Findings From The Early Professional Learning Project 281009
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Findings From The Early Professional Learning Project 281009

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Findings from the Early Professional Learning project. ...

Findings from the Early Professional Learning project.

Presentation given at the local authority probation managers' seminar on 28 October 2009 by Jim McNally & Allan Blake, Department of Curricular Studies, University of Strathclyde

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  • The Early Professional Learning project. The Early Professional Learning project was conceived to explore the extent to which a grounded theory of early teacher learning could enhance the competence-based model for new teachers and contribute to the practical formulation of that process. Findings revealed a striking contrast between the experiences of new teachers in schools and their development through use of professional standards. We found that the main engagement with the standard by new teachers was in relation to their need to complete their interim profile. The all-encompassing process in learning to teach was about becoming a teacher: that is, gaining an identity through a number of discernable dimensions of experience – emotional, relational, cognitive, material, structural, ethical and temporal – a process for which the standard provided no guidance or structure. As one participating new teacher put it, the ‘idea that we can give everything an [interim profile] code… is completely meaningless’.
  • Based on a qualitative data set of interviews with 154 new teachers in 45 schools in Scotland and England, and a quantitative data set comprising over 5,000 returns from five indicators of teacher and pupil experience, our model of early professional learning depicts the experience of beginning teachers as a process of identity formation that is largely dependent on affective engagement with colleagues and pupils taught.
  • Our reading of this earlier research identified the need for a more progressive focussing on Early Professional Learning, including the need for a sharper instrument that might better elicit the subtler layers of the beginning experience. It was in order to realise these intentions that we employed teachers as researchers in Scottish schools, and it was precisely their insider knowledge that elicited data which struck us as ‘hot’ (immediate, spontaneous) in contrast to more conventional, ‘cold’ ethnographic interviewing where respondents recall their experiences in more reflective and arguably rationalised ways.
  • Given that relativism saps political commitment, we arrived at a general theory of relationality. Using a correlational design, dimensions of the EPL model were operationalised as independent variables in relation to a series of learning outcomes as measured by the project’s quantitative indicators. By correlating new teachers’ induction experiences with their responses to a job satisfaction survey, for example, we found that as much as 41% of the variation in new teachers’ overall job satisfaction was attributable to working relationships with colleagues in their departments. Whilst statistical correlations in themselves do not prove causation, they can be read in conjunction with the personal narratives and the sense of individual identity formation obtained from reading the transcripts of the new teachers’ interviews. The analysis of the narrative data of the teacher from a moment ago, one of the few to record outright dissatisfaction with her job on JOBSAT, reveals how her negativity was rooted in the way she was undermined by other teachers in the department.
  • As to the reasons why conversations were important to new teachers ‘I felt better’ is the explanation most often cited (n 102, 43.2 per cent), followed by ‘I learned something’ (n 82, 34.7 per cent). It is worth noting that it was conversations with another teacher that most often caused new teachers to feel better (n 28, 46.6 per cent). Conversations with a mentor or supporter appeared to be less significant in this regard (n 16, 35.5 per cent). In discussing these findings we to tend to agree with Eraut (2004: 267) in thinking that the emotional dimension of professional work is much more significant than normally recognised, with ‘informal support provided by people on the spot’ - in this case, other teachers - tending to be most valued. Of the 45 occasions when a new teacher sought to speak to their mentor, in 22 per cent (n 10) of those intended interactions the colleague in question was unavailable. The indication from interact then, within this sample at least, is that in the first three months of teaching the affective component of interactivity (‘I felt better’) appears to be of moderately greater significance to new teachers than say the cognitive (‘I learned something’), a finding that appears to support the importance of the emotional-relational dimension in the learning of new teachers.

