Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, 42:1, 36-51
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This paper explores the Estonian novice teachers’ learning and knowledge building (hereafter LKB) practices in the extended professional community using the knowledge conversion model (Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995) elaborated for the teacher development context (Tammets, Pata, and Laanpere 2013) to understand the novices’ professional development from both an individual and a community aspect.
The fundamental assumption made in this study is that teachers’ participation in the professional community facilitates their professional development and learning.
Novice teachers’ LKB in estonian teacher education context
The authors report that every teacher entering the teaching profession in Estonia participates in the induction programme.
The extended community support for the professional development of the novice is crucial in the Estonian induction programme.
The programme addresses professional development and mutual learning by involving the novices, mentors from the workplace and experts from the universities in one professional community.
The induction programme combines two action environments (a) learning and development in the school context with mentor support, and (b) the two-day peer-meetings for the novices at the universities, four times per year.
This approach is quite unique because of the integration of the two types of mentoring, one-to-one mentoring at school and peer-group mentoring at the university.
The authors had the following research questions in this study:
(1) What are the patterns of novices’ LKB activities in the professional learning community during the induction year programme?
They considered novices’ participation level in different types of LKB practices as an indicator of their involvement in the extended professional community.
(2) To what extent the extended professional community is formed during the induction year, and what role the different types of members play in LKB activities in that community?
The researchers felt that mapping the induction programme problems systematically within the extended professional community could pinpoint where the interaction with novices should be improved.
Instrument and participants
To investigate the formation of the extended professional community during the the Estonian induction programme, a five-point Likert-scale questionnaire that measured novices’ perceived LKB activities during the induction year was developed by the researchers.
The instrument was distributed among all novices (N = 141), who worked their first year as a full time teacher and participated in the induction programme.
The respondents had started their teaching career in autumn and had 9 months of work experience before the data was collected at the induction programme seminar in spring.
The authors explored LKB practices in the extended professional community as one of the drivers of teachers’ professional development.
Their study contributes to an understanding that a professional community across schools and universities should be created to provide a better induction experience for novice teachers in schools.
The authors’ approach of applying the systemic SECI model to the LKB practices in the extended professional community provided an insight into the community members’ involvement in novices’ LKB practices during the Estonian induction programme. The most characteristic forms of active participation in the professional community appeared to be KB with the colleagues at schools and the learning experts at the university and self-reflection of professional competences.
The authors discovered that many novices perceived insufficient support from other teachers and university experts. It appears that building up the coherent induction system as the extended professional community of educators, where different partners collaborate and share professional knowledge is challenging. Applying the SECI model in analysing the induction programme activities may be useful also in other educational contexts.
The authors see two main future implications for supporting novice teachers’ LKB in the extended professional community.
First, development of the extended professional community to increase the LKB cultures among educators could be started developing during pre-service studies and the induction period and the in-service self-development could continue these LKB cultures.
The innovative technologies supporting learning in the community could be considered in increasing the exchange and evaluation of new teaching materials and practices.
Second, they it as important to embed the novices in the LKB culture in educational institutions.
It appears that novices face difficulties in being part of the collaborative LKB practices of the teachers’ community. For more effective embedding the mentor should be assigned to actively introduce the novices to the LKB practices that teachers have in schools. Interactions through collaborative development and transformation of created and shared objects between the novices and mentors, teachers and university lecturers could be promoted.
Tammets, K., K. Pata, and M. Laanpere. 2013. “Promoting Teachers’ Learning and Knowledge Building in the Socio-Technical System.” The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 14 (3): 251–272.