Disrupting Colonial Mindsets: The Power of Learning Networks

  • Catherine McGregor University of Victoria
Keywords: networked teacher learning, transformational change, socially just leadership


If changes that make a difference to Aboriginal learners are to be effected in public schools, then transformational change is required (Menzies, Archibald, & Smith, 2004). How is transformational change best achieved? In this article, I argue, based on a recently completed study (McGregor, 2013) that teacher learning—particularly among non-Aboriginal teachers—is critical to effecting transformation in how teachers think about Aboriginal learners as well as how they plan and deliver fully inclusive learning opportunities. After outlining a theoretical framework for transformation focused on networked, inquiry-based learning and culturally inclusive practices, I explore how one particular teacher-learning network—the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN) in British Columbia, Canada, offers a powerful example of how teacher learning networks can enable deep and transformational change among participating teachers and leaders. I provide exemplary stories of transformation to illustrate the power of this model to effect changes in teacher beliefs and mindsets about Aboriginal learners and culturally inclusive practices. Following this, I identify several key enabling features of the AESN, including socially just, distributed forms of leadership, relational accountability (Wilson, 2008), and affiliative, catalytic models of implementation, a focus on “new, strong and wise ways” (Halbert & Kaser, 2012, p.11) of learning, and provincial and district resources that support network learning activity. The conclusion highlights implications of this study for school jurisdictions and policy makers.

     Keywords: networked teacher learning; transformational change; socially just leadership

Author Biography

Catherine McGregor, University of Victoria
Associate Professor, Leadership Studies