The Insider and Outsider Model of Professional Learning

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Rethinking Educational Practice Through Reflexive Inquiry, 2011, pp. 183 - 196
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Both authors have had the privilege of working closely with Susan GroundwaterSmith over the last 15 years. Her influence on our work as teacher educators and researchers has been profound. In particular, Groundwater-Smith’s research methodology for working closely alongside teachers to explicate pedagogical knowledge, good teaching practice and the processes of professional learning has provided a rich and enduring model for our own work and is reflected in the case studies reported in this chapter. The purpose of our chapter is to develop a model of teachers’ professional learning that considers the ways in which pedagogical knowledge is generated within the practice of the classroom, through formal and informal professional exchange that takes place inside schools, as well as through the contribution of research methods and research expertise that is brought in from outside the school. The argument developed in the chapter is that pedagogical innovation is both dependent upon, and enhanced by, a close alignment between the above dimensions of practice. The chapter presents two case studies of pedagogical innovation in and across school classrooms. The first case, Engaging Pedagogy, speculated about a ‘fresh technology equation’ conceptualised to promote high levels of intellectual engagement where the pedagogy required particular technology tools, content integration and a ‘meddler in the middle’. The second case concerns a school–university research partnership that aimed to document pedagogical knowledge and professional learning in a group of rural schools using new technologies. The cases track the forms of professional learning that enabled teachers to explore, develop and sustain pedagogical innovation associated with new classroom technologies. The cases also explicate the pedagogical knowledge developed by teachers working with these technologies. While the policy default for professional learning is typically either a somewhat ill-defined form of action research or a ‘one-shot’ session delivered by an outside expert, the cases in this chapter provide the grounds for a sustained and robust model of professional learning.
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