Collaborative Approaches to Teachers’ Professional Learning and Development in New Zealand Primary Schools
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This study adopted a qualitative research approach using purposive and convenience sampling which allowed the researcher to access six staff participants in two primary schools in Auckland. They participated in semi-structured interviews to explore approaches for teacher collaboration in professional learning and development in those schools. The research findings revealed the use of collaborative learning formats which were structured in four layers of teacher professional development (PD). The four layers were 1) a network of schools/community of learning, 2) school-wide PD, 3) team PD or syndicates, and 4) personal PD. These learning formats used collaborative features of evidence-based dialogues, inquiry and reflective approaches across collaborative activities such as study group, school PD meetings, peer mentoring and coaching, network-based workshop or training, and classroom observation and feedback. Professional learning and development in both schools were supported by conditions where the schools implemented distributed leadership practice, used student assessment data and other evidence to guide their PD planning, and had a strong collaborative learning culture where teachers' capacities were valued, praised and trusted. Thus, healthy relationships were built across the school and within a cluster system. Networking systems were found to be preferred by one school in this study, while the other school was a member of a Community of Learning (CoL). The networking school system may help schools to mobilise financial resources more at the teacher level, whereas the CoL seems to use the resources more at the senior leadership level. Some challenges and strategic solutions to deal with those challenges are discussed. Learning from the study, the researcher could use the knowledge and ideas in her working place in Cambodia. Some limitations of the study are described and suggestions made for future research.