Changing practices in secondary schools: Agency, habitus and decision-making for democratic professionalism

Year: 2017

Author: Wall, Lynda, Parveen, Reshma, Arnold, Julie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract: Democratic professionals engage in a process of negotiating what should be valued in education, what is needed in their contexts, and how relationships can be developed to meet learners' needs. Australian secondary schools are experiencing a period of rapid change in curriculum, assessment and the public discourses of managerial accountability. This symposium asks how teachers' agency can be valued in the enactment of change, building a democratic professionalism. The three papers represent case-studies of curriculum enactment. The first, "Talking ourselves into agency: secondary school English faculties and the challenge of articulating democratic professionalism", applies critical discourse analysis in a multiple case study project with a focus on curriculum enactment prior to national literacy testing (NAPLAN). This research provokes discussion about the role teacher-leaders play in enabling democratic professionalism in English. Utilizing Bourdieu's concept of habitus and its transformative nature, the second paper "Re-conceptualizing educational change: Transforming practices through reflexive habitus" explores spaces of change and transforming practices amid a national curriculum reform. The third paper provides a practical example of change; with the support of the researcher, English teachers use systemic functional linguistics (SFL) as a framework to guide collaborative and individual decision-making about specific professional learning needs. Together these papers contribute to a dialogue about the possibilities of positive change for democratic professionalism.