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How do ecological perspectives help understand schools as sites for teacher learning?

Daly, C; Milton, E; Langdon, F; (2020) How do ecological perspectives help understand schools as sites for teacher learning? Professional Development in Education , 46 (4) pp. 652-663. 10.1080/19415257.2020.1787208. Green open access

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Abstract

Schools are sites of teachers’ professional learning for both new entrants and experienced practitioners. In this paper, schools are conceptualised as complex, multidimensional ecologies that are constituted by the relations that exist between school leaders, teachers, mentors and all members of the school community. As relational environments, the conditions affecting professional learning – both formal and informal – are constantly dynamic, with multiple and simultaneous interactions taking place between these stakeholders. Interactions are also multi-layered – between the school system, individuals, classrooms, the community and the policy environment. School leaders are a major influence on these dynamics and affect how schools act as sites of professional formation, mediating external policy as well as affecting micro-dynamics within individual school systems. The challenge of realising professional learning within these relational contexts can be viewed as a ‘wicked problem’, a feature of complex systems that resists simplified solutions. In conceptualising a complex ecology at work, we illuminate the relational dynamics with a focus, for all stakeholders within schools, including leaders, on the need to recognise and value the importance of ‘emergence’ in professional learning. This means embracing inevitable uncertainty as a feature of schools as complex systems.

Type: Article
Title: How do ecological perspectives help understand schools as sites for teacher learning?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2020.1787208
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/19415257.2020.1787208
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Complexity, ecologies, professional learning, relations, school leaders
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103409
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