Findings From The Early Professional Learning Project 281009 Findings From The Early Professional Learning Project 281009 Presentation Transcript

  • Findings from the Early Professional Learning project Jim McNally & Allan Blake Department of Curricular Studies University of Strathclyde
  • EPL Project Background ESRC TLRP Phase 3 (2004-2008, £770K) Stirling and MMU Develop and test a model of EPL Combine qualitative and quantitative methods Enhance competence-based professional learning ?
  • Dimensions of Early Professional Learning
    • Identity Formation
    Emotional Relational Structural Material Cognitive Ethical Temporal
  • The Indicators
    • Job satisfaction (jobsat – 241 returns)
    • Children in classes taught (cepsati - 3181)
    • Interactions (interact - 382)
    • Expert Judgement (exjudge - 84)
    • Pupil Development (PDI -27)
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  • Relationality
    • now a major conceptual theme, proposed in our earlier research (1994; 1997):
      • informal relational support as ‘natural mentoring’
      • experience of new teachers governed by ‘relational conditions’ with colleagues and pupils.
    • supported later e.g. ‘informal support from people on the spot’ Eraut (2004)
  • Identity Formation
    • Newcomers into teaching are joining a community of practice but this transition involves, as Wenger (1998) argues, a relationship between learning and identity in which a sense of identity is integral to the individual’s feeling of belonging. The learning is transformative and is a process of becoming a new person or, in this case, a teacher. (McNally et al . 2009: 328)
    • “ I am being undermined at times when people [other teachers] come into the classroom and make comments in front of pupils about the way I am teaching or the way things are being done and I don’t necessarily think that is the way it should be done. I think perhaps that it should be said at a different time and certainly not in front of pupils.” (Butterkist)
  • A general theory of relationality
    • ρ = 0.642, p<0.01, N = 29
    • Suggests that 41 per cent of the variation in new teachers’ overall job satisfaction is attributable to working relationships with colleagues.
  • Interact
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  • ?
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  • Mean scores of the rank ordering (1-12) of most significant person with whom NTs interact Person category N Min. Max. Mean Std. Deviation Teacher your department 46 1 7 2.83 1.539 Pupils I teach 44 1 9 2.84 2.145 PT or faculty head 47 1 12 3.21 2.095 Mentor/supporter 46 1 9 3.52 2.178 Other new teacher 46 1 9 4.13 2.072 Teacher in nearby room 39 1 12 4.49 3.128 Family or friends 45 1 11 4.62 2.766 Teacher other department 43 1 10 5.70 1.934 Other staff 43 2 11 6.42 2.096 Senior manage team 44 1 10 6.64 2.263 LEA staff 29 2 12 8.21 2.731 other 12 5 12 8.50 2.355 Mean scores of the rank ordering (1-12) of most significant person with whom NTs interact Person category N Min. Max. Mean Std. Deviation Teacher your department 46 1 7 2.83 1.539 Pupils I teach 44 1 9 2.84 2.145 PT or faculty head 47 1 12 3.21 2.095 Mentor/supporter 46 1 9 3.52 2.178 Other new teacher 46 1 9 4.13 2.072 Teacher in nearby room 39 1 12 4.49 3.128 Family or friends 45 1 11 4.62 2.766 Teacher other department 43 1 10 5.70 1.934 Other staff 43 2 11 6.42 2.096 Senior manage team 44 1 10 6.64 2.263 LEA staff 29 2 12 8.21 2.731 other 12 5 12 8.50 2.355 Mean scores of the rank ordering (1-12) of most significant person with whom NTs interact Person category N Min. Max. Mean Std. Deviation Teacher your department 46 1 7 2.83 1.539 Pupils I teach 44 1 9 2.84 2.145 PT or faculty head 47 1 12 3.21 2.095 Mentor/supporter 46 1 9 3.52 2.178 Other new teacher 46 1 9 4.13 2.072 Teacher in nearby room 39 1 12 4.49 3.128 Family or friends 45 1 11 4.62 2.766 Teacher other department 43 1 10 5.70 1.934 Other staff 43 2 11 6.42 2.096 Senior manage team 44 1 10 6.64 2.263 LEA staff 29 2 12 8.21 2.731 other 12 5 12 8.50 2.355
  • CEPSATI
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    • No Standard Experience
    • “ It doesn’t actually give anything of me, ‘Rachael the teacher’. It’s just like a ticky box style of a form and in some cases I did put in a lot of work and to an extent I would have liked to have blown my own horn, saying I put in all this work and look what I have achieved, whereas no I just put in fourteen-eleven-o-four (14/11/04).”
