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  • 1. Towards Contemporary Practice:
    A model to encourage professional engagement through the development of Teacher Practical Theories –
    Oh the places You’ll Go!
    By Abi Woldhuis
  • 2. Introduction
    “You have brains in your head.
    You have feet in your shoes.
    You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
    You’re on your own.
    And you know what you know.
    And YOU are the guy who’ll
    decide where to go”
    (p. 2, Seuss, 1990)
  • 3. What is a teacher’s Practical Theory?
    “a hierarchically structured set of beliefs about the proper ends and means of teaching, the characteristics of students, the modes of learning, and the ways in which all of these interact to govern the teacher’s behaviour at any given moment” (p.80, Gage 1977)
    “..a person’s private, integrated but ever-changing system of knowledge, experience and values which is relevant to teaching practice at any particular time” (p.9, Handal and Lauvas 1987)
  • 4. Teacher’s Practical Theory
  • 5. Pedagogical Shift – An agent for Professional Engagement
    rapid change
  • 6. Pedagogical Shift – An agent for Professional Engagement
    (p. 11, Seuss, 1990)
  • 7. The Towards contemporary practice Model – The path forward…
    “Growth of the school based professional community is marked by conversations that hold practice, pedagogy, and student learning under scrutiny…Rich and recurring discourse promotes high standards of practice, and both generate and reinforce core beliefs, norms and values of the community. In other words, talk is the bridge between educational values and improved practice in schools.” (p. 182, Horn & Little, 2010)
  • 8. The Towards contemporary practice Model –Its Genesis…
    Evolved through professional dialogue involving the author of this paper with educational leaders
    Source of professional development
    Monitored through teacher leaders
    Constructivist approach
    - learner as an active participant
    - unique repertoire of experiences and beliefs
    - constructs new meaning and knowledge
    - learner as having innate curiosities
    - emphasis on higher-order thinking and problem
    solving skills
    - teachers determine specific learning outcomes
    - cooperation and collaboration.
  • 9. The Towards contemporary practice Model –Its Genesis…
    Aspects of Action Research
    - experimenting with teaching and learning strategies
    - questions that arise out of everyday practice and the
    consequent effort to reflect and develop on those questions
    - adapt practice, test, experiment with new ideas
    - higher excellence
    - collaboration
    Learning Threes
    - breadth of ideas and accountability
    - intimacy and confidentiality
  • 10. The Towards contemporary practice Model
    Step 1: Develop the theory
    Develop your own theory
    Complete the Teaching Perspectives Profile Questionnaire (Pratt and Collins)
    Discuss your Teachers Practical theory in your learning three.
    Step 2: Identify a practice to shift
    Identify an area of your teaching where student engagement needs improving
    Step 3: Measure the current circumstances
    Use a tool that measures the engagement of students in your lessons
    “Class Behavioural Checklist” is a simple tool that can be used as a basic measure of student engagement. From: measuring-student-engagement
  • 11. Measuring student engagement checklist example
  • 12. The Towards contemporary practice Model
    Step 4: Research, decide and implement a change in pedagogy
    - Learning threes - discuss the options
    - Decide on the pedagogic tool(s) that you will employ in your chosen program to improve engagement.
    - Plan for and implement the program.
    Step 5: Measure the change
    - using the same tool as used in Step 3.
    Step 6: Evaluate and Reflect
    Step 7: Share the findings
    - brief statement (approx. 200 words and no more than 300 words)
    - share your statement with your learning three
    - publish
  • 13. Term 4 – trial of model…moodle
  • 14. Conclusion
    In the language of Dr Seuss, you know who you are going to affect but with brains in your head and feet in your shoes, where you go does not need to be a lonely and isolated place but rather one where professional engagement is encouraged, achievable and beneficial for the teacher but more so for the students in our care.
    Where will you go?
  • 15. References
    Altrichter, H., Posch, B., Somekh (1993) Teachers investigate their work: An introduction to the methods of action research. An introduction into the methods of Action Research. Routledge, New York.
    Anderson, L.M & Holt-Reynolds, D (1995). Prospective teachers’ beliefs and teacher education pedagogy: research based on a teacher educator’s practical theory, Michigan State University
    Beare, H 2001, From an old world-view to a new, ch. 2 in Creating the future school, RoutledgeFalmer, London, pp. 11-22
    Behavioural checklist: Class Behavioural Checklist: measuring student engagement Retrieved September 2010 from
    Berry, B., Daughtrey, A., & Wieder, A. (2010). A Better System for Schools: Developing, Supporting and Retaining Effective Teachers. Hillsborough, NC: Center for Teeaching Quality.
    Becker, H. J., & Riel, M. M. (2000). Teacher Professional Engagement and Constructivist-Compatible Computer Use (Teaching, Learning and Computing No. 7). Irvine, CA: Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations.
    Buchanan, J & Khamis, M (1999) Teacher renewal, peer observations and the pursuit of best practice. Issues in Educational Research, 9(1), 1-14
    Cadiero-Kaplan, K, (1999) Integrating technology: Issues for Traditional and Constructivist Pedagogies - Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 1999 - Retrieved October 2010 from
    Connelly, FM, Clandinin, DJ & He, Ming Fang 1997, Teachers’ personal practical knowledge on the professional knowledge landscape, Teaching and Teacher Education, vol.13, no.7, pp.665-74
    Handal, G, & Lauvas, P (1987). Promoting reflective teacher: Supervision in practice. Milton Keynes: SRHE and Open University Educational Enterprises.
    Horn, I. S., & Little, J. W. (2010). Attending to Problems of Practice: Routines and Resources for Professional Learning in Teachers' Workplace Interactions. American Educational Research Journal, 47(1), 181-217.
    Gage,N (1977). The scientific basis of the art of teaching. New York: Teachers College Press.
    Marland, P (2001). Teachers’ Practical Theories: Implications for Teacher Development p. 165-180 in Cheong, C., Mo ChingMok, M., & TungTsui, K. (Eds) (2001), Teaching effectiveness and teacher development: towards a new knowledge base. Hong Kong Institute of Education. Springer.,M1
    Marlowe, B., & Page, M. (1998). Creating and sustaining the Constructivist classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Retrieved October 2010 from
    Middleton, M & Hill, J 1996, Why our current schools can’t survive,ch. 4 in Changing schools: challenging assumptions and exploring possibilities, Hawker-Bronlow, Melbourne, pp. 47-54.
    Munby, H., Russell, T. & Martin, AK (2001), Teachers’ knowledge and how it develops, in V Richardson (ed.), Handbook of research on teaching, 4th edition, American Educational Research Association, Washington DC, pp. 877-904
    Petty, G. (2002), Improving Teaching with Action Research Retrieved September 2010 from
    Pratt, D and Collins, J 2001, Teaching Perspectives Retrieved September 2010 from
    Ritchie, SM 1998. Assessing Science Teachers’ Personal Practical Theories. Paper presented at the Australasian Science Education Research Association, Darwin, Australia, 9-12 July 1998, James Cook University.
    Sanders, D & McCutcheon, G, (1987). The development of practical theories of teaching, Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 2(1), 50-67
    Suess Dr. (1990) The Places You’ll Go! New York: Random House Children’s Books.