Exchanging knowledge and building communities via international networking

M James Underwood

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


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 experiences of teachers from the Balkans working with colleagues in the UK. 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. However, 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. This may reflect a self-perception as skilled professionals and societal leaders. They may also have valid reasons for participation in terms of their own professional growth. The data for this paper was drawn from interviews with three 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 derived from a concept framework, which is presented in the first half. These encompass a discussion of the extent to which these teachers share a common professional identity; whether this therefore constitutes a professional community and whether involvement in networking projects was significant in shaping their professional identity in other ways. Also discussed are issues and challenges related to the exchange of knowledge between teachers working in different cultural and economic contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Asian Conference on Education & International Development 2016 Official Conference Proceedings
Place of PublicationKobe, Japan
PublisherInternational Academic Forum
Number of pages536
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jun 2016


  • Knowledge sharing
  • comparative education
  • education research
  • professional communities


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