattie is the keynote for this conference and as I missed last year’s conference I am keen to go this time. I also noticed that ‘collective efficacy’ is on the agenda which reminded me that I had a book entitled ‘Collective Efficacy’ by Jenni Donohoo, which I have not read yet.
So in the last few week I have found the time to read this book and I was xxxx, as the themes of the book resonated with my own perceptions of how we can support teachers to enhance their professionalism.
The theory in developing collective teacher efficacy is to improve outcomes for all children and young people. This involves creating opportunities for meaningful collaboration, empowering teachers, establishing goals and high expectations, and helping teachers use impact data for improvement of all things that are being discussed across Scotland and therefore to help teachers improve outcomes for children and young people.
So, what is teacher efficacy? It is a teacher’s belief that they can perform the essential activities to influence student attainment, Donohoo quotes Protheroe (2008) who said that teacher efficacy is “a teachers sense of competence – not some objective measure of actual competence”. When teachers share the belief that they and their school can make a collective difference to their students’ lives, it outranks every other factor for impact on student attainment and achievement. Hattie (2016), based on meta-analysis by Eells (2011), said that collective teacher’s efficacy (effect size 1.57) is the most influential practice that supports students’ achievement. This supports Marzano’s 2003 findings that “schools that are highly effective produce results that almost entirely overcome the effects of student backgrounds”.
So how do teachers develop collective efficacy? Collective efficacy emerges through the cognitive and social interactions of the teachers through mastery experiences (being successful), vicarious experiences (sharing), social persuasion (being credible witnesses), and affective states (ethos of support). It is premised on teachers being both consumers and creators of research, through school wide strategies, learning from past experiences and monitoring and tracking student progress.
Through collective efficacy, teachers develop more resilience to external factors and focus on the individual needs on the students. Students are given more opportunities to be successful as the teacher creates and maintains the learning environment to support leaners by providing scaffolds, promoting peer support and cooperation, providing feedback and empowering students. However, as Deci (1995) points out there are limits as the curriculum has to be covered but “there is almost always still room for [learners] deciding what to do”. So, collective efficacy support learners become more autonomous in their learning.
Leaders also have a crucial role to play in developing collective efficacy in a school. Strong leaders are responsive to the personal aspects of teachers and protect them from issues and influences that detract from their teaching time or focus. This results in greater collective efficacy as teachers feel truly supported and empowered.
Alongside this empowerment, leaders need to help facilitate the structures and processes that promote and require interdependence, collective action, transparency and group problem solving. These help collaboration, to move beyond “happy talk” (Sunstein &Hastie, 2015) and avoid the pitfalls of Balkanisation, contrived collegiality and group think. Another important aspect of leadership in promoting collective efficacy is that they need to carve out time to support collaboration which is meaningful, frequent, supported by shared goals and commitment, and promotes a willingness to interpret result collectively and act on feedback in authentic ways.
One final thought about collective efficacy is that although it can be powerful, it does not “cause things to happen, they increase the likelihood that things will turn out as expected”. So, given that this book suggests collective efficacy can have a positive impact on teachers, children and young people, is it worth further exploration?

Donohoo, J. (2017) Collective efficacy: Corwin, SAGE Publication Ltd

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Teacher professionalism, teacher identify and teacher agency and professional learning

This post reflects some reading I have been doing in the last few weeks as I grapple with teacher professionalism, teacher identify and teacher agency and how this is affected by the professional learning stance of the teacher and their context.

Some forms of professional learning are more suited to supporting the development of knowledge and understanding, skills and abilities, and dispositions than others. There are opposing views around who determines the professional learning agenda for teachers, which can be polarised to: teachers should be the agents of change (enhancing their professionalism through teacher agency) versus teacher learning which should be driven by external change agents (policy and curriculum). In both cases, the culture of the school matters, if the mechanisms and supports are available to promote teacher agency then this model will predominate, however, if a supportive and trusting culture does not exist then perhaps the model will comply more to external drivers. Professional learning communities can be a strong driver of improvement if utilised effectively, Fullan (2003) cautions that professional learning communities will not necessarily lead to changes in practice if the interactions simple reinforce ineffective practice. So, professional learning and learning communities need to interact with views beyond their own context and involve themselves in critical reading and reflection to move their thinking and practice to being more research enhanced.

