Exchanging Knowledge and Building Communities via International Networking

This paper is linked to a doctoral study focusing on the impact of international networking and knowledge exchange on the professional identity of teachers. It explores the experience of teachers from the Balkans working with colleagues in the UK. However, its implications and relevance in terms of international networking are far broader. In this paper I first outline a conceptual framework which illuminates some of the challenges and rewards of constructing a professional identity within a professional community that crosses national boundaries. Previous studies have often portrayed professional relationships as being by definition unequal when involving nations in differing economic positions but these have not presented the entire picture. In fact the levels of self-efficacy and self-confidence amongst teachers engaged in such programmes from all nations can be very high. The paper explores the proposition that these teachers may not primarily be interested in transferring practice but may have a broader democratic agenda reflecting a self-perception as skilled professionals and societal leaders and also that they may have valid reasons for participation in terms of their own professional growth. The data for this paper was drawn from interviews with education professionals from the Balkan nations (specifically from Macedonia) who have been involved in working on and developing teacher leadership programmes in their own settings in connection with larger international programmes. The discussion of data includes an exploration of a series of interrelated themes. These encompass a discussion of the extent to which these teachers share a common professional identity;



Author Information
James Underwood, University of Northampton, UK

Paper Information
Conference: ACEID2016
Stream: Education for intercultural communication

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