Faculty of Education - Theses

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    Building teacher capacity and the dynamics of professional learning teams
    Begg, Beverley J. ( 2009)
    This research investigated the operation of facilitated professional learning teams (PLT) in secondary school settings in building teacher capacity through continuing professional learning in a community of practice. In this study I tracked the development and dynamics of three PLTs as the teachers met to discuss strategies to build strong teacher-student relationships in a sequence of PLT learning meetings with myself, the external facilitator. I explored the participants' perspectives on the impact of the PLT and identified the internal and external factors and conditions that influenced their operation, using a narrative inquiry approach. Using an analytic auto-ethnographical approach I explored my role as the external facilitator in development of the professional learning team as a community of practice. This research study used a multiple embedded case study design to facilitate comparison of evidence between teachers within each PLT, as well as between the three PLTs. Qualitative data were collected through a number of methods: transcripts of PLT meetings, PLT minutes and notes, a PLT evaluation questionnaire, teacher interviews, focus group interviews and researcher field observations. Relational communication within meetings was analysed. The PLT was perceived to be effective in building teacher capacity. The development of deeper collegial relationships enabled teachers to "deprivatise" their classroom practice, engage in reflective dialogue and learn from each other, thus improving their capacity in implementing strategies for developing positive relationships with their students. Teachers generally reported a positive impact upon their classroom practice, their sense of efficacy and student outcomes, in terms of improved teacher-student relationships. The ecological factors that impacted on the operation of the PLT were mapped using a bioecological systems model. The findings suggest that the facilitator's role is vital in the development of the PLT and in its operation and effectiveness.