Supporting foundation phase professional development : a self-study of a Head of Department.
This personal history self-study focuses on supporting Foundation Phase teacher learning through professional development in an Independent school context in South Africa. In engaging in this study I am the main research participant who takes the reader through the passages of my early childhood experiences, my schooling, and my training as a student teacher and my practice of being a teacher and a Head of Department at an Independent Muslim School. I investigate how I can use a deeper understanding of my personal history to enhance my understanding of my professional practice and thus to better support Foundation Phase teacher learning through professional development strategies and initiatives in my particular Independent school context. Through this process of deliberate remembering, I uncover many hidden experiences of my early learning, and of becoming a professional, which have impacted on my present practices as teacher and Foundation Phase Head of Department. Key themes that emerge are: a) guidance and inspiration from family; b) evolving from teacher centredness to learner centredness; c) deep-rooted intrinsic motivation; d) teacher mentoring and collaboration; and e) developing greater self esteem and freedom of expression. From these themes I develop questions to spur me on in supporting teacher learning through professional development initiatives in my school context, allowing me to revisit my existing practice. This study illustrates how our lived experiences have helped to shape and continue to reshape our practices as teachers and school managers. The study also shows how we can learn from our personal histories in order to enable us to develop our pedagogical and managerial capacities.