ERG SES D 08, Poster Session
In contemporary school education, we must nurture teachers who can deal with problems and difficulties underlying society’s radical progress in areas such as globalization, the information society, ageing population and declining birth rate. To acquire and update extensive professional knowledge and skills, teachers need to learn actively. In particular, to foster expertise in subjects and pedagogical skills suitable for the current age, it is important to develop teacher education both theoretically and practically (Central Council for Education, 2012). Young teachers, whose numbers are increasing in recent years, as well as middle-aged teachers are to become the core of school organization from the early stage of their teaching career. This means that, in the early stage of their career, they are expected to be provided with training in leadership and management skills to systematically develop problem-solving techniques in teamwork (ibid, 2011).
Japan has a long history of lesson study, fulfilling a certain role for the development of teacher’s professional expertise (Sato, 1997). Considering their full commitment to school life as teachers, however, frequency and schedule to organize study groups on lesson study are limited. Therefore, establishing a further opportunity to nurture their pedagogical ability is extremely difficult. To solve this problem, teacher education is expected to be implemented daily; in other words, it must take place not “outside” but “inside” the school management system.
In previous studies on teacher education in the field of school management, ‘Professional Learning Community’ is considered to not only promote and maintain learning in groups but also contribute to reformation of the school itself (Louise et al. 1995; Bolam et al. 2005; Louise & Stoll, 2007). In particular, Hord’s ‘Professional Learning Community’ is significant for this study on school management because of her emphasis on practicality. She has clarified procedures and results for school management by conceptualizing all dimensions of the Professional Learning Community through a wide-ranging literature review in education studies and company management, with several case studies including the John Dibert Elementary School (Oda, 2011).
Although a number of such theoretical studies demonstrate that a teachers’ community promotes their learning, few case studies in Japan have verified this. Thus, the development of an analytical methodology is considered as a further issue (Sakamoto, 2007). Additionally, establishing a method to record and analyze the daily interactions between teachers is crucial (ibid).
Therefore, this case study investigated Hojo Primary School in Tateyama City, Chiba Prefecture, to contribute to the development of analytical methodology. The study focuses particularly on Gakunen-kai or grade-level staff meetings that fulfil an important role in nurturing teachers’ competence. Hojo Primary School became prominent because of its core curriculum research after the World War II and has continued development including the Hojo Plan, open-space learning, integrated learning and the establishment of a curriculum control sector—all well fitted to the needs of the contemporary education system (Nojima, 2012). Gakunen-kai meetings are held once a week throughout the year to support such innovations and improve daily teaching practices.
This study considers Hojo Primary School to be an exemplar that succeeds in conducting both improving teaching practices and teacher education on the basis of the theory of the Professional Learning Community. The school empirically aims to demonstrate its Gakunen-kai as a case for analysis.
Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Stoll, L., Thomas, S., Wallace, M., Greenwood, A., Hawkey, K., Ingram, M., Arkinson, A. and Smith, M. (2005) “Creating and Sustaining Effective Professional Learning Communities.” DFES Research Report RR637. University of Bristol. http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/5622/1/RR637.pdf ,accessed 25 January 2015. Hipp, K. and Huffman, J. (.eds) (2010) “Demystifying Professional Learning Communities: School Leadership at Its Best,” Rowman & Littlefield Education. Hord, S. and Hirsh, S., (2008) “Making the Promise a Reality”, in Blankstein, A., Houston, P. & Cole, R., (eds.), Sustaining Professional Learning Communities, Corwin Press, 2008, pp.23-40. Hord, S. and Sommers, W. (2008) “Learning Professional Learning Communities, Voices from Research and Practice,” Corwin Press. Louis, K. S., Kruse, S.D. & Associates (1995) “Professionalism and Community: Perspectives on Reforming Urban Schools.” Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Nojima, E. (2012) “A School System to Enhance Students' and Teachers' Growth: Case study about Houjou Elementary School” Research Report of JET Conferences 4, pp. 25-32. Oda, Y. (2011) “A Study of Schools as Learning Organization: Shirley M.Hord on Professional Learning Community” Bulletin of the faculty of education Mie University, 62, pp. 211-228. Sakamoto, A. (2007) “How Do In-Service Teachers Learn From Their Teaching Experiences?” Japanese Journal of Educational Psychology, 55(4), pp. 584-596 Sato, M. (1997) “Aporia of Teacher” Seori-Shobo. Stoll, L., and Louis, K. S. (2007) “Professional learning communities: Elaborating new approaches”, in L. Stoll & K. S. Louis (Eds.), “Professional learning communities: Divergence, depth and dilemmas” (pp.1-13) Berkshire, UK: Open University Press.
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