Source: Professional Development in Education, Vol. 37, No. 3, July 2011, 411–437.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article seeks to reframe teacher professional learning within the specific policy context of a new national model of master’s level professional development – the Master’s in Teaching and Learning (MTL) in England.
The article describes the design and early implementation of this major national design initiative.
This novel hybrid master’s degree seeks to span the traditional academic– practitioner divide, reconstitute the theory-practice dynamic as reciprocal and coconstruct an authentic signature pedagogy for teacher professionals drawing on contextualised theories of learning and teaching.
The historical, theoretical and pedagogic foundations of the programme of professional enhancement are described at the outset of the implementation of this new model of early career development in the South West of England through the formation of university provider consortia.
The framework embeds practice-based learning and assessment into professional and academic learning, thus enabling learners to effectively manage the interface between work and study.
The core teaching and learning process
The MTL participant teacher is supported by in-school coaches and university tutors through practice-based and technology-mediated learning, drawing on subject developments locally, nationally and internationally.
Together, the coach and tutor, whose roles will often overlap, are responsible for the two major aims of the programme.
Specifically, the coach and tutor are responsible for the pupils to improve their achievement and for the participant teachers to gain professional knowledge, accredited at master’s level, leading to the full award of MTL.
Central to the MTL core teaching and learning process is a critical professional dialogue exploring teachers’ epistemologies and conceptions of learning, promoting a shift towards more complex and sophisticated understandings of their own learning.
Within the MTL core teaching and learning processes, four core strands of professional development are described, acting together to form the generic learning base for individual modules within the award.
The intention is that learning occurs through professional scenarios derived from the teacher’s own practice with collaborative engagement in and beyond the school:
Creating effective learning environments
Teachers are required to be active in creating successful learning climates that are characterised by positive and productive classroom settings, using assessment as a focus for learning.
Developing effective professional learning
Teachers will need to examine their epistemological beliefs, values and attitudes as they relate to developing learning strategies within a wider educational context as well as recognising situations that can bring about collaborative learning.
To achieve this, teachers will be required to engage with colleagues in the formation of effective learning strategies that are shaped by activities such as peer observation and the improvement of practice through data analysis relating to teacher and pupil performance.
Creating pedagogic awareness and effectiveness
This strand requires teachers to be active developers of their own pedagogic awareness and effectiveness.
Key approaches to accomplishing this involve teachers engaging in professional learning opportunities that promote the development of sophisticated conceptions and shared understandings of what is best practice.
Developing wider school experience
This strand highlights that through engagement in professional scenarios, teachers will develop effective professional practice by learning collaboratively from and with others in and beyond the school, providing professional challenge and new perspectives.
Teachers will be required to work with other professionals to share learning through distributed leadership.
All four strands focus on developing a sophisticated generic pedagogic knowledge within teachers along with enhanced subject and pedagogic content knowledge.
The authors conclude that if the overall effect of concentrating, calibrating and synchronising the variables constitutive of the MTL is to improve the culture of professional learning and positively affect pupil orientation towards and achievement of learning, then the concept of an ‘all master’s profession’ will be validated as a policy initiative in education.