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Judging by the (law)book: incident reports and teachers’ professional knowledge in times of accountability
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2015 (English)In: Abstract book, NERA 4-6 March 2015: marketisation and differentiation in education, 2015, 136-137 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Over the last decades schools’ documentation and administration have increased. In addition, schools have become increasingly governed by texts in the form of laws, curricula, goals and plans. Thus interpreting and producing text has become a new and important dimension in teacher professionalism. One new feature in this context is the obligation to report incidents concerning abusive treatment to the head teacher/preschool head and the governing body. Introduced in the new school act in 2011, this duty has produced new forms of work and considerations.

The aim of this paper is to analyse consequences of accountability-driven text based teacher duties, for changes in teachers’ professional knowledge.

- What forms of professional knowledge are involved in practices of incident reporting?

The concept of jurdification (Teubner 1987, Brännström 2009) is framing our understanding of this process. The paper draws on Freeman and Sturdy’s (2014) phenomenology of knowledge in policy and the forms or phases that such knowledge may take, namely as embodied, inscribed and enacted. We thus see teachers’ work and professionalism as a way of doing policy. Inspired by Freeman and Sturdy we employ the above scheme as an “observational language” for empirical research and reflection. The paper is based on a case study involving interviews with teachers, head teachers and staff working with students’ social and physical health.

The preliminary findings suggest that the new framing of incidents and the obligation to write incident reports have produced new forms of teacher knowledge. Historically, teachers have, relying on their tacit knowledge, sought to resolve conflicts by oral dialogues with pupils and parents. Today teachers must increasingly produce and adhere to formal plans on what counts as incidents and eventually transform this into yet another written text – an incident report – where each and every word is to be balanced in order not to be misunderstood or cause future problems for individuals or organisations (schools or governing bodies). Traditional embodied knowledge about how to handle and foster students in conflict is being replaced by new competencies and sensitivities related to formal definitions, strategic language use and behaviour.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. 136-137 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-103058OAI: diva2:812343
The 43rd Annual Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA)
Available from: 2015-05-18 Created: 2015-05-18 Last updated: 2015-12-18Bibliographically approved

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Hult, AgnetaLindgren, Joakim
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