01 SES 04 C, Systemic Professional Engagement and On-line Approaches
Amid societal, demographic, and educational changes, teachers are supposed to be adaptive professionals (Darling-Hammond, 2006) able to innovate and develop teaching practices both individually and collaboratively across disciplines and in various contexts ahead of time as a response to changing contexts and needs. Thus, schools are expected to be collaborative learning environments that highly reflect the various needs of the surrounding culture, society, and families, including those who often are uninvolved or excluded, and thus promote the development, academic success, and wellbeing of all schoolchildren. Additionally, teachers are expected to engage in lifelong learning to develop their professional expertise throughout their career (e.g., Avalos, 2011).
Although Finnish teachers are enjoying high levels of autonomy in a culture of trust, regarding their performance Finland is among those 4 EU countries, where teachers reported very poor participation in continuous professional development (OECD, 2013). The traditional in-service teachers’ education, which includes expert lectures and one-day seminars, seems to fail to bring about professional development due to the fragmentary information, vague links with pedagogical practices, and passive role of teachers as mere recipients of information (see also Haymore-Sandholtz, 2002; Tarnanen, 2018). Thus, to promote teachers’ professional learning it is essential to study and understand about the complexity of professional development in terms of emotional and cognitive involvement, both individually and collectively; facing and challenging beliefs; and raising awareness of policy environments and school cultures, including resources in changing them (e.g., Guskey, 2002; Avalos, 2011), and how this can be supported throughout their career (e.g., Taajamo et al., 2014). We need deeper understanding how an intellectual, collaborative, and learning teacher community is created (e.g., Senge et al., 2012), where an individual teacher experiences strong collective commitment (e.g., Ware & Kitsanta, 2007).
This paper is a part of a larger project called Promoting Creative Expertise – Bridging Pre-service and In-service Teacher Education (PCE) funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture 2017-2020 that is a joint project between 4 Finnish Universities. The project is a part of the national Finnish Teacher Education Forum, which has prepared a Development Programme for Teachers’ Pre- and In-service Education (lifelong professional development) and supports the implementation of the program as a part of the national reform program. The aim of the project is to explore how to support the development of professional learning and enhance the agency of and collaboration between teachers, teacher educators, and teacher students. The aim is also to build a new operational culture within the co-operating schools. The project is built upon collaboration between university staff, teacher students, school leaders, teachers, school students, and education providers to promote lifelong learning, the creation of the hybrid learning environments, and the use of expertise across disciplines. The project employs systems thinking, peer learning, and a research-based approach (e.g., Zmuda, Kuklis & Kline, 2004; Senge et al., 2014).
In our research, we approach teachers’ and schools’ development with the following two research questions:
RQ1: What features do teachers consider essential in their professional development and in developing learning school community?
RQ2: What kind of tensions do characterize building of learning school community?
The data includes teacher interviews (n=41) and documented process data of the development work, e.g. vision work and Face-Work (Goffman, 1955, 1982) in one particular comprehensive school (grades 1-9). The interviews were carried out as semi-structured qualitative interviews using an interview guideline with about 35-40 questions divided into four themes: (1) professional development and learning, (2) collaboration, (3), school as a work community and (4) classroom related work. Questions were framed as open as possible and they were discussed along with the progression of the conversation and the additional questions were asked as well. The interview and process data were analysed using qualitative data-driven but theory informed (Senge et al., 2012 ) content analysis (Bernard & Ryan, 2010; DeCuir-Gunby, Marshall & McCulloch, 2011). In connection with RQ1: The data was coded according to features that were referred to as possibilities and/or obstacles to the professional development and development of school community in a learning direction. In connection with RQ2: The data was coded according to defensive, supportive and neutral projections concerning teachers’ personal professional development and school development. After categorizing the data into these three dimensions the qualitatively different ways of experiencing the phenomena either positively, negatively or neutrally were the more detailed units (e.g. sentence or phrase) of analysis (see Marton, 1994). As a consequence of this finding, the thematic tensions between experiences and expressions were studied in the second phase of analysis. Analysis revealed in total ten thematic tensions.
