A narrative inquiry : an exploration of teacher learning through clustering.
New curriculum reforms and changes post 1994 has created a need for teachers to reprofessionalise and reskill themselves so that they can implement reforms in their schools and classrooms. This has added pressure on teachers, novice teachers, as well as experienced teachers who have been teaching for over fifteen years, to learn an enormous amount of knowledge in order for them to teach effectively in the classroom. Knowledge on professional development of teachers is expanding to new and useful ways of teacher learning to embrace these changes. Recent literature suggest that teacher learning in communities of practice (Wenger, 1991) or learning communities (Lieberman and Pointer Mace, 2008) actually translates into enduring and sustained learning that leads to transformation in teaching and improving the quality of education. In addition to this clustering has been introduced as a useful way of teacher learning. The purpose of this study is to explore teacher learning in learning area clusters. These clusters are considered to be learning communities, because teachers are provided with opportunities to engage in professional dialogue and collaborative problem solving in issues related to teaching and learning. The conceptual framework used in data analysis is the knowledge – practice theory proposed by Cochran Smith and Lytle (1999) as well as Day and Sachs (2004). The four domains of knowledge are knowledge for practice, knowledge in practice, knowledge of practice and knowledge of self. This framework together with Shulman’s (1987) identification of content knowledge (CK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) was used in data analysis. The study was located within the qualitative mode of inquiry specifically in the interpretivist paradigm as it is concerned with interpretation and understanding of teacher learning experiences in clusters. In order to answer the research questions I used the method of Narrative Inquiry as this allowed me to understand how teacher knowledge is narratively composed, embodied in a person and expressed in practice. 6 I selected five participants who belong to learning area clusters who were purposively identified. Data was collected through semi structured interviews. The findings revealed that clustering is built on qualities of commitment, leads to teachers’ reflections of practices, increases confidence of teachers, promotes self-initiated learning and leads to organic learning in clusters. Clustering is one useful way of understanding teacher learning. This study contributes towards our understanding of how clusters can be used effectively to enhance teacher learning.