Professional Learning through boundary crossing

Sarah Catharine Cornelius, Mhairi Catherine Beaton

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The need for effective ongoing professional learning opportunities for the teaching workforce is widely acknowledged. Across Europe, teachers face the challenge of the most diverse classrooms in our history. Reflecting the
changing nature and increasing diversity of our society, classrooms include children and young people with special or additional educational needs, those from diverse cultural backgrounds, non-native language speakers, those disadvantaged by poverty, and those with lives disrupted by migration and family separations. Teachers are considered the most significant in-school factors influencing student achievement (Hattie, 2009). Teacher educators need opportunities to explore diversity and learn from unfamiliar contexts to support trainees. This paper explores the lived experiences of professional educators
(classroom teachers and teacher educators) involved in transnational learning events during an Erasmus Plus programme, PROLEA, which was designed to explore practice in complex professional environments.

Five-day learning events were organised in six institutions in four European countries (Germany, Slovenia, Netherlands and Scotland). Each learning event focused on the work being done by the host institution, but there
was a common focus on the use of reflection and portfolio as professional learning tools throughout all events. Participants kept learning diaries throughout each event and the final activity of the week allowed reflective sharing of significant learning moments. In these reflective dialogues, there was no evidence of reluctance to engage in reflection and dialogue about practice noted by Davies, Howes and Farrell (2008). Instead, the learning weeks
were notable for the intense dialogue and critical explorations of both local and international practices. Following each learning event, participants were invited to create a narrative recording the experience. No guidelines were given to participants as to how this might be recorded so that the participants had control over this aspect of the process. Some chose to write, some to draw and some to audio-record their experiences. Pantic’s (2015) model for teacher agency for social justice was used to thematically analyse the resulting narratives; focusing on the core elements of sense of purpose, competence, autonomy and reflexivity.
Findings indicated that participants who held a deep commitment to remaining a learner, in the socio-cultural sense of learning throughout their professional
career, were keen to participate in these learning events. This commitment seemed to lead to a pre-disposition to engage in boundary crossing actions that permitted them to think in novel ways about some of the challenges of
educational practice within contemporary Europe. The paper looks at the different aspects of this pre-disposition and concludes with a consideration of how this might be achieved for the wider professional education community.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2018
EventAssociation for Teacher Education in Europe Annual Conference 2018: A future for all: teaching for a sustainable society - University of Gavle, Gavle, Sweden
Duration: 20 Aug 201822 Aug 2018
Conference number: 43


ConferenceAssociation for Teacher Education in Europe Annual Conference 2018
Internet address


  • teacher education
  • boundary crossing
  • professional learning


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