Self-directed teacher professional development

Year: 1999

Author: Grootenboer, Peter

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Professional development often implies study for an advanced qualification, inservice courses or workshops, and personal professional reading. One important purpose here is improvement in pedagogical knowledge and classroom practice. As good as these professional experiences may be, they usually represent the influence of external agencies on teachers’ professional development, and one wonders about the place of continuous self-review as a viable source for the generation of knowledge and skill in educative teaching. The burgeoning use of action research in inservice teacher education reflects this view that teacher inquiries into their own teaching – being their own researchers – is as empowering, if not more empowering, of professional development than the more usual inservice modes. This paper discusses application of the action research model with a small group of mathematics teachers in a semi-rural high school. Self-directed professional development stemmed from collaborative review of the teachers’ classroom work in mathematics, reflective analysis of the findings or issues thereto, and subsequent planning and interactive teaching to test the viability of suggested ways of surmounting uncovered problems. Thus, over a series of action research cycles the participants set the agenda for their own review, and sourced solutions to the issues they discovered themselves. In so doing they controlled their own professional development, helping to reform their own professional practices.