|OP6: Beyond the curriculum|
|Friday, 04 June 2010|
This paper examines the perceptions of a cohort of post-16 science teachers about formal and informal continual professional development (CPD) that has been significant in changing their professional thinking and action over a two-year period. It also analyses conversations with the students of these teachers - conversations that focused on those critical incidents that students saw as a valuable contribution to their own learning.
Altogether, 36 conversations from the two cohorts were examined for key themes. This showed that successful CPD, as gauged by both teachers and their students, is more about subtle sensitivities to individual student needs that enable higher level thinking, than it is about a focus on targets and the curriculum. The data from teachers reveal their increased interest in theories of learning, and that they value informal and voluntary CPD in small collaborative groups. The data from students demonstrated how much they appreciated their teachers’ efforts to interest and involve them in taking charge of their own learning.
The data suggest that effective CPD goes beyond the syllabus and examinations to focus at a meta-level on how theory can contribute to the enabling actions of teachers inside and outside the classroom. The paper summarises the complexity of the data into a conceptual map that intertwines the holistic nature of effective teaching and learning into three overarching categories. Results are related to literature in the field of CPD.
Conclusions suggest that effective CPD is ‘always more social than technical’ (Johnston et al., 1995:370), and that collaborative and other informal working between teachers in small groups yield significant benefits to both teachers and their students.