The links between collaboration, agency, professional community and learning for teachers in a contemporary secondary school in England

Mike Hudson
Contextualisation In this paper I have used questionnaire data to look at some of my colleagues' conceptions of collaboration, teaching and learning. I have also investigated the connections between the various conceptions of this particular group of teachers. I felt that an investigation into the conceptions of colleagues would be fruitful, based on an assumption that the conceptions of learning held by teachers influence their approach to teaching and learning. In my research I found that
more » ... ch I found that colleagues were readily able to tell me about their experiences of working with other teachers but that they found difficulty in describing 'learning' itself. I therefore needed to devise a methodology that enabled me to illuminate the thinking behind the actions of my colleagues. The data show powerful links between the ways teachers think about their collaboration, teaching and learning. My argument is that conceptions underpin actions, strongly influencing the ways in which teachers work and learn with each other. Collaboration would seem to have the potential to promote agency, professional community (though both appear to be fragile), and learning. Abstract: This paper reports the results of part of a larger case study by an insider researcher. It draws on qualitative and quantitative data to highlight the links between collaboration, agency, professional community and learning among English secondary school teacher colleagues. The focus is on the learning potential of teacher collaboration in a mutually affirming professional community. It is argued that collaboration promotes agency and the ability to influence the way in which a school operates. The ranges of forces that either promote, or constrain, the agency of teachers are identified. In addition, it is argued that collaboration promotes professional community, qualities of trust, mutual respect, and teacher learning, through dialogue. The processes of teacher collaboration are seen to be important in school improvement and the effective learning of students. Some implications for leadership in schools are also identified.