ERG SES H 14, Teachers and Education
In South Korea, the new national physical education (PE) curriculum that was developed in 2011 explicitly requires secondary school PE teachers to devise and teach ‘creativity’ and ‘character’ through their PE classes (Ministry of Education, 2011). This dramatic change in national curriculum means that additional continuing professional development (CPD) is needed in order to support PE teachers. As has already been widely reported, however, there are concerns about the effectiveness of many forms of PE-CPD (Park, 2006).
The success of education reform hinges on the professional quality of teachers and the nature and effectiveness of their professional learning (Villegas-Reimers, 2003). It has been argued that some forms of CPD are ineffective in supporting teachers’ learning (Borko, 2004; Guskey, 2002). The concept of teacher learning communities, however, has emerged as an alternative to the traditional CPD approaches and it is argued that this can be more effective because it offers supportive and collaborative learning opportunities (Lieberman & Miller, 2011; van Es, 2012). Communities of practice (CoP) as proposed by Wenger (1998) is an example of a theoretical framework that can be used to map, analyse, and understand how learning is undertaken in teacher learning communities. In this framework, learning is not regarded as the acquisition of external resources or knowledge; instead, it is a process of participation in communities which are situated (Lave & Wenger, 1991).
Findings from research on CPD in the field of PE largely mirror those in the wider education community. It has been argued, for example, that traditional PE-CPD programs are unlikely to be effective in supporting PE teachers’ learning (Armour, 2010; Armour & Makopoulou, 2012; Armour & Yelling, 2004). In addition, some empirical research on PE teacher learning communities has been conducted and has found that school-based PE teacher learning communities have the potential to change teachers’ practices (Duncombe & Armour, 2004; Goodyear & Casey, 2013; Keay, 2006).
To date, very little research on school-based PE teacher learning communities has examined the link between teacher learning and subsequent impact on pupils’ learning (Duncombe & Armour, 2004; Goodyear & Casey, 2013; Keay, 2006). Although it is recognized that it is challenging to make direct links between teachers’ professional development and pupils’ learning outcomes (Wayne, Yoon, Zhu, Cronen, & Garet, 2008), this is essential component of effective CPD (Guskey, 2002). In addition, there is considerable data on the barriers to professional learning in a school context; for example, lack of support from department or school administrators (Duncombe & Armour, 2004), and the importance of a supportive culture in the work place (Keay, 2006).
The research reported in this paper focused on a PE teacher learning community that was created in 2003 in South Korea. This CoP brings teachers together from different schools, and focuses on developing and sharing PE teaching skills. The CoP shares the ‘X’ teaching model that focuses on whole-person education through PE classes, and teachers meet regularly in order to refine the X teaching model and further develop their pedagogies and practice. The aim of this project was threefold: to examine i) what kinds of professional learning were supported in the community, ii) how members learnt and developed their pedagogies and practices, and iii) how participation in the community influenced teachers’ learning in ways that impacts on pupils.
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