Professional learning communities are a powerful means of engaging teachers in professional learning that can lean into the improvement agenda but also build teacher capacity through teachers engaging in and with research. It is important that professional learning communities are led by teachers, because this type of professional learning goes beyond developing and sharing knowledge and practices, and is more about establishing, cultivating and valuing opportunities for informed professional judgement, decisions, and actions. This is echoed in teaching Scotland Future (2010) where Donaldson discusses teachers as “expert practitioners whose professional practice and relationships are rooted in strong values, who take responsibility for their own development”.
Professional learning requires that engagement with teachers’ learning is at the centre of the process. Learning in a professional context should be driven by both teacher and student needs, as without this there is little motivation to make any improvement. Therefore, professional learning that is practical, personalised to the teachers learning needs and relevant to their classroom practices, has a greatest effect on teacher learning and thus student outcomes. When teachers recognise themselves as problem solvers and self-select their professional learning approaches, they tend to seek authentic professional collaboration and develop the skills of evaluation and reflection. Effective professional learning should be coherent, outcome orientated, sustainable and evidence informed professional learning that takes cognisance of how adults learn.

Practitioner enquiry offers a method of effective teacher learning as it derives from and informs the professional learning of teachers, it supports collaborative working using a range of approaches, and helps teachers to gain knowledge and understanding, develop skills and abilities, and interrogates their values as part of the learning process.

Chapman et al believe that their research into “[School Improvement Partnership Programme] SIPP partnership are ‘proof of concept’”. They posit that ‘system coherence’ can be created through a ‘set of agreed principles and broad framework’ that supports professional learning, but has the built-in flexibility to be context specific and can “strengthen the middle through continuous professional learning underpinned by discipline collaborative enquiry”.

The relationship between teacher professionalism, teacher identify and teacher agency, professional learning is complex and unique to the individual. The way in which professional identity can be developed and enhanced is within the power of the individual but is also dependent on the support and leadership in their context. Collaborative practitioner enquiry can offer a means of creating the conditions to support teacher agency but this must be flexible enough to allow individual needs to be met but also structured enough to support improvement through effective partnership working. How teacher professionalism, teacher identify and teacher agency, and professional learning can be expressed through professional capital is my next line of enquiry.

Campbell, C. Leiberman, A. Yashkina, A (2016) Developing professional capital in policy and practice
Chapman, c. Chestnutt, H. Friel, N. Hall, S, Lowden, K. (2016) Professionals capital and collaborative inquiry networks for educational equity and improvement?

Duncalf, D. Lloyd, D. Pratt, A, Horsfall, P (2017) Teacher perspectives of cultivating learning through practitioner enquiry to transform practice

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Teacher professionalism, teacher agency and teacher identity

This post reflects some reading I have been doing in the last few weeks as I grapple with teacher professionalism, teacher identify and teacher agency both for myself, in my context and beyond, thinking about how to support teachers to enhance their professionalism, shape their identity and develop their agency.

Teacher professionalism needs to be placed in the broader context of neoliberal economic and political reforms and as such, the development of a teachers’ professional identity becomes increasingly influenced by the discourses of a market regulated professional community. This market driven professionalism supports and encourages improved performance and normative practices for its members and as such complies to a ‘managed professionalism’ model for teachers. The managed professionalism model has strong accountability policies, linked with performativity, which emphasises measurable performances and creates new professional norms.
Contemporary education reform champion instrumentalist concepts of teachers, by using words like practitioners rather than teachers, it encourages an emphasis on the technical and rational elements of professional practice. However, teachers are more complex and multifaceted than this ‘instrumentalist’ approach suggests. Most teachers conscribe to a professional stance that is based on values, both personal and professional, which emphasises the emotional, personal and relational aspects of teaching, the moral imperative, if you will.

Personal and professional values develop over time as does teacher identity. Teacher identity is influenced by and formed within multiple social, cultural, political, and historical contexts. It is formed through relationships, involves emotions, and the reconstruction of personal stories. It is negotiated through how the individual finds themselves in their context, through the available resources and their own experiences both personal and educational. Identities are constantly made and refined as teachers use their surroundings to make sense of and interact with and in their current context.

There is an acknowledged staged process to teacher identity development. Firstly, new teachers develop knowledge of curriculum content and become confidence in applying known skills to new situations. As a teachers’ learning journey progresses there is a shift in focus from subject matter expertise to pedagogical expertise as teachers develop skills in engaging students in their learning in a variety of ways, to support all learners needs. This leads to the development of a professional identity, a process described as a ‘professional self-image’ which is created using feedback from themselves and significant others, and as such, it can be said that it is a social construction, which is evolving as new situations present themselves.

Teacher agency and teacher identity are intimately inter-twined. Teacher agency, expands teacher identity to include the situational as well as individual, and is formed and re-formed constantly over the course of a teachers’ career. As teachers construct an understanding of who they are, within their school and professional context, they take actions that they believe align with that construction. These actions then feedback into the on-going identity construction process but are also influenced by context, structures and resources available to the teacher.

