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Teachers sharing resources online
Teachers sharing resources online

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1.1 Pedagogical approaches

The approach that we take here draws on models of adult learning (Knowles, 1975), reflective practice (Schön, 1983; Eraut, 1994, 2000), social constructivism (see, for example, Vygotsky, 1978), communities of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998, 2006) and the teacher as learner (see, for example, Cochrane-Smith and Lytle, 1999). In these ways we see teachers as learning together and constructing new shared knowledge. In doing so a community is developed around the learning, knowledge and the resources, and individual teachers adopt roles within the community. Those who come new to the community are apprenticed into it (Lave and Wenger, 1991). Those who have shared many resources and who are looked upon as experts by others, become the ‘elders’ of the community (Kim, 2000), and may be regarded as leaders of learning (see, for example, Swaffield and Macbeath, 2011).

A shifting context of professional development

The sharing of resources provides, we believe, an ad hoc basis for professional development (PD). At its simplest level this is through exposure to new ideas, content and methods. At a deeper level it comes through the immersion in a community of peers from whom a teacher learns. Such activity is set against the wider picture of PD, a picture which is changing as governments find new ways of working with their teaching force. These can be seen in the devolution of control for PD in England, the emergence of a leading role in PD for the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the establishment of the Professional Academy for Teachers in Egypt, the national schemes of PD in India, etc.

Alongside this comes the rise of peer-to-peer PD, of which resource sharing is a part. This is fostered by the democratising actions of technology-enabled social media whereby Twitter and other online networks are tools of PD as well as for entertainment (Forte et al., 2012). It is also seen in the rise of the TeachMeet movement [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] enabling teachers to meet and talk directly with other teachers.

Activity 2

Timing: 20 minutes

Reflect on your own context. Where do you get professional development from?


This might include formal programmes of in-school training, it may come from a local, regional or national provider, or from a university and perhaps include Masters level work. On the other hand it might also include discussions and work with peers in your school or elsewhere and it might include sharing and developing of resources.