Teachers as leaders in science - building personal capacity to shape and personalise professional learning

2017-03-01T01:35:59Z (GMT) by Smith, Kathleen Veronica
This research reports on findings from an in-service teacher professional learning (PL) program that created ‘conditions for learning’ which placed self-improvement directly in the hands of teachers themselves. The objectives of the study were to: identify and describe the operational program features and learning experiences that supported and enabled teachers to work as self- directed learners; actively determine participants’ personal learning needs; and, develop their professional knowledge of practice. To address these objectives the study ‘opened up’ for scrutiny a number of ‘traditional’ assumptions about teacher Professional Development (PD), in particular the role of teachers as passive learners positioned as recipients of expert knowledge from those outside of teaching. The role of the facilitator also became essential requiring different skills and expertise to that usually associated with such a role in traditional PD approaches. Results indicated that all operational program features were interdependent and interconnected with four dimensions of teacher professional learning: personal; interpersonal; contextual; and, technical. The study contributes empirical results illustrating that teachers working within specific learning conditions are capable of: clearly articulating the deep thinking that drives their teaching; meaningfully linking new thinking and understandings with the dynamic reality of their teaching context; and, working together to socially construct shared principles of professional practice. The study shows that professional learning needs to be less about the construction of a ‘program’ and more about conceptualizing a process of learning.