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The informal learning of new teachers in school

McNally, Jim and Blake, Allan and Reid, Ashley (2009) The informal learning of new teachers in school. Journal of Workplace Learning, 21 (4). pp. 322-333. ISSN 1366-5626

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to present what the study of the experiences of beginning teachers and their informal learning says about the process of learning to teach, and to discuss the main emerging themes in relation to a wider literature. The design of the paper is essentially ethnographic and building of grounded theory, based on an accumulation of data derived from interviews with beginning teachers and connecting to extant theory. The findings are that a focus on the informal learning of beginners in teaching leads to the notion of learning as becoming that is predominantly emotional and relational in nature with the emergence of teacher identity. The research is limited in its exploration of the cognitive dimension of professional learning, a dimension which may be elicited using a more tightly focused and structured method. The implications are that learning to teach is not determined by a professional standard and that a revised standard would need to take account of these findings. The value of the paper lies in the pursuit of informal learning as a research area in teaching to reveal a greater complexity of learning in that specific professional context; and showing how the understanding of learning to teach can be enriched through a wider appreciation of the school as workplace, workplace learning and connections to a wider philosophical literature.