The interplay between teacher professionalism, professional identity and teacher agency is complex. To try deconstruct these three elements which are all part of what it means to be a teacher to create a simple definition is probably naive. So, I need to be content for now but want to move on to thinking about how these are influenced by professional learning and specifically how enquiry, both individual and collaborative, supports teachers to enhance their professionalism, develop identity and agency.

Berry, A. Clemans, A, Kostogriz, A (eds) (2007) Dimensions of professional learning
Buchanan, R. (2015) Teacher identity and agency in an era of accountability

Kitsing, M. Boyle, A. Kukemelk, H Mikk, J. (2016) the impact of professional capital on educational excellence and equity in Estonia

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Teacher agency and empowerment

In the current climate in Scottish education, where there is considerable teacher frustration with the perception of continual changing of the ‘goal posts’, can teacher agency be a means of empowering and supporting teachers to be more autonomous in managing their workload, to help them to continue to support all children and young people to be the best they can be?
There are many teachers across Scotland who feel that they are not empowered, indeed they feel powerless within their school environment, where structure, policies and the lack of time seem to limit their autonomy. As their autonomy is eroded and can lead to a negative strategic compliance stance of - ‘just tell me what to do’.

Learning communities offer an opportunity for teacher empowerment by teachers leading, being involved, included and responsible for their own and others learning. However, most when set up, neglect the underlying structures and social dynamics that are required of learning communities. The teambuilding work isn’t done before the teacher learning community is asked to produce the desired change, result, policy, whatever the focus is. This is usually due to time pressure, if you only have six meetings throughout the session, spending the first couple team building, may not seem a good use of time. There is also the inherent assumption that collegiate working is a ‘good thing’ but there is no clear evidence or even critical questions being asked whether it actually has a positive effect.
So, if teachers are not empowered through teacher learning communities how can they be empowered? The concept of teacher agency defined by Biesta, Priestley, Robinson (2105) in their book “Teacher Agency – An Ecological Approach” may go some way to an answer.

I have been slowly developing an understanding of this model of teacher agency, to be honest it has taken me a while to step back and consider all the elements which the authors believe are encompassed in this model. For me, I held a psychological empowerment model of teacher agency, which could be defined as a process of enhancing feelings of self-efficacy i.e. having high impact and competence and feeling that what I did was meaningful. I was a strong advocate of teacher agency through ‘individual effort’, through self-determination of learning and perhaps paid less attention to the other elements which Biesta, Priestley & Robinson discuss as essential for teacher agency i.e. resources, structure, and context. These other elements were only presented to me as barriers to overcome or navigate as I had never experienced them as enablers. So, my view of teacher agency and an individual effort was formed from cynical observations of ‘empowerment’ where ‘development opportunities’ were merely delegation and became unfair expectations in a crowded workload. However, having taken time to consider this I am fully on-board with the notion that agency is not something some “people can have or possess” but is in fact something that people “do or achieve” (Biesta & Pedder, 2006).

The much-used quote from the OECD’s, Schleicher “the quality of a nation’s education system cannot outstrip the quality of its teachers” highlight the quality of the system that supports and promotes teacher agency. Therefore, leadership is essential. Leadership should create the culture and provide the structures and resources to support teacher agency. It also needs to be trusting, inclusive and supportive and enhance the collaborative aspects of professional learning.

Policy statements effect leadership and the enactment of leadership. Policy can hinder teacher agency by restricting and trying to control teachers work through regulation, inspection and the curriculum. This can create a ‘what works’ approach to education where the learning becomes a ‘learner knows, understands and is able to do’ but does not touch on the wider aspects of learning and raises a philosophical question of “whether it is ethical in a democracy to predefine what people should learn, and how they should be” (p155). Policy can also miss the moral imperative of education through a performativity culture and bureaucratic approaches to assessment. With a strong focus on attainment, we appear to have lost the achievement dimension which gives a more child centred approach to education.

There is a balance to be achieved by leadership teams both at a local authority level and school level. Leadership teams should not be the only source of policy engagement for teachers, as their interpretations of policy can reduce teacher professionalism as it diminishes teachers’ capacity to make professional judgements. This has to be balanced with teachers lack the efficacy to engage with, and decode the language of policy into meaningful practice. This can be resolved to some extent if teachers engage in research and professional reading, to broaden and deepen their educational perspectives.

