01 SES 04 B, Models of Teacher Development
Effective professional learning programs are widely accepted as an important factor to enhance teacher quality (Kennedy, 2016). A traditional approach to professional learning is based on a model that positions teachers as passive participants in one-off workshops, frequently in an off-site location (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017; Robinson, 2009). This model has been shown to have little transference to long-term improvement in teaching practice (Kennedy, 2016; Garet et al., 2001; Timperley, 2011). Many systems around the world have introduced mandated hours of participation in professional learning programs, yet participation does not guarantee learning (Kennedy, 2016). Teachers come to professional learning with a range of learning needs and interests (Trotter, 2006), and this is frequently not considered (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017).
The main research question of this study was, what are specific factors that underpinned sustained improvement in teaching practice in response to an on-going professional learning program? In contrast to many other studies of professional learning, this research focussed on identifying the personal and social factors that can impact on a teacher professional learning program. Specifically, seven teachers ‘narratives’ were investigated as they developed over the 12 months of data collection.
This study has resulted in the development of the Iterative Model of Professional Learning (IMPL). This model represents the holistic and on-going process of teacher professional learning. Five key characteristics were identified as being the fundamental components of effective professional learning: extended time, trusting relationships, credible and relevant subject matter, the opportunity for reflection and the personalisation of learning to meet the needs of individual teachers.
In this ethnographic case study, the behaviours and attitudes of seven teachers were tracked as they progressed through an on-going, evidence based program designed to embed Principles of Dialogic Teaching (Alexander, 2008) in their teaching practice. The research was undertaken in a large, metropolitan secondary school in Melbourne, Australia. The participants in this study were a group of secondary teachers from a range of subject areas. The professional learning and research was conducted by a member of the school leadership team. Positioning Theory (van Langenhove and Harré, 1999) was used as the conceptual framework to understand any changes in teaching in response to the professional learning program. The collated narratives for each participant was closely analysed using Positioning Theory to track, interpret, understand the behaviour and attitudes of teachers over 12 months. The use of Positioning Theory as an analytical tool can provide an indication of the sense of empowerment that individuals have to change and learn. Participants implemented a series of dialogically focussed lessons. A video of each lesson was taken prior to, and at three intervals, throughout the professional learning experience. Each narrative was explored by examining three areas: the congruence between teachers' discussions of their teaching practice and video evidence from their lessons, their duty to all aspects of their role as teachers, and their individual responses to the professional learning program. These narratives were examined to identify the key characteristics from across the seven participants. It was these characteristics which formed the basis of a model for professional learning that can be broadly applied to a range of programs and educational settings.
The results from this study indicated that effective and sustained professional learning can be both complex and multi faceted. When all of the elements identified in the model (extended time, trusting relationships, credible and relevant subject matter, reflection, personalisation) are applied to a professional learning program, this can lead to an on going improvement in teacher practice. This study makes significant and useful contributions to the literature by providing refined insights and understanding for improving teacher practice through a focus on professional learning. The study offers the IMPL to better support school leaders and individuals to plan for effective and sustainable changes to teaching practice. The IMPL presented from this study was drawn from the in-depth analysis of the ‘lived experiences’ of seven secondary teachers over a 12-month time frame, offering a nuanced perspective on their process of professional learning. The IMPL seeks to specify the personal and social characteristics that come together to support a teacher to make a deliberate change in teaching practice in response to a professional learning program This model adds to the understanding of the specific characteristics that support the process of professional learning. This model of professional learning does not seek to replace other models such as those proposed by Guskey (1999) or Clarke and Hollingsworth (2002). According to Boylan et al., (2018), no model provides a complete set of tools with which to examine the complex process of professional learning. Each model offers a different perspective on the process or characteristics of effective professional learning. Having choice in the range of models can support their use as tools for particular purposes. The models can be promoted and used in a more general way to inform the design, evaluation, and research into professional learning.
Alexander, R. (2008). Towards dialogic teaching. Rethinking classroom talk. Cambridge, England: Dialogos. Boylan, M., Coldwell, M., Maxwell, B., & Jordan, J. (2018). Rethinking models of professional learning as tools: A conceptual analysis to inform research and practice. Professional Development in Education, 44(1), 120–139. Clarke, D. & Hollingsworth, H. (2002). Elaborating a model of teacher professional growth. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18(8), 947–967. Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., & Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915–945. Guskey, T. R. (1999). Apply time with wisdom. Journal of Staff Development, 20(2), 10–15. Kennedy, M. M. (2016). How does professional development improve teaching? Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 945–980 Robinson, V. M. (2009). Why do some policies not work in schools? In H. Daniels, H. Lauder, & J. Porter (Eds.), Knowledge, Values and Educational Policy: A critical perspective (pp.237). New York, NY: Routledge. Timperley, H. (2011). Realizing the power of professional learning. London, England: McGraw-Hill Education. Trotter, Y. D. (2006). Adult learning theories: Impacting professional development programs. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 72(2). van Langenhove, L., & Harré, R. (1999). Introducing positioning theory. London, England: Blackwell Publishing.
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