Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Teaching together, working together, and being together: Teacher collaboration in Innovative Learning Environments
    Bradbeer, Christopher John ( 2020)
    For New Zealand primary school teachers, the spatial transition from traditional to Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) also contains an underlying assumption that increased pedagogical and professional collaboration will be commensurate. However, for many teachers, collaboration has previously constituted a ‘visited activity’, conducted away from the interface with students and the act of teaching, providing little experience upon which to draw. Working through theoretical perspectives on both teacher collaboration and educational space, and within the case study context of early-adopter primary schools, this thesis contributes to educational research by investigating and analysing the theoretical background, conceptual underpinnings, and enacted experiences, of teachers collaborating in ILEs. The study uses data collected from qualitative semi-structured interviews with individuals and groups, practice observations, and documentation to produce four major findings. Firstly, insights into the nature of teacher collaboration in ILEs, according to how they have been envisioned, rationalised and realised. Secondly, insights into enacted approaches to teaching and learning in ILEs, highlighting four factors: pedagogical intention, collaborative practices, joint teaching strategies, and structural components e.g. shared language. Thirdly, demonstrated links between teacher collaboration and space, found to be a profoundly spatial phenomenon that is experienced via multiple proximities, relationalities, and visibilities. Fourth and finally, a model through which to support the theorisation of teacher collaboration in ILEs: Terrains of teacher collaboration in primary school ILEs. This model theorises that teacher activities are the product of working together, teaching together, and being together. It highlights the nature of the terrain between rhetoric, rationale, and implications, and the everyday realities of enactment. Here the imperative is one of explication – and the need to make explicit the implicit. The study provides important implications for educational theory and practice. Practically, the findings assist school leaders and teachers to recognise, reflect on, and respond to aspects of teacher collaboration in ILEs. The study provides language and a model through which to assist this professional learning. Theoretically it draws attention to the centrality of space and spatiality in teacher collaboration and forms a starting point from which to begin further theoretical work.