Teacher agency gives a model for a more rounded education system where the connections between levels, the macro, meso and micro, are all pointing in the same direction. It has the power to support teachers to be more autonomous within their workload but as ever, it is not as simple as that. The model of teacher agency described by Biesta, Priestley & Robinson moves beyond teachers ‘possessing agency’ to a more expansive model of teachers ‘achieving agency’ through their own efforts, but also the culture of their work environment and the structures and resources that support their efforts. Within this model, leadership is key and the support from all levels of the education system is a must. Policy needs to liberate teachers from a narrow view of education, local authorities need to support teachers and be ‘less inspectorial’ and school leaders need to create conditions for all teachers to thrive. If we can move towards this model, then teacher agency can empower teachers and enhance their professionalism.


Biesta, G. Priestley, M. Robinson, S (2015) Teacher Agency – An ecological Approach: Bloomsbury Publishing, London

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Policy, professionalism, and performativity

Spending some time working at the Scottish Government offices at Victoria Quay has piqued my interest in policy. Some of the questions I have asked Scottish Government colleagues are; Who creates policy? How is it created? What research is it based on? How is it implemented, enacted? Is policy quality assured? Basic questions I know but a starting point.
During the SERA conference in November I went along to hear Paul Adams of the University of Strathclyde to further my knowledge on policy. Paul very kindly gave me a reading list he uses with his M.Ed. candidates so I could do reading, etc. on policy, as given I work full time I could not enrol in the class. The reference on the reading list that has really resonated with me is Paul’s own book entitled ‘Policy and Education’, this is well written and very readable. In this post, I will use Paul’s book to briefly discuss the link between policy, professionalism, and performativity as these are high on my personal ‘thinking about’ agenda at the moment.
‘Profession’ is a contested concept and is dependent on the political stance and values of the viewer. Teachers tend to discuss their profession and professionalism in terms of behaviour, conduct and standards they hold alongside status given through public perception. However, teaching in the past has been considered a quasi-profession, being given more accolade than some jobs but not a true profession as it blends altruism with intellectual engagement. The ‘golden age’ of teacher professionalism is considered to be the 50’s and 60’s, Hargreaves (2000) describes this as the period of the ‘autonomous professional’, where professional judgement was highly valued. Professional judgement is back in focus as the NIF states that “consistent, well-moderated teacher judgement” (p12) will be used to support pupils progress.
Both Day (2002) and Brennan (1996) argue that teachers as ‘professionals’ has been eroded by decentralisation and intensive government scrutiny and that teachers are now part of ’managerial professionalism’, as control has shifted away from professionals towards systems managers. So, improving professionalism, through policy, which is linked to improving practice, may come at the cost of a more technical approach for teachers and move away from the autonomous stance of professionalization which increases teacher status.
The classical view of professionalism put forward by Robinson et al (2004) has three dimensions; reasonability (altruism), autonomy and knowledge, an alternative model is offered by Carr (1992) who defines four dimensions of professionalism, which are;
          procedural : mastery of technical skills
          deontic: teaching being done for others in the light of professional judgement
          supererogatory: the way in which teachers carry their professional lives into their personal lives
          axiological: the way in which teachers live their personal lives is as a role model.
Elliot (1991) discusses a model of new professionalism which considers professionalism in relation to teachers making informed judgements and decisions, while working in diverse situations and contexts. This leads to some common threads, regardless of context, in; collaborative working, effective communication to support understanding of different viewpoints, a holistic approach as the basis of professional practice and reflection to support professional judgement. As such, new professionalism is more concerned with quality of service rather than status (Evans, 2008) and promotes the idea of the professional as a reflective practitioner where professional learning is based on context and collaborative approaches in situ (Elliot, 1991). This type of reflective practice supports the development of deeper understanding of both the teachers and pupils learning and links with Hoyle’s (1974) term ‘extended Professionality’.
Neoliberal policies brought in by the Blair Government (1997) led to a performance management system which positioned teachers as a ‘unit to be managed’. Although Scotland has autonomy over education policy, there is evidence of policy migration as Scotland too has moved to a more performativity culture, where ‘commercialised professionalism’ which panders to profitability and international competitiveness (Whitty, 2000) also gained some traction. This created a rift in the teaching population as longer serving teachers tended to have a more holistic vision, both for their professionalism and pedagogy, whereas, newer teachers having not known anything different, seemed more content with managerial and test-based education (Day, 2002). This rise of performativity created unforeseen consequences as the caring role of a teacher was reduced and it became a function of administration rather than the altruistic and moral stance of the teacher, Noddings (2002) argues, ‘care about’ (attainment) takes precedence over ‘care for’. This precedence of attainment leads to test scores being used as the measure of ‘what teachers do and how pupils achieve’ and the wider view of achievement is reduced. This stance is premised on all pupils having an equal starting point, ignoring social factors, and becomes a means of control by the government. This diminishing professionalism where ‘best practice’ is shared as ‘the way to do things’, regardless of context. We know that not all children have an equal starting point and this is now being addressed in Scotland through the NIF as stated on p3 “ensuring every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap” and through the Scottish Attainment Challenge. More controversial is the intention of the Scottish Government to continue the pursuit of national assessments which many consider not the best way to show pupil progress.
Performativity also threatens teachers sense of agency and encourages uncritical compliance. It reduces teachers time to connect with pupils thus changing teacher identity to a more managerial model, which diminishes teachers sense of motivation, efficacy, and job satisfaction. Mark Priestley, University of Stirling, writes extensively on performativity and his must read blog can be found here
In literature, professionalism is a contest proposition. In policy, it is often used as a means of control leaning into a performativity, accountability and managerial agenda. For me, teacher professionalism should encompass the knowledge, skills and abilities, attributes and disposition that supports teacher learning for improved pupil outcomes. This must also sit alongside the moral imperative, the human face of teaching underpinned by values where connection with learners are just as important as attainment data.

