Leading Teacher Professional Learning for Innovative Learning Environments: A Critical Analysis
Innovative Learning Environments (ILE), encouraged by the OECD and driven by government funding, are presenting opportunities and complex inter-relational, administrative and pedagogical problems for teachers and leaders in schools. Designed to present flexibility, openness and access to resources, the ILE removes the barriers of a traditional single cell classroom to one of a community forum. The metamorphosis to ILEs is inextricably linked to shifts in expectations of bespoke teacher professional learning. Consequently, the role of school leaders bifurcates to not only connect teachers with unchartered professional learning but, also, balance the inter-relational dynamics exposed by the context of moving to ILEs. This thesis attempts to unpack the micro influences involved in sustaining pedagogical change and how leaders enable the ILE philosophy to embed within the fabric of school culture.
The research found that minimal professional learning exists to facilitate the prescribed transition to ILE. This has left some leaders interpreting a pathway that fits the culture of their school. It has also meant that essential forms of learning and assessment are now being re-understood or re-engineered to fit the ILE philosophy. Coupled with those conditions are the inter-relational dynamics generated when colleagues are required to share a teaching space.
A qualitative methodology was employed for this research, focusing on two New Zealand schools, one intermediate (Year 7 and 8) and one primary through to intermediate (Year 1 through to Year 8). Across the two research sites, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with two principals, one deputy principal, one associate principal, three team leaders, and four teachers working across two academic year levels.