Teachers seem to experience various obstacles around individual work that justify the existence of current practices and argue why change is difficult, even impossible. Yet there are features that teachers consider vital both to their own professional learning and school community learning. Our research findings show how teachers consider the conversation culture in the current teaching community and what kind of personal wishes, expectations and fears they have related to the future school. Their talk also reflected lack of team work and limited orientation on professional self-development. Further, the analysis revealed several tensions relating to professional development and school development, e.g., individual – collective professional identity, developing – preserving orientation, agency – stability. It is possible to challenge work-related beliefs and support the development of new culture through continuing in-service teacher training based on a systemic approach. This requires time and changes in the school structures and staff’s ways of thinking. The previous studies support our findings that highlight the importance of colleagues from the same school community. This finding also addresses contextual factors that may limit the impact of traditional professional development approaches. The findings of the study can be applied when developing practices to support the engagement in conversation, observation, collaboration, and reflection – elements which have been identified as necessary for effective changes to professional practice. The purpose of these practices is also to enable teachers’ individual and collaborative reflection on their experience of implementing new initiatives to enhance constant professional learning (e.g., Senge et al., 2012; Van Driel & Berry, 2012; Girvan, Conneely & Tangney, 2016). Understanding about the systemic nature of the teaching communities and complexity of professional development are essential in developing teacher education in a sustainable way.
Avalos, B. (2011) Teacher Professional Development in Teaching and Teacher Education over Ten Years. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 10-20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2010.08.007 Bernard, H. R., & Ryan, G. W. (2010). Analyzing qualitative data: Systematic approaches. Los Angeles, Calif.: SAGE. Darling-Hammond, L. 2006. Powerful teacher education. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley. DeCuir-Gunby, J. T., Marshall, P. L., & McCulloch, A. W. (2011). Developing and using a codebook for the analysis of interview data: An example from a professional development research project. Field Methods, 23(2), 136-155. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1525822X10388468 Girvan, C., Conneely, C., & Tangney, B. (2016). Extending experiential learning in teacher professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 58, 129-139. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2016.04.009 Goffman, E. (1955). On Face-Work: An analysis of ritual elements in social interaction. Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes, 18(3), 213-231. Goffman, E. (1982). Interaction ritual: essays on face-to-face behavior. New York: Pantheon Books. Guskey, T. R. (2002). Does It Make a Difference? Evaluating Professional Development. Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology Faculty Publications. 7. https://uknowledge.uky.edu/edp_facpub/7 Haymore-Sandholtz, J. (2002). Inservice training or professional development: contrasting opportunities in a school/university partnership. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 815-830. Marton, F. (1994) Phenomenography. In T. Husén, & T. N. Postlethwaite (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of education, 8, (pp 4424-4429). Oxford: Pergamon. OECD (2013). Talis 2013 Results: An international perspective on teaching and learning. Paris: OECD: 2014. Available from: http://www.oecdilibrary. org/education/talis-2013-results_9789264196261-en Taajamo, M., Puhakka, E., & Välijärvi, J. (2014). Opetuksen ja oppimisen kansainvälinen tutkimus TALIS 2013: Yläkoulun ensituloksia. Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö. Tarnanen, M. (2018). Working together to develop teacher education as a continuum. Discussion paper. Reimaging Teacher Education Symposium. University of Hong Kong. Senge, P. M., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J., & Kleiner, A. (2012). Schools that learn: A fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education. New York: Crown Business. Senge, P. M. (2014). The fifth discipline fieldbook: Strategies and tools for building a learning organization. New York: Crown Business. Van Driel, J. H., & Berry, A. (2012). Teacher Professional Development Focusing on Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Educational Researcher, 41(1), 26-28. Ware, H., & Kitsantas, A. (2007). Teacher and Collective Efficacy Beliefs as Predictors of Professional Commitment. The Journal of Educational Research, 100(5), 303-310. https://doi.org/10.3200/JOER.100.5.303-310 Zmuda, A., Kuklis, R., & Kline, E. (2004). Transforming Schools: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
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