This research investigated whether structuring an inquiry-oriented professional learning network to include school-based co-teaching partners would amplify educators' success in…
This research investigated whether structuring an inquiry-oriented professional learning network to include school-based co-teaching partners would amplify educators' success in taking up and adapting evidence-based understandings and practices as meaningful in their contexts. Our research questions were: (1) What conditions did educators identify in the PLN overall that supported their co-construction of knowledge and practice development together? and (2) How did including co-teaching partners in the PLN help participants to mobilize knowledge and/or practices in the contexts where they were working?
A qualitative case study design was used because of its potential to examine how and why questions about complex processes as situated in context (Butler, 2011; Yin, 2014). A case study methodology allowed us to collect and coordinate multiple forms of evidence (i.e. interviews, teacher reflective writing, classroom artifacts, field notes) to examine both how conditions created within the PLN supported learning and how co-teaching partners were mobilizing what they were learning in their school contexts. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and data was analyzed abductively through an iterative and recursive process (Braun et al., 2018).
Conditions within the PLN overall that participants identified as supportive to their knowledge mobilization and practice development included: having a shared focus, feeling accountability to the group, collaborative enactment of practices within the PLN, large group sharing and debriefing, sustained cycles of collaborative inquiry, affective support, valuing diversity and drawing from expert others as resources. Participants also identified the benefits that accrued specifically from working with co-teaching partners. In addition, findings showed how the degree to which partners engaged in rich forms of collaborative inquiry could be related to their learning and situated practice development.
Findings show the generative potential of inviting co-teaching partners into a PLN to engage in collaborative inquiry with others. PLNs offer the benefit of engaging with educators from outside of one's practice context, which enables pushing their thinking in new directions. Our findings add to the literature by revealing how in situ knowledge mobilization can be amplified when educators participating within a PLN are also working through cycles of inquiry with a co-teaching partner. Overall, this study offers a PLN model where teachers have built-in support for knowledge co-creation and mobilization both within and outside of their school contexts.
In a time of rapid policy and curriculum change, teachers must be knowledge workers who continue to develop professionally. Professional learning networks (PLNs) offer teachers…
In a time of rapid policy and curriculum change, teachers must be knowledge workers who continue to develop professionally. Professional learning networks (PLNs) offer teachers the opportunity to develop professionally by positioning them as inquirers into their own practice and authors and agents of situated innovation. Six examples of PLNs are introduced in this book to illustrate key attributes of PLNs that build educators’ ownership, practice, and expertise. Also highlighted is the potential of PLNs to address questions of equity, both for educators working in remote and rural communities who have limited access to professional development and other resources, and diverse learners and equity-seeking communities (e.g., Indigenous communities, non-dominant cultural groups). Scholar, practitioner, and policy audiences can benefit greatly from the PLNs described here and draw from these case studies to inform equity-oriented PLNs centering the importance of teachers, students, engagement, collaboration, and rural place in educational transformation efforts.
Research is starting to suggest the value of professional learning networks (PLN) in terms of supporting educators in their practice. But further research is needed into how…
Research is starting to suggest the value of professional learning networks (PLN) in terms of supporting educators in their practice. But further research is needed into how teachers’ on-going learning and practice development can be supported by features unique to a PLN. To fill that gap, the research described in this chapter examined the ways in which opportunities and supports for educators embedded within a unique multi-layered PLN enhanced and strengthened their knowledge and practice. Across one-year of a longitudinal project, we gathered multiple forms of evidence to trace 18 teachers’ experiences. Findings reported in this chapter identified conditions in the PLN overall that were combining to support teachers’ inquiry-oriented learning and practice. In addition, the authors conducted an in-depth analysis of one teacher’s experiences. The detailed analyses of this embedded case further uncovered how supports at different “grain sizes” (i.e., across the year; out-of-class activities; reflections in/on practice) were combining to foster shifts in her practice and transformative learning over time. The authors conclude with implications for conceptualizing how a multi-layered PLN can be structured to support teachers’ professional learning and practice development.
Rural schools have typically been strong on community but weak on professional learning. Their small size and geographical isolation have meant that much of the recent reform…
Rural schools have typically been strong on community but weak on professional learning. Their small size and geographical isolation have meant that much of the recent reform movement focused on professional learning communities has passed them by. But there is no reason why rural educators cannot participate in professional learning networks (PLNs) and benefit from heightened levels of collegiality that can be experienced across schools. However, intentional design for deeper collaborative work and face-to-face connection is necessary for PLN members to reap the benefits from increased professional capital and teacher leadership opportunities. This chapter describes the work of the Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement (NW RISE) network in the United States. NW RISE brings together rural educators in gatherings that take place every six months, helps them to form “job-alike” groups focused on academic subject matter or cross-contextual themes, and provides support for shared curriculum design. This chapter describes how rural educators have seized upon the resources in NW RISE to promote student engagement and to develop their professional capacity across the network’s schools.
