Today I chaired a symposium at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference. The symposium was titled ‘Education research that engages with multiple voices: Flipping the Australian education system’. I presented alongside other authors from the just-published book Flip the System Australia: What Matters in Education: Dr Kevin Lowe, Dr Melitta Hogarth, Professor Bob Lingard, Associate Professor Greg Thompson, and Associate Professor Scott Eacott. You can get a sneak peek of our papers, which appear as chapters in the book, on Google Books.
Below I share the title, abstract, and slides from my presentation.
Elevating the professional identities and voices of teachers and school leaders in educational research, practice, and policymaking
Flipping the system is not as simple as upending the current decision-making tower in education; it is about eking out, listening to, and elevating the voices of those on the ground in our schools. Often the subjective voices and intricate identities of teachers and school leaders are absent, marginalised, or simplified in educational research, practice, and policymaking.
This paper analyses interview data from an empirical study of one Australian school in order to interrogate the nexus between teacher, school leadership, and school, from the perspective of those working in classrooms and schools. It was crucial to include in this study those voices often at the nadir of the system: teachers and middle leaders who are frequently overlooked in school reform efforts.
The paper advocates for considering the identities, voices, and professional autonomy of teachers, and also considering the complex, unpredictable work of school leaders as they navigate fluid and multiple identities, and competing pressures. It argues that the system has the potential to be an inclusive and collaborative crucible in which those working in schools are given platforms to speak, in which teacher and school leader experience and professionalism is trusted.
I used images of the kaleidoscope in my presentation, a metaphor for identity that I’ve explored in a previous blog post. The slides don’t tell the whole story of what I had to say, but they give a sense of it, and some people who attended have requested that I share them.