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Professional Development of Teaching

The professional development of teachers is studied and presented in the relevant literature in many different ways. But always at the core of such endeavours is the understanding that professional development is about teachers learning, learning how to learn, and transforming their knowledge into practice for the benefit of their studentsí growth. Teacher professional learning is a complex process, which requires cognitive and emotional involvement of teachers individually and collectively, the capacity and willingness to examine where each one stands in terms of convictions and beliefs and the perusal and enactment of appropriate alternatives for improvement or change. All this occurs in particular educational policy environments or school cultures, some of which are more appropriate and conducive to learning than others. The instruments used to trigger development also depend on the objectives and needs of teachers as well as of their students. Thus formal structures such as courses and workshops may serve some purposes, while involvement in the production of curricula, the discussion of assessment data or the sharing of strategies may serve other purposes. Not every form of professional development, even those with the greatest evidence of positive impact, is of itself relevant to all teachers. There is thus a constant need to study, experiment, discuss and reflect in dealing with teacher professional development on the interacting links and influences of the history and traditions of groups of teachers, the educational needs of their student populations, the expectations of their education systems, teachersí working conditions and the opportunities to learn that are open to them.

During the past ten years a large number of articles published in Teaching and Teacher Education have reported on research and interventions designed for teachers, with teachers and by teachers aimed at their professional learning, with an eye on their impact on teacher and student changes. They cover different geographical regions and different research and development procedures. The first part of this article provides a birdís eye view of the content of these pieces, thematically organised in terms of their main emphases. The second part reviews more closely nine articles selected as being particularly illustrative of the thematic areas, and also representative of different geographic locations and contextual particularities. ... More

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