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In 1950, Erik Erickson introduced the concept of generativity in psychosocial development when referring to an individual’s desire to produce new knowledge that contributes to the guidance of the next generation. Nearly fifty years later, Epstein built on the term generativity in his research when referring to the generation of new or novel behavior in problem-solving. According to Epstein, generativity theory is a formal, predictive, empirically based theory of ongoing behavior in novel environments. Because it can be used to predict generative behavior and engineer new performances, it is also predictive of creativity and offers important contributions to the study of the transformative processes needed by teachers who desire to work effectively with students in culturally and linguistically complex classrooms. The evolution of theories of generativity can be traced from their use in studies of psychosocial development, to their use in studies of education, teacher education, and the preparation of teachers who work effectively in complex, 21st century classrooms. It should be noted that the theme that runs throughout the research literature on generativity over the last seventy years is a focus on using the term generativity theory to refer to a formal, predictive theory of creative behavior in individuals. When applied to education and the development of teachers to teach in culturally and linguistically complex classrooms, it is important to note that oftentimes teachers—many of whom have never worked with diverse student populations before—must develop the ability to translate their desire to teach into a conscious concern to serve the next generation—into a generative commitment to teach all students. They must make decisions to establish goals for generative behavior and then turn those decisions into generative actions and the creation of effective pedagogical solutions that meet the needs of their diverse students. One meaning of generative behavior is to generate things and people, to be creative, productive, and fruitful, to “give birth” to creative pedagogical problem-solving both figuratively and literally. The scholarship on generativity theory emphasizes the notion that generativity, unlike simple altruism or general prosocial behavior, involves the creation of a product or legacy. The qualities emphasized in generativity theory are the qualities needed by teachers who hope to be effective in their work with diverse populations. Generative behavior involves the conservation, restoration, preservation, cultivation, nurturance, or maintenance of that which is deemed worthy of such behavior, as in nurturing children and adapting traditions that link generations and assure continuity over time—through generative concern, action, and narration. Reflection is not enough. Rather, generative action that stems directly from teachers’ commitment, enhanced belief, and stimulated by concern, inner desire and cultural demand is needed. Generative action—which includes the behaviors of creating, maintaining, and offering to others—is the ultimate result of generativity. Narrations of generativity and the use of writing as a pedagogical tool for deep thinking are two means by which the complex relations among demand, desire, concern, belief, internalization, commitment, and action can be captured and analyzed.

Article

Helenrose Fives, Nicole Barnes, Candice Chiavola, Kit SaizdeLaMora, Erika Oliveros, and Sirine Mabrouk-Hattab

Beliefs refer to propositions that are considered to be true. Teachers’ beliefs refer largely to the beliefs teachers hold that are relevant to their teaching practice. Teachers hold beliefs about a myriad of things, as do all humans. However, specific beliefs about teaching, learning, and students seem to play a particular role in teachers’ practices and willingness to engage in professional learning opportunities. Teachers’ beliefs are relevant for issues in teacher education such as motivation for teaching, instructional practices, classroom management, and assessment activities. Beliefs that preservice and practicing teachers bring to professional learning experiences influence how and what is learned in those experiences and ultimately what is put into practice. To understand what is meant by the construct of teachers’ beliefs, one must consider the variation in definitions and the need for construct clarification. Any investigation into teachers’ beliefs must account for two fundamental aspects of this construct: the nature of belief as a construct and the content of belief under construction. By nature of belief, we refer to how the construct of belief is defined and understood, in particular the stance that researchers take with regard to the relationship between knowledge and beliefs. Belief content refers to what the belief is specifically about, such as general beliefs about teaching, learning, students, or more specific beliefs about an instructional practice (e.g., cooperative learning), classroom assessment, and diverse student groups. Without a clear conceptual understanding of the beliefs investigated, understanding empirical findings and drawing implications for practice may be misguided. Four themes frame the scholarship on teachers’ beliefs: (1) conceptualizing teachers’ beliefs, (2) teachers’ beliefs and teachers’ practice, (3) development of teachers’ beliefs, and (4) changing teachers’ beliefs. Teacher educators should consider the importance of teacher beliefs on teacher learning when designing and implementing learning experiences for preservice and in-service teachers. Specifically, teacher educators need to provide opportunities for teachers to reveal their beliefs, attend to identity and emotion with beliefs, and support belief enactment. A key finding across the field is the need to consider the whole teacher when examining teachers’ beliefs and facilitating change or development in them; that is, teachers’ emotions, identity, career stage, life stages, and the myriad of beliefs they hold about a variety of topics all influence how beliefs are aligned and enacted (or not) in practice.

Article

Curriculum reform is at the heart of educational change and impacts pupils, teachers, other educational professionals, and society at large. Moreover, the way we go about developing our schools and designing curricula defines our future and reveals where we stand regarding the role of education in society. In order to research the desired aims of reforms, it is crucial to understand curriculum making: How does the school develop, and what regulates the development? Learning is at the core of school development. It can be considered as both the aim and the primary means of achieving and sustaining any change in schools. Accordingly, the impact of a school reform is highly dependent on the quality of learning enabled within the school communities. Particularly, the extent to which the reform engages teachers in active and skillful learning by promoting their professional agency is a central determinant of the reform’s outcomes. The core curriculum is the single most influential regulator of school development in Finland. It is renewed approximately every 10 years and provides a common direction and basis for renewing school education and instruction, and sets the framework and foundation for district- and school-level curriculum development work. Teachers in Finland are curriculum makers not only in the class and school, but also at the district and even national levels of the school system. In such a system, teacher autonomy and teacher agency are at the core of school development. Moreover, teachers’ ability to understand the aims of the reform and to integrate, modify, and adopt them as part of their pedagogical practices is essential. This requires making sense of their aims. In Finland, shared sense-making has been the main strategy in the latest participatory reforms, with the aim of promoting transformative learning in professional communities in order to reach reform goals.