Leaning Into Difficult Topics: Inquiry Communities as Teacher Professional Learning for Turbulent Times

Logan Rutten, Danielle Butville, Boaz Dvir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although teachers make frequent decisions about whether and how to address difficult topics, they typically do so with minimal support. This article reports a case study of an inquiry community of 20 educators who engaged in practitioner inquiry as professional learning for addressing the difficult topics that they teach within their curricula or otherwise encounter within their professional practices. Through an inductive thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with 12 community participants, the article’s authors identified four themes characterizing how the inquiry community supported teachers to lean into the difficult topics they believed they needed to address. The community helped teachers define difficult-topics inquiry while connecting them across divergent political and professional perspectives. The community assisted teachers in engaging difficult topics through purposefully structured inquiry talk, and it prompted them to (re)conceptualize difficult-topics teaching as inquiry. The article demonstrates the potential of difficult-topics inquiry communities as professional learning for turbulent times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-304
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Teacher Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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