Teacher to learner and back again : a narrative inquiry into teacher voice in professional learning

Sammanfattning: My research investigates how four experienced Ontario elementary teachers use their personal and professional knowledge to define what they consider to be personal, purposeful and relevant professional learning, or authentic professional learning (Mockler, 2013; Webster-Wright, 2009). Authentic learning is here understood to represent what the teachers themselves described as their lived experiences of ongoing professional learning, and what they identified as relevant and purposeful for their continued professional, as well as personal learning. I used a narrative approach, which takes a situated, holistic perspective in examining teachers’ lived experience and motivation for engaging in professional learning (Webster-Wright, 2009). The primary rationale for using narrative inquiry is to construct narratives of how experienced teachers describe authentic learning in the test-driven environment that dominates the Ontario educational climate today. It is important to cultivate a trust in what the teachers express. In honouring their voices, we may develop a deeper understanding of their perspective, as teachers’ professional learning is an important element of how teachers merge new knowledge with their professional practice for the purpose of improving student learning. I found that these experienced teachers seek out learning opportunities that honour their professional knowledge, integrity, and identity. While looking for a sense of autonomy in their learning they also expressed a desire to work with other experienced teachers in order to collaborate, communicate and construct new learning. As experienced teachers are a rich resource, capable of building up the educational profession in Ontario, it is vital for the educational system to capitalize on the professional capital, wisdom, and knowledge of experienced teachers. This method of understanding professional learning through the lens of experienced teachers proffers an alternative approach to gaining a deeper understanding that constitutes authentic professional learning for them.

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