Adams, P. (2014) Policy and Education; Routledge

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Teacher professionalism and teacher identity through professional learning

This week I have been engaged in re-reading learning theories with the intention of underpinning my thinking about professional learning to help me co-create a resource to support teachers gather evidence of impact. This is where my thinking has got to so far.

Engaging with teacher professionalism and teacher identity will require a commitment to professional learning which will involve new learning or a revisiting of previous learning. This involves teachers developing new knowledge, skills, abilities and developing dispositions, while using literature to underpin their thinking.

Within learning for teachers, we have to consider how adults learn and how to support this learning. This raises questions about whether adult learning is different from children’s learning, and as such, should be structured differently. Knowles in his discussion of adult learning offers his principles of andragogy, which are based on various assumptions and are contested. Hartees’ (1984) critique of Knowles work discusses that adults are essentially self-directing, characterised by their experiences, and have a readiness to learn through a problem solving approach. This is added to by Mezirow’s (1997) research on adult learning, which shows that for adults to experience transformative learning, they must experience something different from children’s learning and become critically reflective of their own and others practice.
This begs the question of national bodies such as GTCS as to how can they support adult learning that is required to move the teaching profession to a research enriched profession? The answer will involve providing teachers with a range of opportunities in a variety of formats that offer rich, creative learning experiences that lead to mastery, which also challenges dispositional stances. This has to be accompanied by effective leadership that promotes teacher agency and can be defined as “the capacity of teachers to act purposefully and constructively to direct their professional growth and contribute to the growth of their colleagues” Calvert (1026:4). This supports the notion of practitioner enquiry being a professional learning activity where practitioners individually or collaboratively engage in enquiry into their own practice and then share findings locally or nationally. This has to be supported with structures of intelligent accountabilities within a positive professional learning environment that promotes a culture of continuous learning – life long learning.
Teacher professionalism and teacher identity is underpinned by the work of Dewey who argues for a scholarly approach to teacher education. This incorporates reflective practice where each learning experience is connected and reflected on holistically. Professional learning which is invoked by intrinsic motivation is more powerful than professional learning which is fostered upon teachers as it supports intellectual stimulation and growth and supports the teachers learning journey. Teachers as learners, like children, need to feel secure in their environment and feel confident in supporting the life-long learner within them. Teachers need to be guided by their thirst for knowledge and desire to learn, but take cognisance of their moral responsibility and the social justice agenda within the accountability framework of the learning community.

Each teacher should be supported to engage in appropriate, for them, professional learning in an environment and with the resources that supports their teacher journey. Sometimes that professional learning can be uncomfortable as we are programmed to ‘make sense of the world’ and sometimes professional learning disrupts our thinking. Teacher learning should be an active experience, typified by professional discussions and activities which involves gaining professional skills, knowledge, abilities through practitioner enquiry and professional learning.

Schools should try to create opportunities for professional learning in an environment that stimulates professional dialogue and encourages practitioner enquiry. Professional dialogue is an intensely social activity and through the internalisation of dialogue connections to ideas and thoughts ‘contributes to ‘sense making’ for each individual. So, sharing through verbalising is powerful as teachers make sense of their internal monologue and supports others to build on their knowledge and understanding.
For teachers, this means participatory modes of professional learning, creating a collaborative community of learners which involves all teachers within the community contributing what they can to building knowledge for the shared benefit for all, in an environment which celebrated difference.