Promoting lifelong teacher learning in the intermediate phase : a self- study of a head of department.
The purpose of this self-study was to explore how I could learn from my own experiences to more effectively promote lifelong teacher learning as an Intermediate Phase (Grades 4–6) Head of Department (HoD) in a primary school. Lifelong teacher learning is treasured in this rapidly changing world and is also encouraged by the Department of Education through teacher professional development, which includes organisational learning and change. Wenger’s (1998) social theory of learning and Kelly’s (2006) socio-cultural perspective on teacher learning are two complementary theoretical perspectives that helped me understand the concept of teacher learning in a way that was appropriate for my self-study research. I used a personal history selfstudy methodology to re-examine myself and my experiences as a lifelong learner, with the aim of understanding how I can better encourage and promote lifelong teacher learning in my school. Using this methodology helped me to consider how a deeper understanding of my lived experiences could enhance my professional practice as a HoD. The strategies that I used to generate data for my study – journal writing, memory drawing and artefact retrieval – helped me to remember circumstances, events and people that have made a difference to my experiences of lifelong learning. These strategies could also be used by other teachers in developing themselves professionally through lifelong teacher learning. From my personal history narrative, I identified four key themes in relation to my topic of promoting teachers’ lifelong learning: the value of role models, the significance of self-motivation, the impact of gender in education and the language barrier. By exploring my personal history of learning and teaching, I became aware of how central lifelong learning has been to my personal and professional development. Thus, my personal history self-study research helped me to become more mindful of the value of teachers’ lifelong learning. Through the study, I became conscious that personal history self-study methodology is itself a form of lifelong learning that can be a vital tool for teacher development.