Exploring how a district teacher development centre supports teachers’ professional learning: a case study in Phumelela district.
Thwala, Ntombenhle Portia Nomcebo.
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The purpose of District Teacher Development Centres is the provision of teacher professional development. The DTDCs also aims to be a place where Professional learning communities should meet to enhance their professional learning for the improvement of their classroom practice. The centres should have resources and materials available to support teacher learning. The purpose of the study is to explore the extent to which a DTDC in a district in KwaZulu- Natal provides support to the teachers and to examine teachers’ perceptions of whether professional development they get from the centre contributes to their professional learning. My study uses the interpretive paradigm and a qualitative case study was adopted. I used observations, document analysis of attendance registers and quarterly reports and semistructured interviews as data generation methods. Ten participants were interviewed and five observations were made. I used purposive sampling for three centre personnel and convenience sampling for seven teachers. My study used Harland and Kinder’s typology of professional development outcomes as the conceptual framework. In analysing the data, I used thematic analysis and the conceptual framework. Findings revealed that many activities take place in the centre but the major activity that took place was workshops. The centre was mostly used as a meeting place for the teachers to get information on curriculum management and delivery. Moderation of school-based assessment also took place in the centre. Very few cluster meetings were mentioned by the participants as activities that take place at the centre. The centre was also used as the meeting venue for Education Department staff, community members and the Community Policing Forum, as well as an accommodation venue for matric learners during school holidays. The teachers’ perceptions of the centre’s support for their professional development showed they gained more administrative skills than the skills and knowledge that had an impact in their classroom practice. The findings also showed that the centre had no proper funding for its effective functionality in terms of acquiring resources. It did not have funds that were always available to finance urgent needs. The centre needed a proper security guard system, a receptionist, a Personal Assistant for the manager, as well as a science lab assistant. The centre needs to be supported by the Department of Basic Education so as provide proper professional development to teachers.