01 SES 05 C, Learning about Teacher Learning
Parallel Paper Session
Researchers internationally point to a gap in knowledge base for teacher development for acting as agents of change (Hargreaves & Fullan, 1992) while policies in many countries suggest that a number of educational changes are to be engineered through teachers, through their professional development and re-education. Many of the on-going reforms imply that teachers are no longer charged only with operating scientifically grounded pedagogies, but also with changing the conditions that affect their teaching (Liston & Zeichner, 1990). For example, with the educational reforms in Serbia teachers whose preparation and development traditionally focused around subject matter and pedagogical knowledge, are now expected to participate in school development planning and evaluation, to cooperate with the stakeholders from health and social institutions, to adapt curricula considering students they teach, and so on. Exploring teachers’ own perceptions of what constitutes their competence Pantić et al. (2011) found that teachers perceive the aspects of competence related to the "understanding of the education system and its development" as significantly less important than those related to other aspects of their competence including "self-evaluation and professional development", "knowledge about the subject matter, pedagogy and curriculum" or those related to "values and child development". Competences in relation to "understanding of the education system and its development" include teachers’ understanding of a wider context in which they work, insights into the education system and willingness to be involved in its development beyond their subject areas and classroom walls, and other aspects of teacher competence identified as relevant for teachers’ change acting as change agents (Pantić and Wubbels, 2010).
Research in the area of teachers’ roles as change agents is often normative, while evidence is scarce about how precisely teachers’ capacities to cope with and take forward change manifest in their practices and how these capacities can be fostered in teacher development. While teacher development for enacting change would be essential in education reform contexts (Fullan 1993a; 1993b), it would also be premature without a clearly conceptualised broader knowledge base and an understanding of a range of factors that affect development of teachers’ capacity for enacting change. The goal of the present study is to contribute to an understanding of the kind of knowledge that could shape teachers’ perceptions towards greater acceptance of their roles as change agents, as well as of the contextual factors that can contribute to their development in this regard. The study, thus, addresses the following research questions: (1) do teachers spontaneously perceive "new" duties and powers that are given to them as embedded in their everyday work? What is their understanding of these new roles? and (2) which competences for "understanding of the education system and its development" teachers spontaneously perceive as important for their daily practice? What are potential factors that foster or preclude such perceptions?
Fullan, M. (1993a). Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform. London: Falmer. Fullan, M. G. (1993b). Why Teachers Must Become Change Agents. Educational Leadership, 50(6), 12-17. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. G. (1992). Understanding Teacher Development. New York: Cassell. Liston, D. P., & Zeichner, K. M. (1990). Reflective teaching and action research in preservice teacher education. Journal of Education for Teaching, 16(3), 235-254. Merriam, S. B. (1998) Qualitative research and case study applications in education (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass) Pantić, N. & Wubbels, T. (2010). Teacher Competences as a Basis for Teacher Education - Views of Serbian Teachers and Teacher Educators, Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 694–703. Pantić, N.; Wubbels, T. I Mainhard, T. (2011). Teacher Competence as a Basis for Teacher Education: Comparing Views of Teachers and Teacher Educators in Five Western Balkan Countries, Comparative Education Review, Vol. 55, No. 2 (May 2011), pp. 165-188.
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