Teacher professional development : an integrated approach.
The purpose of this study is to explore the perceptions of teachers with respect to the intentions of the Developmental Appraisal Policy, how the policy was implemented at school level and its influence on Teaching. How this policy came to be understood and interpreted at school level during its implementation phase is the subject of this study, focussing on a teacher-union sanctioned policy aimed at Teacher Professional Development. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies characterise the data collection strategy. A survey questionnaire was administered to 181 teachers in the Verulam Circuit in KwaZulu-Natal. Indepth semi-structured interviews were conducted using a stratified random sample of 15 teachers in proportion to the three variables namely, gender, age and race. The study's findings reveal the following: 1) The implementation of the policy was largely executed in a technical administrative fashion which provide semblances of being well understood and accepted as a new form of appraisal replacing the former "judgemental approach" to Teacher Appraisal. 2) In the actual practical operation of the proposed teacher professional appraisal procedures, teachers at the institutional level were seen to be using the Developmental Appraisal Policy in not so different a fashion as the former judgemental model, which promoted nepotism and a superficial attention to deep teacher professional changes. An important question needs to be borne in mind: Does a union-driven policy lead to deeper changes in Teacher Professional Development in a democratic ethos? 3) Most of the teachers claimed that sharing of resources and assessment techniques had positively influenced their Teaching- Practice. However, these activities had been in practice long before the introduction of the Appraisal policy. There were also conflicting views whether the Developmental Appraisal Policy or Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) Policy had caused an influence on Teaching Practice. There was very little to no evidence to suggest that the appraisal policy had influenced the teachers' Teaching Practice. 4) The study revealed that the different genders, ages and races interpreted the impact of the Developmental Appraisal Policy in relation to their unique expectations of their school context, their lived! executed experiences of teaching and their stages of development as professionals. A "one-size- fits-all" Developmental Appraisal Policy is thus discouraged. The results suggest three broad implications for school-based Teacher Professional Development viz.: • changes needed at the policy landscape (at the Department level), • changes needed at the school landscape (at institutional level), • and changes needed at an individual level. Firstly, the Department of Education as the employer tries to regulate the school from the "outside". Changes at this level include for example, the need for Department officials to rethink the way they perceive and communicate with the broader constituency of teachers. The gap between the Department as "bureaucrats" and teachers need to be narrowed. Both Department officials and teachers need to realise that they are "partners" towards improving the quality of teaching and learning. Secondly, the thesis argues that there are many changes necessary at an institutional level to engage with Teacher Professional Development. For example, school personnel such as teachers and managers need to design a flexible school timetable to accommodate time for teachers to engage with Teacher Development. Thirdly, personal factors such as love for children, passion and dedication towards the profession emerged as important factors in engaging with Teacher Professional Development. Thus, the thesis argues that Teacher Professional Development entails developing also the "inner qualities" of the teacher. Teacher Professional Development cannot be confined to faithful compliance to delivery of state-designed curricula. Finally, the thesis argues that we need to integrate harmoniously the changes at these three levels i.e. the Departmental, institutional and individual levels so that effective Teacher Development can take place. This study contributes to understanding more qualitatively and quantitatively the Teacher Development landscape of post-apartheid educational transformation from the perspective of teachers within their institutions engaging with policies targeting their professional growth.