An exploration of the role of Nizenande District Teacher Development Centre in supporting professional teacher learning.
Shange, Lindokuhle Portia Penelope.
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In KwaZulu Natal, District Teacher Development Centres have been set up in order to support teacher learning. This study explored how Nizenande District Teacher Development Centre (DTDC) supports teacher learning. The aim was to investigate what kind of activities teachers engage in, and what resources are accessible to teachers at the centre to enhance teacher learning. This study was located within the interpretive paradigm and a qualitative case study design was adopted. Purposive and convenience sampling were utilised in this study. Semi-structured interviews and observations were used. I interviewed three DTDC personnel and three IsiZulu teachers from different schools in the same district. The findings of this study indicate that the resources at the centre were not fully utilised by teachers due to the shortage of trained personnel to run programmes that require the use of the physical resources. Teachers said that they learnt new knowledge and skills from the activities that they engaged in at the centre. The centre offers a venue where teachers meet and learn collaboratively and hold meetings. Teacher learning at the centre is in two forms, one being voluntarily where teachers learn collaboratively in the PLCs, and the other where activities like School Based Assessment (SBA) and Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) moderation workshops, orientation workshop and final examination paper moderation that are imposed to them by the department. The professional development workshops at the centre seem to uplift teachers’ knowledge and skills in order to improve learner attainment. After attending the workshops, teachers said that they improved their understanding of developing a proper lesson plan, learnt the new skill of marking and how to structure essay type question for learners’ assessment tasks. They acquired this through engaging in several activities that were offered to them by the Department of Education district official. These activities were conducted collaboratively and teachers were allowed to participate in small groups thus enabling them to critically look at their challenges as IsiZulu teachers.