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What happens when History Teachers talk? Teacher perspectives of informal virtual teaching communities for professional learning.

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posted on 04.07.2022, 10:25 authored by Jenny Hall

  

This research study examines the impact of virtual professional collaborative learning communities on classroom teachers from their perspective. Traditionally, Continued Professional Development (CPD) for teachers is taught in-school during short sessions, with limited follow-up time to process and apply the learning, and a lack of subject-specific opportunities. This is best summed up in Enser (2021) where he describes the “tales of woe” from teachers experiencing poor CPD. The research centres on a case study of the History Teacher Book Club, an online, Twitter-based group for History teachers wanting to develop their subject knowledge and skills. It aims to explore how changing the nature of CPD for teachers to incorporate informal online teaching communities can potentially enhance classroom performance in a way that is accessible, enjoyable, and beneficial, whilst overcoming barriers such as time and confidence. 

The findings of this study strongly suggest that there are clear benefits for teachers belonging to an active learning community, such as opportunities for collaboration with other teachers, and the confidence to use enhanced subject knowledge. The data indicates that these benefits are enhanced rather than hindered by being online, providing flexibility and less time pressure. However, most notably, the findings challenge the notion that this type of practice is suitable to be transferred into school CPD programmes, suggesting that providing time and opportunity to engage with external groups would be more beneficial. 

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