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Competing Colleagues or Collegiality as a mean for Competition? Teacher Collegiality in a Restructured Educational System.

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Katarina Samuelsson
Publicerad i ECER. Porto 1-5 september, 2014
Volym 2014
Publiceringsår 2014
Publicerad vid Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik
Språk en
Ämnesord Teacher’s work, Collegiality, Educational restructuring, teacher cultures
Ämneskategorier Pedagogiskt arbete


In focus of this text is how collegiality in teachers’ work can be understood in a restructured educational system. In Swedish schools, there has been an increased demand for teacher cooperation and since the 1980s teacher teams working around the students have become common. Almost at the same time the educational system was restructured e.g. in terms of deregulation, privatisation and school vouchers. Business-like ways of of organizing and governing like this was introduced in education in order to increase efficiency and international competitiveness (Hudson, 2007, Johannesson, 2002). Both, in part conflicting ways of organizing teachers’ work, is said to have impact on student results and teachers’ professionalization. In this study the concept of teacher cultures will be used. In accordance with Hargreaves (1994:166) I see teacher cultures as contextual and in accordance with Goodson (2003) I regard teachers’ work to be politically and socially constructed (Goodson, 2003:52). The concept of teacher cultures can be said to include convictions, values and ways of acting (Hargreaves 1994). Here, I want to learn more about teacher cultures in relation to teacher collegiality. The study is based on previous research on teacher learning communities (TLC) where teachers work and learn together (McLaughlin, 2001, 2006) and research on teachers’ work under restructuring in Europe (Goodson & Lindblad, 2011, Samuelsson & Lindblad, 2013). In this paper the aspect of competition will be conceptualized as teachers’ perception of the school’s application rates. Collegiality will be conceptualized through the concept of teacher learning communities (TLC). TLC has different definitions, but what they have in common is: "they all feature a common image of a professional community where teachers work collaboratively to reflect on their practice, examine evidence about the relationship between practice and student outcomes, and make changes that improve teaching and learning for the particular students in their classes" (McLaughlin, M.W. & Talbert, J.E. 2006:4). This text argues that it is important to study teacher collegiality in a restructured educational system, since both organizing principles claim ways for student success (McLaughlin, 2001, Lindblad, 2010). McLaughlin shows that the correlation between teacher learning communities and student results is high. However, Lundahl (2011) shows that in a restructured educational system everybody is competing at all levels. How can this relation be understood? Can teacher cultures in terms of collegiality be seen as a way of competing on a school market or is there competition between colleagues within schools? I put forward two questions: 1. What variation is there in collegiality in Swedish teacher cultures? 2) How can collegiality in teacher cultures be understood in a restructured educational system where competition is central? It could be expected that in a restructured educational system collegiality is strong, following McLaughlin’s research (2001) on teacher learning communities and their correlation to teachers’ professionalization and student results. These factors could be expected as being important in a school competing over students. In addition there has been a long strive for teacher cooperation in Swedish schools. However, Lundahl (2011) shows that there is competition on all levels in the educational system, not only between public and independent schools, which would suggest that collegiality is at stake. This paper wants to study this correlation and discuss how teacher cultures can be understood in terms of collegiality and competition.

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