lives and which constrain their opportunities rather than support their choices, stand little chance of bringing about the desired ‘improvement’. Teacher educator/ teacher agency is critical to effective professional development. Last, but very far from least, in her chapter Anne Wiseman revisits a project in Bulgaria a dozen years after its formal end-date. Her evaluation is innovative, not just because of this time dimension, rare in any project evaluation, but also in that it focuses not on the usual quantifiable outputs of traditional evaluations, but on the impact of the experience of the project on the individuals centrally concerned, told through their narratives. As we saw in Chapter 2 by Gulyamova and her colleagues in Uzbekistan, narratives can bring a project to life, providing vivid illustrations of participants’ experiences over time; and in Wiseman’s chapter we are able to see in particular the long-term impact on the people involved. Impact came not just in the intended outcomes – improved skills as trainers, for example – but also in the unintended outcomes. These were both personal and professional. Yet again, the notion of a community of practice comes to the fore. The participants in the original project have a lifelong bond, built on shared experiences and shared understandings of practice, as one said: ‘The thing is that I say something, just two or three words, with Elena and she understands. With other people, even university people who haven’t been part of this group, I have to explain myself.’ Beyond the professional, the personal impact was often transformative too, creating a new sense of possibilities for project participants (‘I learnt to swim at 40, I learnt to drive and now I am learning Turkish’) and those around them (‘This changed my life. So when my husband, for example, got involved in new things, it was thanks again to the fact that I encouraged him to do this’). Of course, change may not be without tensions, an ‘inside struggle’, reinforcing the lesson that one cannot underestimate the time needed for significant shifts in practice to be assimilated into an individual’s professional frame of reference; and, as the narratives in this chapter show, for impact of an innovation to be felt in other parts of the education system. The chapters in this volume cover a wide range of geographical areas, educational contexts and examples of how CPD enriches teachers’ professional lives, which, in turn, contributes to student learning and overall improvement in the quality of school systems. They have not glossed over difficulties encountered, learning from these as well as their successes. In the current educational climate, where ‘accountability’ is often a synonym for bureaucratic control, and when international comparisons such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) are taken as measures of a country’s educational ‘success’ or ‘failure’ (Meyer and Benavot, 2013), it seems to be increasingly difficult for teachers to focus on their own long-term development to offset the myriad short-term demands on their time. However, in the final analysis, all the contributors to this volume show that there is scope for teachers’ – and teacher educators’ – continuing professional development even within the most initially unpromising frameworks. Furthermore, whatever the conditions, the narratives that illuminate many of the chapters provide ample evidence of the value to individuals of finding the space, either alone or (preferably) in a community of practice, to make use of the CPD opportunities that can be found in their contexts.
Published on Aug 29, 2014
Published on Aug 29, 2014
The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...