What are we learning? : a case of teacher learning in a South African school - post 1994.
An understanding of teachers experiences of professional development activities and its contribution to their own professional learning in the context of change was composed by asking, “What are teachers learning and how is learning taking place through professional development activities in the context of change? From an interpretative paradigm, the triple-lens framework enabled an understanding of what learning happened and how this learning happened. In order to do this, the study looked at once-off professional development activities (PDAs), PDAs at school sites and at self initiated PDAs. The study was able to inform us on the effectiveness of these professional development activities for practising teachers. Drawing on data generated through individual and conversational interviews, this study found that teacher learning, within the South African context is taking place both formally (through workshops , own studies, cluster meetings ) and informally, (through discussions with colleagues). Teachers have learnt more through professional development activities which are driven by themselves, as well as collaboratively, through working with each other, that is, through conversations and assistance from colleagues. A very significant part of teacher learning is also taking place informally in the classrooms, through observation, experimentation and experience. Very little learning takes place when it is mandated. The study found that teachers learnt when they themselves were receptive to it. Demanding, or putting policies into place to direct teachers learning does not necessarily mean that teachers are going to learn. Teachers have learnt in varying contexts but most importantly, the journey of learning needs to begin with the SELF.