International educational research has shown that high quality coaching, mentoring, and induction for beginning teachers can enhance development and retention of highly effective…
International educational research has shown that high quality coaching, mentoring, and induction for beginning teachers can enhance development and retention of highly effective teachers and, ultimately, increase student success. In Canada, like many jurisdictions, teacher induction programs have grown in popularity as a means to support beginning teachers, yet programs vary greatly in terms of delivery and effectiveness. This chapter presents the findings from a qualitative case study that examined one bespoke teacher induction program in the Western Québec School Board (WQSB). Specifically, it reports on the experience of mentor–coaches (MC) who are part of the school district’s Mentoring and Coaching Fellowship (MCF). In the district, mentoring and coaching are viewed as distinct, yet interconnected components of an effective induction program. In the WQSB, teaching fellows and MCs learn together in a social and situated context (Lave & Wenger, 1991) as they focus on four key elements: the practice of teaching, navigating school and district culture, what it means to be a teacher, and the formation of a teaching identity. Research has shown effective coaching and mentoring programs not only enhance teaching and learning, but also they offer powerful benefits to veteran teachers. With mentoring and coaching practice highly diverse and inconsistent depending on the quality of the relationship and the context, it is clear that effective selection, support and professional learning and development for MCs is essential. This chapter examines the strengths and challenges of the school district’s Mentor–Coach Professional Learning Network (MC PLN) from the perspective of network members. Data collected from questionnaires, focus groups and semi-structured interviews were abductively analyzed with and against Brown and Poortman’s (2018) five supporting conditions for effective PLNs. Study findings indicated that the MC PLN offers valuable professional learning and development for participants and is a critical feature in a powerful induction program that also focuses on “growing the top.” However, challenges also emerged that highlight the need for the district to ensure ongoing attention to the PLN’s structure and processes in order to sustain MC motivation, engagement, and commitment.
Educational inequities that are often systemic and the result of structural oppression persist in schools under/serving minoritized youth and communities. This chapter illustrates…
Educational inequities that are often systemic and the result of structural oppression persist in schools under/serving minoritized youth and communities. This chapter illustrates how professional learning networks (PLNs) and the practice of collaborative professionalism within them have served to support educators, positioned at multiple levels, in their effort to serve all children well, and especially those who are most marginalized. Collaborative professionalism emphasizes collective responsibility and student and teacher empowerment through PLNs. Further, the collaborative professionalism model incorporates elements of culture and context to ensure that collaborative efforts are responsive to the students and communities educators are purposed to partner with and serve. In this chapter, the authors highlight two such cases of collaborative professionalism through PLNs in Colombia and Ontario, Canada. These cases provide a model for how collaborative professionalism within PLNs can be utilized to enhance teaching and learning for all teachers and students across cultures and contexts, while attending explicitly to educational inequities.
Reflecting on professional learning networks (PLN) in rural and equity-seeking spaces, the authors foreground the importance of “relational space” in studying PLNs in this…
Reflecting on professional learning networks (PLN) in rural and equity-seeking spaces, the authors foreground the importance of “relational space” in studying PLNs in this commentary. The authors argue that while the complexity of taking a relational approach is challenging, it offers an important and necessary perspective, one which is often implicit in the studies featured in this book but not explicitly considered. The chapter is organized around three broad concepts from social network theory – boundedness, connectedness, and mutuality – which serve as starting points for shifting our gaze from formal system structures to more deeply interrogating the informal relational spaces within PLNs. The authors conclude with a call to make use of network theory and methods on their own, and in complement to other literatures, to do so.
Professional inquiry networks are becoming essential features of effective, innovative, and responsive school systems. In this chapter, the authors draw from their work with a…
Professional inquiry networks are becoming essential features of effective, innovative, and responsive school systems. In this chapter, the authors draw from their work with a team of British Columbia district leaders who use inquiry as a primary means for shifting practice and supporting innovation and change that benefit all learners. The authors argue that networking enables ways for districts to share emerging practices, engage in collective dialogue, draw from exemplary research, and deeply reflect on impacts. In doing so, leaders build strong relational ties and professional capital that accelerates innovation between and among district leaders. Two specific cases develop a deeper understanding of how change is taken up and accelerated at the local level, providing examples of how inquiry networks operate across multiple sites and simultaneously seed and nurture innovative thinking.