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Teacher leadership for teaching improvement in professional learning communities
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8286-8716
2023 (English)In: Professional Development in Education, ISSN 1941-5257, E-ISSN 1941-5265Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Teacher leaders are increasingly leading learning conversations in professional learning communities (PLCs) in schools in several parts of the world today, but there is little empirical knowledge of teacher leadership in PLC conversations. Thus, this article aims to enhance such knowledge, particularly the development of teacher leadership in PLC conversations. Empirical data were acquired in a study of three Swedish PLCs and consisted of six video observations and 24 interviews with teachers and teacher leaders (hereafter 'first teachers'). The study particularly addressed how professional learning and teaching improvement was encouraged in teacher-led PLC conversations, what tended to be missing, and how the conversations influenced the teaching practices of participating teachers (self-reportedly). The results indicate that the teaching practices did not change in depth if the first teachers focused on acknowledging and sharing PLC conversations about concrete teaching methods. Instead, there seems to be a need for informed teacher leaders who consciously and systematically analyse and support teachers' learning processes, and foster a habit of inquiry among their peers. It is suggested that this should include challenging norms and understandings about what it means to be a learning teacher and requirements to improve teaching practices in the long run.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2023.
Keywords [en]
educational leadership, learning conversations, Professional development, professional learning communities, teacher leaders, teacher leadership
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-207828DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2023.2264286ISI: 001076747700001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85173944995OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-207828DiVA, id: diva2:1754245
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form, with the title: "Teacher leadership for teaching improvement in professional learning communities: more than creating trustful, empowering, and sharing conversations".

Available from: 2023-05-03 Created: 2023-05-03 Last updated: 2023-11-03
In thesis
1. Ledarskap för lärares lärande: förstelärare som lärarledare
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ledarskap för lärares lärande: förstelärare som lärarledare
2023 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Leadership for teacher learning : first teachers as teacher leaders
Abstract [en]

Today, new teacher leader functions are emerging in several parts of the world. Previous research has highlighted the potential of teacher leadership to enhance teacher learning, but also recorded resistance among teachers to being collectively led in efforts to improve teaching and learning. The aim of this thesis is to draw attention to, and contribute knowledge about, local school actors’ explicit and implicit teacher leadership constructions in schools. Three overarching research questions are addressed: 1) How is teacher leadership constructed in schools? 2) How do these constructions enhance and constrain possibilities to lead teacher learning? 3) How can visualising explicit and implicit teacher leadership practices contribute to learning about leadership for teacher learning?

Spillane’s model of distributed leadership and Wenger’s theories of social learning are used to study, analyse, and create knowledge about teacher leadership constructions. Empirically, the thesis is based on material collected in two qualitative studies conducted in Swedish schools in 2019 and 2021/22. This included interviews (58) with visual material and video-observations (6) designed to capture relevant understandings and practices, both explicit and implicit. 

The results show that egalitarian and autonomous norms strongly influence teacher leadership constructions, while ‘first teachers’, whose roles are supposed to include leadership, are solely regarded as teachers, not leaders, with unrecognized functions and practices. The mainly acknowledging and facilitative teacher leader practices both enhance and constrain teachers’ learning. On one hand, teachers are encouraged to share ideas and try out alternative teaching methods, while on the other hand, current methods and perspectives on teaching and learning tend to be conserved rather than challenged. Supportive and acknowledging leadership practices therefore need to be combined with challenging of perspectives and a habit of inquiry. By visualising explicit and implicit understandings and teacher leadership practices, local school actors and researchers can gain new insights about ways to develop and improve teacher leadership to promote learning. Four conclusions are drawn: 1) Local school actors’ understandings of teacher leadership need to be nuanced, challenged, and developed. 2) Leaders for learning need to manage learning as both individual and collective, concrete and abstract, acknowledging and challenging. 3) Conscious choices and changes are needed at all organisational levels to utilise teacher leaders’ capacities. 4) Visualisation of, and reflection on, explicit and implicit understandings and practices contribute to more conscious choices and changes in leadership for learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2023. p. 93
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 129
Series
Umeå studies in the educational sciences ; 61
Keywords
teacher leadership, teacher leaders, educational leadership, professional development, professional learning communities, middle leadership, middle leaders, lärarledarskap, lärarledare, mellanledarskap, mellanledare, förstelärare, professionellt lärande, professionella lärandegemenskaper, utbildningsledarskap, skolutveckling
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-207829 (URN)978-91-8070-032-0 (ISBN)978-91-8070-033-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-06-02, Lindellhallen 1 (hörsal UB.A.210), Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-05-12 Created: 2023-05-03 Last updated: 2024-07-02Bibliographically approved

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Grimm, Frida

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