Professional learning support experiences of primary school teachers in their third to fifth year of practice
Henderson, Duncan Clark
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/2210
A qualitative methodology was employed for this research, focusing on three New Zealand primary schools. Across the three data locations, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with six learning facilitators, and focus group discussions were carried out with twelve teachers who were in their third to fifth year of teaching. Performance management document analysis was also conducted at each of the case study schools.The major findings from this study indicate that no specific programmes of support were experienced or required for teachers in their third to fifth year of teaching, as whole school systems of professional learning, embedded within each school learning culture satisfied these teachers' support needs. Third to fifth year teachers' experiences of support for professional learning varied between schools. Variations concerned the nature of school cultures, the quality of working relationships and the effectiveness of professional learning practices. The findings imply that experiences of support for professional learning are strongly linked to the development of whole school cultures of learning, where practices and processes promote teacher agency, where school vision and values are co-constructed, valued and modelled, where there is genuine inquiry into student learning and teaching practice, and where working environments are collegial. Such cultures are likely to sustain improved student outcomes through supporting teachers' professional learning. It is concluded that support for third to fifth year teachers' professional learning takes place in the zone where effective practice, school culture and relationships overlap and inter-relate. The recommendations made from this study have definite implications for school principals and senior leaders that include modelling and reviewing a shared school vision and shared school values, developing third to fifth year teachers' leadership capabilities and co-constructing processes for reflective teaching and genuine inquiry into student learning.