Supervision 2: Slight change of course

The Splits by Ian Sane
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I came to today’s discussion with a degree of trepidation and some concerns about my study, its focus and research questions that have been rumbling around for a while. I’ve been reading literature on social theory (Archer 1998; Foucault, Bourdieu in Murphy, 2013) theoretical literature on professional learning communities and professional learning(Stoll 2006; Webster-Wright; Watson, 2012); professional learning communities in practice (Coburn,2008; Priestley,2010; Horn & Little, 2009) organisational learning (Boreham & Morgan, 2004, Imants)and methodology literature (Flyvjberg in Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). All of this was within the context of learning rounds as a model of professional learning communities. But I felt I was not getting the right purchase on this literature -something was orbiting around my thoughts looking for a place to land but not finding it.
Last night I attended the Selmas Spring Forum – a most civilised event involving dinner and several speakers on the subject of Transforming Schools – ambition and reality? There was a lot of chat about Learning Rounds at my table and one of the speakers focused on this for her perspective of transforming schools. There is undoubtedly a lot of enthusiasm within the educational community for Learning Rounds – it seems to offer teachers and leaders a workable response to many of the policy and practice imperatives currently circulating. But more and more I am getting the impression that Learning Rounds as they are currently practised are more an event,and less the embodiment of a learning community. This is a hunch – as far as I know it has not been researched. My own research into Learning Rounds focused on protocols and practice, with reference specifically to how the LR was established and what went on at the discussion stage of the process. I don’t see a problem here (except the lack of research) but it does make my approach to the literature so far look a bit off track.
So in discussion today with Mark thoughts started to crystallise a bit. Maybe I should refocus the study onto educational change processes and how policies migrate and refract through the various stages of implementation and interpretation they go through. Learning Rounds would provide an interesting example of this, as a practice which was adapted originally from the medical world, exported, adopted by policy makers, then refracted into different contexts and social practices in schools. Archer’s theory of morphogenesis and morphostasis – how agents act upon structures and change them, resulting in both elements being changed, and this process being repeated over time – affords a framework for a detailed analysis of change processes(this is sketchy – I will need to read much further into this)which fits well with a Learning Rounds-as-travelling policy-or-practice conceptualisation.
So I am going to refocus my reading onto educational change literature, and reframe my questions around aspects of policy intentions and social practices; to what extent are we seeing morphogenetic (or morphostatic) changes in the policy and what effects are these changes having on the social practices involved in Learning Rounds?
Next task – shape up the RQs properly and make a start on the literature review.

ARCHER, M et al.,(ed) 1998. Critical Realism: essential readings

BOREHAM, N. and MORGAN, C., . A sociocultural analysis of organisational learning. Oxford Review of Education, 2004: 30(3), pp. 307-325.

COBURN, C and RUSSELL, J.L.,  District Policy and Teachers’ Social Networks Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis;2008 30; 203

DENZIN, N.K. and LINCOLN, Y.S., eds, 2011. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. 4 edn. Thousand Oaks, California, USA: SAGE.

MURPHY, M (ed) Social Theory and Education Research. 2013

HORN, I.S. and LITTLE, J.W., 2009. Attending to Problems of Practice: Routines and Resources for Professional Learning in Teachers’ Workplace Interactions. American Educational Research Journal, 47(1), pp. 181-217.

IMANTS, J. and VAN VEEN, K., 2009. Teacher Learning as Workplace Learning. In: N. VERLOOP, ed, International Encyclopaedia of Teacher Education. 3 edn.

PRIESTLEY, M. :Schools, teachers and curriculum change: a balancing act. J Educ Change: 2011, 12, 1-23

STOLL, L., BOLAM, R., MCMAHON, A., WALLACE, M. and THOMAS, S., 2006. Professional Learning Communities: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Educational Change, 7(4), pp. 221-258.

WATSON, C., 2010. Educational policy in Scotland: inclusion and the control society. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 31(1), pp. 93-104.

WEBSTER-WRIGHT, A., 2009. Reframing Professional Development Through Understanding Authentic Professional Learning. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), pp. 702-739.

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About catrionao

I'm a PhD student at Stirling University, studying a school based practice of teacher professional learning. I also do online facilitation for various organisations such as SELMAS and the Strategic Leadership Development Programme.
This entry was posted in Learning Rounds, PhD, supervision and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Supervision 2: Slight change of course

  1. Hilary McColl says:

    An interesting change of focus, Catriona. It reminds me of a literature review I was involved with in association with Joanna McPake where we reviewed policy statements and practice guidelines across the spectrum of public bodies. We found numerous examples where what Joanna called ‘the critical path’ had broken down, so that practice guidelines for front line staff were sometimes at odds with principles as originally stated.

  2. catrionao says:

    Thanks Hilary for your interest and insights. I still feel like I’m flailing round a bit with it all, but the beginnings of something seem to be in touching distance! I’ve been meaning to contact you – will drop you an email.

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