Practitioner Inquiry: The metaphoric learning journeys of first year teachers

Year: 2017

Author: Jhagroo, Jyoti, Stringer, Patricia

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The 21st century has seen a definite shift from teacher training towards teacher education in initial teacher education programmes in New Zealand. Practitioner inquiry positions teachers at the core of inquiry with the potential to steer practising teachers to be producers of knowledge rather than consumers of it, and to empower the teachers to direct their own professional learning rather than allow themselves to be passive recipients of generic professional development. Placing the teaching at the helm of the self-initiated reflective inquiry has the potential to nurture a liberatory approach to education. This empowering liberatory epistemology manifests in teachers attempting to clarify their notions, developing deeper critical understandings of their practice context and building their own capacity through focused inquiries that are relevant. Building teacher capacity is a fundamental component of effective practice. Engagement in practitioner inquiry has also been found to contribute to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning by offering new understandings and insight to teachers about their own practice. This inquiry process can be disruptive, however, this disruption or cognitive dissonance is necessary for professional learning to take place. The assertion being made in this presentation is that rather than external theoretical dictation of best practice being imposed on teachers, it is important for practitioners to develop their own understandings of their practice through their own inquiry of best practice in their own context through local knowledge. Through the lived experiences of a group of first year teachers as inquiring practitioners in primary schools in New Zealand, this research-based presentation explores the metaphoric professional learning journeys of each teacher. A phenomenological theoretical framework provides the lens through which the metaphoric journeys are explored. The ontological assumption of this framework is that there are multiple realities and that each teacher's journey offers a unique reality with the potential to offer new knowledge about being inquiring practitioners, and about being empowered through their deliberate self-initiated inquiries.