Convergent, divergent and parallel dialogues: Knowledge construction in professional conversations

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    Situated in the context of a one year in-service professional development program for mentors in Israel, this study explored the process and content of mentors' professional conversations as opportunities for collaboratively constructing knowledge about mentoring. The analysis of the monthly conversations, conducted throughout an entire academic year, followed recurrent cycles of close interpretative readings to identify issues of process, content, and learning throughout the conversations. The analysis of the process of the conversations yielded the identification of three different forms of dialogues that operated complementarily in the conversations: 'Convergent dialogues', 'parallel dialogues' and 'divergent dialogues'. Analysis of the content of the conversations revealed that each of these dialogues constituted unique opportunities for participants to co-construct meanings about a different dimension of the practice of mentoring. In 'convergent dialogues' participants mediated understandings that converged into learning about possible solutions to a particular dilemma in mentoring. 'Divergent dialogues' featured participants' use of the conversation space to depart from their personal contexts of mentoring in order to explore, compare and make connections across practices. In these dialogues participants shifted the focus of the conversation to issues outside their particular contexts, engaging in a kind of theorizing about mentoring. In 'parallel dialogues', participants used the conversation space as a setting for developing their own ideas in a kind of 'dialogue with themselves'. These dialogues provided important opportunities for participants to discriminate and dispute their own ideologies and fixed assumptions. The study suggests that the value of professional support frameworks designed around a conversation component lies both in its potential for creating different and varied kinds of dialogues, as well as in the active role that the facilitator or 'mentor of mentors' plays in identifying the different dialogic possibilities in professional conversations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-31
    Number of pages19
    JournalTeachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2006


    • Mentoring
    • Professional conversation
    • Teacher learning

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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