01 SES 15 B, Beyond the Classroom: Veterans, Adults and Workplace Learning
Portugal’s teaching staff has aged in a particularly fast pace in the past 10 years. According to the OECD (2019a), Portugal is the 4th country of OECD with the highest average age of teachers. This figure is higher than the average age of Portuguese citizens. Such an increase has been partially explained by the decrease in the ratio of new students, political process of school consolidations into school clusters, increase in the retirement age and limited recruitment of new teachers (OECD, 2019b; Alves, & Lopes, 2016). The consequences of this for the profession are associated with an increasing generational gap between students and teachers, as well as deteriorated working conditions, such as increase in workload and decrease in career progression. The ageing of teaching staff together with such working conditions has also contributed to increased feelings of ineffectiveness of curricular work (OECD (2019a) and professional disenchantment (Alves, & Lopes, 2016).
At the same time, since the school year of 2017/18, a curricular reform is taking place to promote curriculum flexibility and autonomy in Portuguese schools (Mouraz, & Cosme, 2021), which has made the relationship between teacher agency (Priestley, Biesta, & Robinson, 2014) and curriculum innovation more pressing. When working with teachers to promote curriculum innovation, one cannot view teacher agency solely as an individual capacity, but rather as an “outcome of the complex interaction of a range of different individual, social, cultural and material factors” (Priestley, Biesta, & Robinson, 2014, p. 203). As such, working with teachers to promote curriculum innovation cannot be limited in engaging them with the reform guidelines, but includes working with them in addressing expectations, values and beliefs related to educational purposes and relationships. Now, though designed and implemented with a sound strategic approach and widespread participation and agreement, this ambitious curriculum reform has posed many challenges amongst schools and teachers, from which the challenge of changing educational beliefs and classroom teaching and assessment practices have been highlighted (Mouraz & Cosme, 2021) especially when taking into account its aged teaching staff. Moreover, the relationships between school innovation and ICT are becoming evident more than ever. It is not surprising, then, when veteran teachers (Carrillo, & Flores, 2018; Orlando, 2014; Veldman et al., 2016) are immediately associated with greater difficulties and resistances in accessing and using ICT in education, a situation which makes the development of the curriculum innovation this reform calls upon more challenging. This background supports the question underlying this paper presentation proposal: how can ICT use in education be a driver of veteran teachers’ agency towards curriculum innovation?
This paper results from the development of a research project entitled Rekindle+50 – Digital migrations and curricular innovation: giving new meaning to experience and rekindle teaching profession after 50. It is a 31-month funded project, involving two universities in Portugal, with focus on supporting teachers with 50 years old or more in the development of strategies for curricular innovation through the use of digital technologies. The project organized two editions of a credited 50 hours training course (January to July 2019) for in-service teachers about learning with mobile devices and innovative learning scenarios (eg. Lencastre, Morgado, Freires, & Bento, 2020).The teachers who participated in the course produced expectations and experiences reports in Padlet online notice boards and reflections about their experiences in the training course. Nine teachers were observed in their classroom practices by the research team members. Moreover, 16 teachers participated in three focus group discussions where they were asked about (i) the perceived effects of the training course, including changes in concepts, practices, fears and myths related to the use of ICT in the classroom; (ii) the sustainability of pedagogical practices initiated by the training; and, finally, (iii) personal, collective and institutional motivations and strategies for professional reenchantment and resilience. All the collected data is now being subjected to a content analysis in order to determine motivations and drivers of veteran teachers for curriculum innovation, as well as perceived preconceptions risks and obstacles for teacher agency in curriculum innovation.
In this paper presentation, we aim to present the preliminary results of the project, which will be organized in two main axes: 1. To identify changes in teachers' beliefs regarding fears and risks related to the use of ICT in innovative teaching practices. Concerning these changes we invalidated the myth that veteran teachers are more info-excluded than their younger colleagues or their students (Dotta, Monteiro, & Mouraz, 2019). The risks and fears they pose have more to do with the lack of training, of knowledge or of school contextual conditions to effectively develop some of the pedagogies defended in the curriculum reform. We are now deepening our analysis to determine how overcoming those fears relate to the engagement of teachers in curriculum innovation through the use of ICT. Preliminary finding suggest that the teachers’ commitment with the curriculum innovation, namely using ICT and changed pedagogies, becomes more evident when they see progresses in their students in terms of competences such as autonomy, communication, problem solving, creative and critical thinking. 2. The second dimension was to map strategies, personal and group, of professional (re)enchantment and resilience. Concerning these issues, it was possible to validate the importance of collaborative work among peers who rediscover themselves as a factor of resilience, perhaps (re)enchantment. Support coming from school top and middle leaders, as well as pedagogical and technical support to the introduction of innovations in professional practices are also crucial drivers. We found that veteran teachers who master the most proficient technologies, take more risks in the use of digital technologies that are new to them, assume this lack of knowledge with students and let students experience these (or other) technologies. Implications for teachers’ agency towards curriculum innovation will be further developed.
Alves, K., & Lopes, A. (2016). Professores e o envelhecimento: realidades e especificidades no contexto português [Teachers and aging: realities and specificities in a portuguese contexto]. Trabalho & Educação, 25(2), 61-77. Carrillo, C., & Flores, M. A. (2018). Veteran teachers’ identity: what does the research literature tell us? Cambridge Journal of Education, 48 (5), 639-656. Dotta, Leanete, Monteiro, Angelica, & Mouraz, Ana (2019). Professores experientes e o uso das tecnologias digitais: Mitos, crenças e práticas [Experienced teachers and the use of digital technologies: myths, beliefs and practices]. Eduser: Revista de Educação, 11(1), 45-60. Lencastre, J. A., Morgado, J. C., Freires, T. & Bento, M. (2020). A Systematic Review on the Flipped Classroom Model as a Promoter of Curriculum Innovation. International Journal of Instruction.13 (4). Mouraz, A. & Cosme, A. (2021).The on-going curriculum Reform in Portugal - highlighting trends and gaps. in M. Priestley, D. Alvunger, S. Philippou & T. Soini (Orgs.) Curriculum making in Europe: policy and practice within and across contexts. West Yorkshire, England: Emerald Group publishing. OECD (2016), Innovating Education and Educating for Innovation: The Power of Digital Technologies and Skills, OECD Publishing, Paris OECD (2019a). TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners. TALIS, OECD Publishing: Paris. OECD (2019b). Country note. Portugal. Education at a Glance 2019. OECD Publishing: Paris. Orlando, Joanne (2014). Veteran teachers and technology: change fatigue and knowledge insecurity influence practice. Teachers and Teaching, 20(4), 427-439. DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2014.881644 Priestley, M. Biesta, G. & Robinson, S. (2014). Teachers as agents of change: teacher agency and emerging models of curriculum. In M. Priestley & G.Biesta (org) Reinventing curriculum: New trends in Curriculum policy and practice.(187-206). London: Bloomsbury. Veldman, Ietje , Admiraal, Wilfried, Tartwijk, Jan van, Mainhard, Tim, & Wubbels, Theo (2016). Veteran teachers’ job satisfaction as a function of personal demands and resources in the relationships with their students. Teachers and Teaching, 22(8), 913-926. DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2016.1200546
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