01 SES 03 A, Teacher Professional Learning and Development in 11 European Countries (Part II)
Symposium Part II, continued from 01 SES 02 A (Part I), to be continued in 01 SES 06 A (Part III)
Teachers’ professional learning and development (PLD) is important to improve the quality of education (Darling-Hammond, Chung Wei, Alethea, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009). The literature on teachers’ PLD presents various concepts, each with their own definitions and accents (Borko, 2004). In Flanders - and similar to other European countries - the concept of professional development initiatives (PDI) (Merchie, Tuytens, Devos, & Vanderlinde, 2018), refers to “processes and activities explicitly designed for teachers with a focus on enhancing their own and their students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (based on Guskey, 2000). Teachers’ professional learning and development can be regarded as a lifelong process (Merchie et al., 2018). Research (Meirink et al., 2010) has shown the importance of teachers frequently sharing practices in their team through exchanging ideas about curriculum or students and through discussing experiments in their classroom. Despite the best efforts of many principals to promote such collegial cultures, the TALIS study (OECD, 2019) shows that Flemish teachers still work in isolation from their colleagues for most of the time. In this respect, professional learning communities (PLCs) are considered as promising to overcome teachers working in isolation (Stoll, Bolam, McMahon, Wallace, & Thomas, 2006). A PLC is defined as a group of teachers who share and question their teaching practice critically in an ongoing, reflective, collaborative and inclusive way and in which professional growth as well as an orientation on learning is taken into account (Stoll et al., 2006). This study focuses on the potential of departmental PLCs for teachers’ PLDs in Flanders (Valckx, Vanderlinde & Devos, 2019). In so doing, profound knowledge of the characteristics and outcomes of PLC’s is first needed. The results of a mixed-method study show that Flemish teachers (n=324; in 80 departments of 33 Flemish secondary schools) learn new ideas, insights and instructional strategies in their departmental PLC. Furthermore, teachers in effective departmental PLCs report a profound and subject-related PLD. They experience a high level of collective responsibility towards students’ learning in their subject. Finally, in effective departemental PLCs, a process of collective professional development takes place; teachers participate in PDI’s together, motivate each other to enhance their expertise and develop a shared teaching practice. To conclude, notwithstanding the benefits of PLC’s, they are not a panacea in achieving teachers’ PLD.
Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3-15. Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R. C., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. National Staff Development Council and the School Redesign Network at Stanford University. Retrieved from http://www.learningforward.org/docs/pdf/nsdcstudy2009.pdf Guskey, T. R. (2000). Evaluating professional development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Meirink, J. A., Imants, J., Meijer, P. C., & Verloop, N. (2010). Teacher learning and collaboration in innovative teams. Cambridge Journal of Education, 40(2), 161-181. Merchie, E., Tuytens, M., Devos, G., & Vanderlinde, R. (2018). Evaluating teachers’ professional development initiatives: towards an extended evaluative framework. Research Papers in Education, 33(2), 143-168. OECD. (2019). TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and school leaders as lifelong learners. Paris: TALIS, OECD Publishing. Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Wallace, M., & Thomas, S. (2006). Professional learning communities: A review of the literature. Journal of educational change, 7(4), 221-258. Valckx, J., Vanderlinde, R., & Devos, G. (2019). Departmental PLCs in secondary schools: the importance of transformational leadership, teacher autonomy, and teachers’ self-efficacy. Educational Studies, 1-20.
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