Details of Thesis

TitleTeacher Learning Matters: The interrelationship between the personal and professional lives of rural teachers
Author Weadon, Helen Ann
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2007
Abstract The aim of this thesis is to highlight the growing understanding that schools and all its members are continually learning. This has provided a new lens for educationists to view the professional and personal needs of teachers. Goodson (1996) refers to the fact that researchers have often omitted the ‘lived voice’ of the teacher in educational research. By this he means that the life stories and experiences of teachers, told by themselves, are ruled out as irrelevant data by many researchers. The early work of Hall and Morgan (as cited in Queensland Consortium for Professional Development in Education (1996)., and later Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1996) who based their work on the stages of nurse development, but adapted to assist with understanding the professional and personal lives of teachers, formed the initial interest in exploring the under researched area of teachers’ lives. This qualitative research study explores the interrelationship between the personal and professional lives of teachers especially those in mid to late careers in rural areas. Participants in this study completed a written survey and then oral contributions through focus groups or interviews. A model which illustrated the critical influences on teachers’ professional learning in their school was developed as a result of the analyses of the teacher data. This model highlighted the need for the provision of professional learning opportunities that incorporate the four major themes which emerged from this study. It also showed the need to maintain a learning culture in a school that is inclusive of all teachers regardless of their life or career stage. Reactions to this model were then obtained from the school principals, and from professionals working in the education system office. These reactions showed distinct variations to those of teachers. The teachers clearly had the view that teacher learning does matter to the life of a learning community. The challenge for rural schools is to provide teachers with professional learning opportunities that incorporate adult learning principles and empower teachers to take control of their own professional and personal learning.
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