31 SES 12 A, Professional Development for Teachers in Multilingual Classrooms: International Perspectives
Research illustrates the value of creating learning opportunities for teachers that are designed around teacher collaboration (e.g. Martin-Beltran & Peercy, 2014). Research also shows that teacher agency is a critical factor in translating successful professional development into classroom practice (Opfer & Pedder, 2011; Riveros, Newton, & Burgess, 2012). However, teacher agency is generally understudied and undertheorised (Biesta, Priestley & Robinson, 2015; Priestley, Biesta & Robinson 2015; Riveros, Newton, & Burgess, 2012) and as such may not be sufficiently understood to impact teacher learning practices. Additionally, teachers are not usually afforded leadership over and within the learning programs designed for them. Therefore, this study examines teacher collaboration, leadership, and agency further in a U.S. professional learning program with already documented popularity and strong learning outcomes among the teacher participants (Viesca, Dray, & Leech, 2017). Specifically, we seek to understand teacher perceptions of agency, leadership and collaboration in their professional learning by asking: • What aspects of teacher agency, leadership and collaboration do teachers identify as impactful to their learning? • What relationships do teachers’ perceptions of agency, leadership and collaboration in professional learning have with one another? Growing from our commitments to inquiry-based professional learning (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009) and culturally and linguistically sustaining approaches (Lucas & Villegas, 2011; Paris, 2012), we designed online professional learning opportunities for teachers centered around the principles of teacher agency, leadership, and collaboration. We conducted interviews with 22 in-service teachers who had participated in one or more of our professional learning opportunities for teachers of multilingual students. In the interviews teachers were asked to share their perspectives regarding agency, leadership and collaboration in professional learning. We analysed the interviews using an iterative collaborative analysis approach. Teachers had varying perspectives and definitions of agency, leadership and collaboration, however, they also consistently expressed the ways the three were intertwined and played an important role in teacher learning. Specifically, even while expressing varied understandings of the concepts, teachers suggested the value of being able to exert agency of their own learning, engage in leadership roles and practices within professional learning opportunities as well as work in meaningful collaboration with their peers. Together these elements of teacher professional learning appear to be most powerful, though also individually impactful as well. Teachers also reported how rare these elements are, particularly in combination, in professional learning opportunities.
Cochran-Smith, M. & Lytle, S. L. (2009). Inquiry as stance: Practitioner research for the next generation. Teachers College Press. Lucas, T., & Villegas, A. M. (2011). A framework for preparing linguistically responsive teachers. In T. Lucas (Ed.), Teacher preparation for linguistically diverse classrooms: A resource for teacher educators (pp. 55-72). New York, NY: Routledge. Martin-Beltran, M., & Peercy, M. M. (2014). Collaboration to teach English language learners: Opportunities for shared teacher learning. Teachers and Teaching, 20(6), 721–737. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2014.885704 Opfer, V. & Pedder, D. (2011). Conceptualizing teacher professional learning. Review of Educational Research, 81(3), 376-407. Paris, D. (2012). Culturally sustaining pedagogy: A needed change in stance, terminology, and practice. Educational Researcher, 41(3), 93-97. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X12441244 Riveros, A., Newton, P., & Burgess, D. (2012). A Situated Account of Teacher Agency and Learning: Critical Reflections on Professional Learning Communities. Canadian journal of education, 35(1), 202-216. Viesca, K.M., Dray, B., & Leech, N. (2017, April). Developing linguistically responsive content teachers through eWorkshops: Results from the learning activities survey. Paper presented at the American Educational Researchers Association annual meeting.
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