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A reimagined approach to professional development for Irish mathematics teachers

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posted on 2022-11-23, 12:57 authored by Jillian White

Upon completion of their initial teacher education programmes, professional development opportunities are often the only form of formal education teachers experience in relation to how they teach. When conducted effectively, professional development has the potential to challenge teachers and assist them to develop new skills.  In an ever-changing world, teachers need to adapt how they teach to adequately prepare their students for further education, work, and life in general. The aim of this study was  to design an approach to professional development for Irish mathematics teachers that could support their career-long development and assist them to better incorporate the changes to teaching and learning evident in recent national mathematics curriculum reforms. Based on the tenets of complexity theory, this project aimed to gain insights into four major influences on Irish mathematics teachers’ professional development and use these insights to suggest a reimagined approach to professional development for Irish mathematics teachers. The four perspectives were: (1) the theoretical and experimental literature on best practice regarding mathematics teachers’ professional development; (2)  the experiences of education systems globally regarding the professional development of mathematics teachers; (3) the views of current Irish mathematics teachers; and (4) the policy documents of the major stakeholders influencing teacher professional development in Ireland. The suggestions made by this research project include the need for a structure of professional development to be designed so that all mathematics teachers in Ireland  have regular access to converse and collaborate with colleagues. A structure of learning  communities through which mathematics teachers can explore an area of interest with other mathematics teachers was the recommended approach. This research also makes suggestions on: how teachers could be provided with the time to engage in these communities during already contracted hours; how communities could network with one  another and access the expertise of knowledgeable others using an existing Irish online collaboration platform; who could provide the necessary administration support regarding these communities; what resources communities will need access to and who should  provide these resources; and what data should be collected by and for these communities and what use this data could serve. 

History

Faculty

  • Faculty of Education and Health Sciences

Degree

  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Patrick Johnson

Second supervisor

Merrilyn Goos

Department or School

  • School of Education

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