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Dream Seekers：A Qualitative Case Study on Language Teachers’ Professional Development in Communities of Practice
Chen, Sino Hui-Fen
Sino Hui-Fen Chen
Language teachers’ professional development
Self-initiated teacher development
communities of practice
|Issue Date:||2021-08-04 14:22:50 (UTC+8)|
Teachers’ professional development enhances teachers’ practice because they equip teachers with the needed competencies to cope with constant changes and challenges in their practice. In the past decades, the trend of teacher development has shifted from mandatory to self-initiated, from formal to informal. That is also the case in Taiwan. With the recently implemented Curriculum Guidelines of 12 Basic Education, language teachers in Taiwan are encouraged to attend learning communities to explore and exchange teaching ideas with the purpose to improve their professional knowledge, skills, and student learning. However, limited research has been done to explore how language teachers learn in different locations on their learning trajectories and the affecting factors for those trajectories in communities of practice.
To fill this research void, this case study explores two female language teachers’ learning experiences in a self-initiated professional development program named Dream Seekers and examines the factors affecting their learning trajectories, under the theoretical framework of communities of practice (Wenger, 1998). The participants were two in-service language teachers, who first attended this community as new members to learn from senior speakers, and then became novice speakers who shared their learning with other in-service teachers in the community.
Data collection of this qualitative study includes semi-structured interviews, participants’ narrative accounts, workshop video recordings, and artifacts. In the initial coding stage, the researcher employed Charmaz’s (2006) grounded theory practice to analyze the data, which line-by-line coding was utilized. The emerged codes were placed into categories based on their fit and relevance. Data was read and reread till the code emerged. In the focused coding stage, the researcher took the segments of data apart, named them in concise terms, and proposed an analytic handle to develop abstract ideas for interpreting each segment of data (Charmaz, 2006). The codes were refined and created broader categories related to the research questions.
The results of the study revealed that language teachers’ learning-to-teach experiences in communities of practice were essentially boundary-crossing, self-becoming, relational, reciprocal, and collective. In addition, different teaching contexts, teacher quality, and teacher’s roles were all significant impetus in their learning trajectories. Furthermore, a more conspicuous expansion of language teachers’ mega-knowledge base and humanistic knowledge base was found when language teachers’ learning trajectories shifted. As the affecting factors, the results of this case study revealed that even though personal factors were significant determiners on their learning trajectories, social factors played a more dominating role. In addition, language teachers who were endowed with different positions exhibited multiple learning trajectories. And personal factors were the main attributes to make language teachers stayers or leavers in communities of practice. The present study proposes some theoretical implications. Several suggestions for current teachers’ professional development, Dream Seekers, and in-service teachers were made. The limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are also addressed.
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