Empathy is a form of perception in which individuals access the perspectives of others about the world in order to build knowledge about it. It is also a source of self-knowledge because, as a consequence of learning how others see us, we can regulate and refine how we see ourselves (Ferran, 2015). Empathy is, therefore, an important capacity through which social cohesion is created. The aim of this paper is to consider the role of professional empathy between teachers when they engage in collective professional development activities, recognising that fear of the critical gaze and the potential for shame can inhibit participation. In order to do this, phenomenological ideas in relation to the formation of social bonds (Husserl, 2006) and empathy (Stein,1989) are explored. Ideas of professional visibility as a form of vulnerability are also examined. This paper explores the importance of professional empathy then posits the need for it to promote effective collective teacher development. A framework for enabling a culture of professional empathy in support of teacher professional growth is offered that highlights the need for three simultaneous forms of engagement; the collective, the interpersonal and the individual.
- professional learning
- teacher development