Exploring the Role of Professional Learning Communities in Supporting the Identity Transition of Beginning Design and Technology Teachers
Wenger (Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998) argues that we cannot become humans by ourselves. Similarly, this chapter purports that we cannot become teachers by ourselves. The process of becoming a teacher is complex and is influenced by many occurrences, practices and people (Pillen M, Beijaard D, Brok PD, Eur J Teach Educ 36:1–21, 2012). When pre-service teachers commence and complete their university study, they hold varied personal narratives about their perceived professional identity as educators (Lortie D, Schoolteacher: a sociological study. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1975; Groundwater-Smith S, Mitchell JM, Mockler N, Learning in the middle years: more than a transition. Thomson Learning, South Melbourne, 2007; Smith R, Teach Teach Theory Pract 13(4):377–397, 2007). These perceptions have been shaped by many constructs including personal and professional histories (Day C, Kington A, Stobart G, Sammons P, Br Educ Res J 32(4):601–616, 2006; Furlong C, Eur J Teach Educ 36(1):68–83, 2013), the content of university courses (Zuga K, J Technol Educ 2(2):60–72, 1991; Smith R, Teach Teach Theory Pract 13(4):377–397, 2007), school- and community-based experiences and interactions and conversations with peers, university and school staff, friends and family.
Once pre-service teachers transition into their teaching roles, these perceptions are influenced further by the diversity and complexities of the school context itself (MacLure M, Br Educ Res J 19(4):311–322, 1993; Coldron J, Smith R, J Curric Stud 31(6):711–726, 1999). This chapter explores the impact of schools as professional learning communities and more specifically the role that school-based mentors and nontraditional mentoring strategies can play in supporting beginning teachers. The chapter argues that while the role of school-based mentor teachers is significant, it is the establishment of a whole school culture built on a positive organisational climate that is instrumental in providing support. The chapter concludes with a discussion of traditional and nontraditional strategies that can enable schools to establish such cultures.
KeywordsProfessional Development Professional Identity Mentor Programme School Leadership School Culture
I wish to sincerely thank my principal supervisor, Professor Howard Middleton, who guided my learning and supported me professionally throughout every stage of my study. I also wish to sincerely thank my two co-supervisors Dr Margaret Freund for the initial years of my study and Dr Judith Peters for the latter part of my study. They both provided valuable guidance, support and friendship.
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