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Learning communities in educational partnerships: action research as transformation

Learning communities in educational partnerships: action research as transformation

Glenn, Máìrín, author

Wenger-Trayner says that this story of special social places needs to be told. Learning Communities in Educational Partnerships tells how theory and practice come into lived interplay in social spaces where theory informs practice and practice turns into theory. It is an accessible guide which encourages students and practitioners working within communities, including school-college/university partnerships, to develop a critical and questioning disposition and be open to the idea of engaging with the research process, so that they may have the potential to become influential in many educational settings. The authors begin by drawing on their own experiences of becoming a learning community as they studied for their PhDs. They introduce the ideas underpinning self-study action research. This is a form of action research that, they argue, is supportive of transformation and acknowledges the idea that practitioners are capable of making their own judgements. Through a series of first hand practitioner accounts, the chapters go on to describe and explain how to engage in processes of inquiry and establish learning communities, how to make space for professional conversations and how to develop living theories (Whitehead 1989) from within daily practice. The practical examples used are from the authors' own experiences in learning communities, and focus on the immediate educational concerns of teachers with the aim of improving practice and developing educational theory. Chapter introductions and reflective questions will help to support students and guide readers in developing their own learning communities within educational partnerships. Learning Communities in Educational Partnerships helps to show how meaningful change can take place, both in educational improvements and also in more transformative professional learning, when educators are encouraged to draw on their own personal educational values and share their ideas in a learning community

eBook, Paperback, Hardback, Electronic resource, Book. English.
Published London, UK; New York, NY, USA: Bloomsbury Academic, [2017]
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Statement of responsibility: Máìrín Glenn, Mary Roche, Caitriona McDonagh and Bernie Sullivan
ISBN: 1474243568, 1474243576, 1474243584, 1474243592, 1474243606, 9781474243568, 9781474243575, 9781474243582, 9781474243599, 9781474243605
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: 1 online resource
Subject: Action research in education.; Professional learning communities.; Interdisciplinary approach in education.
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014. Available via World Wide Web. Access limited by licensing agreement.
Other formats: Also issued in print.


  1. Foreword, Etienne Wenger-Trayner
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Glossary
  4. Introduction
  5. 1. A Professional Partnership, M?ir?n Glenn
  6. 2. Action Research as the Glue in Professional Learning Partnerships, M?ir?n Glenn
  7. 3. Learning Communities as Sites of Transformation, Bernie Sullivan
  8. 4. A Theoretical Explanation of the Practical Significance of Learning Communities, Bernie Sullivan
  9. 5. Professional Conversations as Integral to Self-Study Action Research for CPD, Mary Roche
  10. 6. Initial Teacher Education and School/College Partnerships: The Potential role of Self-Study Action Research, Mary Roche
  11. 7. Tapping into Experiential Knowledge in Whole-School Communities, Caitriona McDonagh
  12. 8. What's in This For Me? - From the Perspective of Participating Teachers, Teacher Educators and Leaders, Caitriona McDonagh
  13. Conclusion
  14. Bibliography
  15. Index

Author note

M?ir?n Glenn works as a teaching principal in a primary school in Co. Mayo, Ireland. She also works as a part-time tutor in the area of self-study action research with many of the teacher education programmes in Ireland.

Mary Roche is a lecturer in teacher education having spent many years as a teacher. She is author of Developing Children's Critical Thinking through Picturebooks (Routledge 2015)and has developed literacy support materials for National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (Ireland).

Caitriona McDonagh has spent many years as a primary teacher. She is a supervisor for school placement with the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, Maynooth University and supervises action research projects in Mathematics for postgrad students at the University of Limerick, Ireland.

Bernie Sullivan is a former principal of a primary school in Dublin, Ireland. She has worked as a tutor for second-level student teachers on school placement with St. Patrick's College, Thurles, Ireland. She currently supervises action research projects in Mathematics teaching for postgraduate students at the University of Limerick, Ireland.


This is the most significant contribution to the enhancement of a global professionalism in education that I have read in my 50 year's engagement with this issue. It should become required reading and study for initial and continuing teacher education programs. Mairin Glenn, Bernie Sullivan, Mary Roche and Caitriona McDonagh show how four individuals, initially strangers, studying four disparate aspects of education, have forged a strong, warm and loving friendship. Their work and research together enhances their own and others' professionalism in improving practice and contributing to the educational knowledge-base. They do this through self-study action research and the generation of living-educational-theories that are underpinned by ontological values of social justice, inclusion and democracy; epistemological values of dialogue, communication and knowledge creation; and educational values of co-operation and collaboration. The book clearly communicates how to foster a 'researcherly disposition' across all phases of education. This includes the generating and sustaining of whole-school learning communities. As well as focusing on improving educational practice and generating contributions to educational knowledge, the authors critically engage with insights from the most advanced social theories, without losing a connection to improving professionalism in practice. The authors invite readers, having reflected on their book, to reveal their passions and enthusiasms for learning together, for their own benefit and the benefit of those with whom they work. They invite us to continue this narrative by sharing our stories on . I hope to meet you in this space of learning community.
Jack Whitehead, Visiting Professor of Education, University of Cumbria, UK||This book speaks to the very heart of what it is to be a professional learner. It challenges readers to rethink how we individually and institutionally engage with our own learning, with the learning of those we teach and of all those with whom we connect throughout our educative journey. Because this book transcends the superficial and engages with communities of learners from a lived, meaningful and values based perspective, it offers not the typical prescriptive text, but one that is far more significant with real potential to open up the hearts and minds of learners and teachers across the globe. It offers an important differing voice to current trends in education that tend to eclipse the value of practitioner knowledge and experience. In so doing it gives voice to the growing movement of practitioners whose experience and insight are indispensable for meaningful education theory worldwide.
Patricia Mannix McNamara, Deputy Head, School of Education, University of Limerick, Ireland