A case study of teacher learning: Professional development policy and practice

Ian Hardy

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


    This Chapter explores praxis development amongst a group of teachers engaged in professional development (typically described as 'PD') at a particular moment in the formation of Australian and Queensland state policies about professional development. The Chapter focuses on the activities of the group as they collaborated across their respective schools to try to orchestrate sustained, coherent cross-school professional development for themselves and their colleagues, during a time of significant educational reform. The group of teachers orchestrating these processes was known as the 'Curriculum Board', and the schools from which they were drawn were described collectively as the 'Future Schools Cluster'. The Chapter explores the work of the Curriculum Board as a locally mandated response to a broader policy context in which the reform of public schooling in Queensland was being advocated. It describes the work of the Curriculum Board and its effects as the product of a complex policy setting which simultaneously encouraged and discouraged the orchestration of active, sustained, teacher-led professional development practices. The Chapter focuses on the interrelations between Board members, and the nature of the teacher learning which transpired within the Board in the context of pertinent teacher learning policies, and the histories which informed these policies. The Chapter is divided into two sections to help the reader make sense of the way in which both the present and the past inform the mutually constitutive interplay between a particular group of teachers, and the context in which they undertook their work. The first half of the Chapter describes the learning which occurred, and the work of the Board more generally, as evidence of policy support for context-specific, teacher-led, ongoing and genuinely collaborative approaches to teacher learning, and also, perhaps contradictorily, support for more technicist, economistic andaccountability-oriented approaches. The data presented provides insights into the tensions evident within and across these disparate positions and emphases. These tensions are not simply the product of one specific policy moment, however. The second half of the Chapter puts these tensions in an historical context. It describes the professional development practices which transpired within the Curriculum Board more broadly in terms of historical tensions which have influenced relevant policies related to teacher professional development over the previous thirty years, and describes the way in which these tensions have been interpreted by teachers and school administrators as they struggled to make sense of them. That is, the Chapter provides insights into how teacher learning has been influenced by the broader policy context, and how these policies have served as metapractices or practice architectures (see Kemmis & Grootenboer, Chapter Three, this volume) that operated to enable and constrain the professional development that ensued.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEnabling praxis
    Subtitle of host publicationChallenges for education
    EditorsStephen Kemmis, Tracey J Smith
    Place of PublicationRotterdam, The Netherlands
    PublisherSense Publishers
    Number of pages22
    ISBN (Print)9789087902537
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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