    • Interviewer: Did you give out the [Cepsati] questionnaire to the pupils?
    • New Teacher : There were some rather bizarre pictures of me that they drew and there were also some comments about it was a bad class and they didn’t behave […] they are quite a difficult class.
    • Interviewer: Was it helpful?
    • NT: I think it was yes, I think it was quite helpful because it raised a couple of points about things that they were doing in class and how they were kind of doing them maybe differently. We were about to start a new course for the second years and it hadn’t been written yet, so with that class I sat down and spoke to them and said, well you raised these things and I know that you don’t like doing this or that. So we spoke about things and actually discussed what they would actually like to do and based the new course roughly round that, which is something that we were planning to do anyway but didn’t realise that they felt that strongly about it, so it was quite good to get input from them.
  • What’s in a name? “ Instead of standing there, well talking the way that I probably should as a teacher. I will be more slangy with them because that is what they understand and I will be, not their friend, but I will be more friendly with them than what I probably should be. I call one of the boys, I say, ‘Come on Shauny Shaun’, and it is like, ‘nobody calls me that, just you’. You know, he appreciates that, but I would never do that with any other class but that is what they need. …. I started thinking … I need to respond to you the way that you need me to…. and that has worked.” (Kerry)
  • What Children Say
    • A good teacher . . .
        • is generous
        • has faith in you
        • keeps confidences
        • likes teaching children
        • likes teaching their subject
        • helps you when you're stuck
        • allows you to have your say
        • doesn't give up on you
        • makes you feel clever
        • stands up for you
        • tells the truth
        • is forgiving
        • Year 8 pupils from Hay McBer Report
  • Relationality 2
    • Very special and demanding situations, often with a
    • crisis-like character, can lead to deep and comprehensive
    • transformative learning processes that include simultaneous
    • change in all the three learning dimensions (cognitive,
    • emotional, social) and have to do with the very identity of
    • the learner (Illeris)
    • Learning an inherently emotional process embedded within
    • a relational context … as an accepted concept of the
    • development of self and identity (Bosma and Kunnen)
  • Relationality 3
    • Ethical nexus inscribed in relations with others in the workplace.
    • Inescapable and bound up with technical skills.
    • Important for human flourishing and for the quality of work that is done.
    • (Hinchcliffe 2004)
  • Mutuality
    • ‘ ontological security’ for pupils through teachers (Giddens)
    • reciprocal as new teachers are dependent on their pupils for a sense of professional purpose / acceptance as a teacher…
    • … so, ‘reciprocal ontological security’?
    • teacher-pupil interdependence develops to a ‘pure relationship’ ( Giddens) - depends on mutual trust.
    • mutuality and interdependence is fundamental to the new teachers’ experience / identity formation - and transcends the meeting of a professional ‘standard’.
  • The place of self?
    • ‘ relational self’ - conveys agency and purpose in a self that is intrinsically dependent on pupils and colleagues and others for its emergence and expression (Hoveid and Hoveid from Schibbye)
    • ‘ biographicity’ - the capacity that people have that could not be taught by experts … their uniqueness as a resource for building new relationships (Alheit and Dausien)
    • self can never be a self-sufficient construct … placed radical emphasis on particularity and situatedness … abstract questions about selfhood only pursued as specific questions about location (Bakhtin)
  • … and self again
    • Self under self, a pile of selves I stand
    • Threaded on time and with metaphysic hand
    • Lift the farm like a lid and see
    • Farm within farm, and in the centre, me.
    • (from ‘Summer Farm’ by Norman MacCaig)
    • EPLwebsite
    • http://www.strath.ac.uk/curricularstudies/eplproject/
  •