The interface between theory and practice: The role of teacher educators and teachers in a school-based teacher development initiative

Year: 1999

Author: Wong, Winnie, Pang, May

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Among the various approaches that can be used to try to bring about changes in educational initiatives, the main strategies have been broadly classified into three types; those that center on problem solving processes, conceptual changes, and the power and authority of some agents over others (Morris 1996). In a highly centralized educational system such as Hong Kong, the change strategies employed in curriculum initiatives have always been associated with the third. Curriculum renewal tends to be imposed on teachers from the top such as the Education Department. Teachers as one of the major participants in the curriculum development process are rarely involved in the planning and decision-making.

This paper describes phase one of a one-year school-based teacher development initiative in which English teachers of a primary school take the initiative in making changes to their existing curriculum with on-site support from a team of teacher educators. This teacher development project aims at adopting a problem-solving and interactive approach to teacher change in curriculum initiative. It also attempts to explore the roles of teachers and teacher educators in the process of collaboration. It intends to seek the interface between theory and practice in the local educational context, in particular in empowering teachers through mutual communication, negotiation, consultation, rather than top-down persuasion.

This paper also reports the preliminary findings from the qualitative data collected and discusses implications in relation to interactive curriculum change strategies, the interface between theory and practice, and the roles of teachers and teacher educators in a collaborative project.