01 SES 05 B, Learning as Informal, Lifelong, and in Communities
Parallel Paper Session
Internationally, much has been written in recent times about the lack of success of various teacher professional development initiatives of achieving their aims of changing teachers’ practice. Critics have identified a variety of reasons for the failure of such teacher professional development activities. For example, Borko et al., (2002) argued that professional development based on centrally imposed reforms has largely neglected the professional learning needs of individual teachers. Authorities other than teachers themselves have shaped the content, provision and delivery with little or no input from teachers in the decision-making (King, 2002). Often a ‘one size fits all’ mentality has with teachers viewed as ‘objects to be in-serviced’ (Willis, 2002). In addition, professional development initiatives have often consisted of one-off practical workshops that have had little effect on teachers’ practice (Sandholtz & Scribner, 2006). Thus, the argument has gained momentum that teacher professional learning opportunities should be constructed within a collegial professional learning community (e.g. Darling-Hammond, 2003). The drive for collaborative communities is predicated on the belief that knowledge and understanding co-constructed in interaction with others has the potential to shape teacher learning in ways different from knowledge and understanding constructed individually (Kwakman, 2003). As a consequence, a strong thrust has emerged to situate teachers’ professional learning in collegial communities based in the school in which they work. Ostensibly, professional learning opportunities targeting a whole school community have more chance of challenging accepted practices in a school than professional learning activities involving individual teachers (Hill et al., 2006).
Alongside this form of professional learning, there is an increasing trend for experienced primary teachers in New Zealand to contribute to their own individual professional learning by undertaking further academic qualifications. This paper reports on the responses of 14 experienced primary teachers who had graduated from a professional education degree, and their elaboration on its effects on their professional learning.
Borko, H., Elliott, R., & Uchiyama, K. (2002). Professional development: A key to Kentucky’s educational reform effort. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18((8), 969-987. Darling-Hammond, L. (2003). Keeping good teachers: Why it matters, what leaders can do. Educational Leadership, 60 (8), 7-13. Hill, M., Robertson, J., Allan, R., Bakker, T., Connelly, D., Grimes, M., et al. (2006). Great expectations: Enhancing learning and strengthening teaching in primary schools with diverse student populations through action research. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Educational Research. King, M. B. (2002). Professional development to promote school-wide inquiry. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18 (3), 243-257. Kwakman, K. (2003). Factors affecting teachers' participation in professional learning activities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19 (2), 149-170. Sandholtz, J., & Scribner, S. (2006). The paradox of administrative control in fostering teacher professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(8), 1104-1117. Willis, S. (2002). Creating a knowledge base for teaching - A conversation with James Stigler. Educational Leadership, 59(6, March), 6-11. Ye He., Prater, K., & Steed, T. Moving beyond ‘just good teaching’: ESL professional development for allteachers. Professional Development in Education, 37(1), 7-18.
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