|dc.description.abstract||In Scotland, the interest and investment in the professional development of teachers
is currently focused on the ongoing development and implementation of its new
curriculum: Curriculum for Excellence. To cope with ever-evolving curricular and
pedagogical demands and to be able to effectively identify and meet the needs of the
students they teach, teachers need to become, and be, teachers-as-learners.
Accordingly, teachers and those with responsibility for defining and supporting
teachers’ development are likely to have a vested interest in identifying and
understanding what might best facilitate teachers’ learning.
Engaging with this agenda, the purpose of this study is to promote and inform
dialogue within and between all those in the educational community who have
responsibility for teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD), so that some
of the complexity involved in becoming and being teachers-as-learners might be
recognised and better understood.
With the aim to explore what we can learn from teachers’ own accounts of becoming
and being teachers-as-learners in Scotland today, this co-operative enquiry was
conducted with nine Chartered Teachers (CT), six of whom were fully qualified CTs
and three of whom were still en route to achieving full CT status. To meet the
Scottish Standard for Chartered Teacher, teachers need to demonstrate that they are
teachers-as-learners. Enquiring with these teachers was, therefore, seen as
particularly apposite to this study’s chief aim.
Attending to the personal, professional and political influences they perceived as
significant, these teachers shared their views, when they looked inwards to their own
feelings, reactions and dispositions; outwards, to the professional and political
environments with which they interact and backwards and forwards, over time. This
is the first study to carry out an inquiry with Chartered Teachers in a way that
allowed them to explore this complexity, because it sought to explore all four
dimensions, i.e. inward, outwards, backwards and forwards (Clandinin and Connelly,
2000:50) of their storied accounts.
Storied accounts of the teachers’ learning journeys were co-created during a loosely
structured, dyadic, in-depth interview. Integral to this process, was discussion about
the artefact(s) that eight, of the nine, participants had created for this study, to
represent, reflect upon and record aspects of their journeying. Thematic narrative
analysis has illuminated the complexity and particularity of each teacher’s learning
journey as well as some important commonalities across them. This thesis further
explores the teachers’ accounts of their experiences, in depth, and the key issues
these accounts raise.
Through examination of individual accounts, we learn, for example, that the
teacher’s own disposition to professional learning really matters but, importantly,
that it does not necessarily define the outcome. Sometimes supported and sometimes
inhibited by the professional and political contexts in which they work, these
teachers, motivated by a powerful sense of moral purpose, report that they have
made significant and apparently, sustainable changes to their thinking and practice.
Postgraduate CT study proved crucial to their journeying because, for the first time
since qualifying, they had been encouraged and supported to make sense of why and
to what extent, their day-to-day practices would, or would not, meet the needs of
their students. It is this understanding why that appears to have made the greatest
difference to their practice and to the reconstruction of their professional identities. It
emerged as one of the most significant influences to their becoming and being
teachers-as-learners. To do so, however, the teachers felt they have had to ‘dare to be
different’. Their ability, willingness and commitment to talk about, promote and
evaluate learning, in critically informed ways has meant they have often felt isolated.
Despite this, the perceived benefits of being a teacher-as-learner were seen to more
than compensate for what might be viewed as negative experiences.
The findings suggest significant implications for the provision of, and teachers’
participation in, CPD in Scotland. They indicate the need to establish a much clearer
and more critically informed focus on developing teachers’ knowledge and
understanding of why they do what they do to promote learning and to develop their
professional enquiry skills and understandings. If this is to happen, it will necessitate
systemic change and support, involving, individual teachers, teachers as collectives
within school cultures, CPD facilitators/providers and policy makers at all levels.||en