Claire Woolhouse suggested this article for one of our reading sessions next term, and has kindly written the following synopsis.
Luehmann, A. 2008, ‘Using Blogging in support of teacher professional identity development: a case study’ in the journal of the learning sciences, 17:287-337.
This is a fascinating article that provides as case study of how one science teacher used a weblog to reflect on her practice which, it is argued, supported the development of her professional identity.
This paper draws on themes of e-learning, the development of teachers as reflective practitioners, peer mentoring (via comments on blog), professional development and identity construction. It also offers an interesting qualitative analysis that is grounded by theory.
Luehman explores how teachers must develop subject and pedagogic knowledge but also position themselves within a community of practice and develop themselves personally. She argues that identities are formed as individual teachers engage with educational discourses and recognise their own participation in such communities (P293). Specifically Luehman systematically looked for 5 aspects on the blog: vision, understanding, disposition, practice and tools which according to Darling-Hammond et al (2005) are necessary elements of for teacher education (P294-6).
It is noted on P299 that a variety of people read the blog including fellow teachers, union members and the Department of Ed. Since her work appears to be having an impact on the wider community perhaps such a blog could be considered to be a form of scholarly output!
In the analysis of what the blogger focused on in her posts, Luehman identifies ‘community building’ as the most common. This suggest that ‘belonging’ and contributing to such a community was central to recognising and developing herself as a professional (P308-310).
The detailed discussion on p312-315 details the types of curriculum decisions the blogger had to make about teaching and reveals in-depth reflection related to negotiating the curriculum. Leuhman traces the bloggers reflections and argues this can alter classroom and pedagogic practices but also develops and alters a sense of professional identity (P318). This paper also considers how individual reflection can address particular ‘education issues’ in this example: student diversity (P319-324). Particularly good is her process of thinking through the regulations about student appearance and how she feels about upholding the school rules on this type of issue (P321-2) and the discussion of coercion and classroom management on P322-3.
Luehman concludes that this blogger was able to use her reflective writing to wrestle with issues and gain insight which could have implications for practice (P326-7). But, while blogs can provide opportunities for self-directed development, how it is used by individuals will impact upon how useful they are for individuals (331-4) regarding community building, knowledge brokering, mentoring with peers and identity development. Blogs are particular useful because they are like reflective journals but can draw in peer mentoring while retaining safety through anonymity.