L1 educators writing together in hybrid professional learning communities: International perspectives

Submitted by: Fleur Diamond
Abstract: There is strong global agreement that educators who are actively engaged in ongoing, collaborative professional learning promote their own development and that of the teaching communities of which they are a part (Schleicher, 2016). Despite this apparent consensus, there is lively debate about the professional learning practices that institutions, sectors or governments should or should not invest in, and about what kinds of accountability regimes best support or constrain these practices (Holloway & Brass, 2018). The writing practices that L1 teachers and teacher educators undertake for, or in, their professional learning is one topic that has provoked such debates.
Of particular interest to this symposium is the literature that explores the writing undertaken within and stimulated by hybrid professional communities of educators. In these communities, individuals from different spaces periodically come together to write and talk as an important dimension of their professional learning lives. The most widely known instance is the 44 year old ‘National Writing Project’ (NWP) in the US, which continues to operate with over 200 networks across the country. In the UK and New Zealand, educators conducted a form of National Writing Project, although the character of the writing and the pedagogy utilised in those projects is often quite different. Advocates of NWPs in all these countries write about their capacity to inspire and empower individual educators, and describe ways that the projects facilitate and recognise reflective practice, enable the sharing of knowledge, build networks, and promote identity work. In other countries, including Australia, Israel and parts of Europe, smaller-scale and shorter-term communities of L1 educators have been researched, revealing similarly wide-ranging outcomes.
The three papers in this international symposium respond to the question: ‘How does writing in hybrid L1 professional communities across the world shape the practices, experiences and identity work of L1 educators who participate in these communities?’ The symposium offers a framework for understanding how writing can benefit individual and collective professional learning, and also how writing together in hybrid professional communities can best be facilitated and developed in the face of increasingly powerful accountability regimes.

teacher writing; teacher educators; professional learning; accountability regimes; communities of practice

Holloway, J., & Brass, J. (2018). Making accountable teachers: The terrors and pleasures of performativity. Journal of Education Policy, 33(3), 361-382, DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2017.1372636
Schleicher, A. (2016). Teaching excellence through professional learning and policy reform: Lessons from around the world, International summit on the teaching profession, Paris: OECD. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264252059-en