The influence of context on teachers' conceptions of professional expertise.
This research involved the contextual influences on teacher professional expertise in the Central Urban area in Durban. It explores what happens to teachers when their context changes and how they cope with a challenging environment. This study documents and describes a particular group of foundation phase teachers’ experiences in a specific school and how the context of this school influences their professional expertise. The study draws on Dryfus and Dryfus (1986) five stage typology which describes how and why teachers’ abilities, attitudes, capabilities and perspectives change according to the skill levels. An empirical investigation involving a qualitative research methodology was done using the case study method to present this research. The instruments used in this exploration were individual semi-structured interviews with six foundation phase educators and a focus group interview with a group of five foundation phase teachers. A City centre school was used as a sample. One male teacher and five female teachers were selected. All the participants were Indian. Interviews were used because of the need to observe the teachers facial expressions and emotions during the interview. The study was able to identify the various challenges that presented itself to both novice and expert teachers in the profession. The findings are organised under eight themes which are: the conceptions of a novice teacher; the conceptions of an expert teacher; novice teachers and school context; expert teachers and school context; novice teachers and change in curriculum; expert teachers and change in curriculum; the role of experience for novice and expert teachers and novice and expert teachers relationships with peers/leaders and mentors. Emergent findings suggest that both expert and novice teachers experience difficulties in a complex and challenging context are further presented under seven themes in which the researcher did a cross analysis. Cross theme analysis was used to present the findings of a further seven themes which are; conceptions of expert and novice teachers are different, teaching and school context are experienced differently by novice and expert teachers, curriculum change makes teaching challenging for expert and novice teachers, experience is important for expert and novice teachers, every teacher needs a mentor, all teachers are always a novice and the need for flexibility.