Developing teacher-led professional learning in a Tanzanian secondary school : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The competence of Tanzanian teachers, as in other countries, depends on high quality and widely available ongoing professional learning opportunities. Currently, in Tanzania, provision of professional development for secondary teachers is inadequate and sporadic. This study explores the complexities of teacher-led professional learning in the context of a Tanzanian secondary school and as such, provides a nuanced model of how teachers can develop a sense of agency of their own professional learning. Firstly, this study investigated how Tanzanian secondary school teachers perceived and engaged in school based professional learning. Practice changes made by teachers and their understandings of school-based professional learning are then examined as they engaged in an inquiry and knowledge-building cycle. The factors that constrained and enabled teachers to engage in this school-based professional learning are also analysed. An embedded mixed action research was conducted in two phases. Phase One survey data revealed that teachers were not satisfied with the quality of their existing professional learning and that they wanted to engage in more learning. When four teachers in one secondary school were assisted to engage in a series of inquiry cycles, as a means to engage in effective professional learning, they demonstrated varying degrees of change in their practices. These transformations were primarily related to implementing new pedagogies based on their students’ learning needs and reflecting on their professional learning. This shift in practice was associated with the teachers’ changes in their understanding and valuing of teacher-led professional learning and distinguishing this from previous external training that lacked relevance to their teaching situations. Lack of learning materials and funds were found to be critical barriers that constrained their engagement in professional learning. Established support systems enabled the teachers to strengthen their collaborative learning practice and their understanding of ways to engage in their own professional learning. The findings revealed the teachers’ developing capacities to carry out professional learning and to own and manage it themselves. The changes shown by teachers in this study suggest that teachers can initiate and collaborate in effective professional learning if they are supported to do so. This study contributes to understanding of Tanzanian teacher engagement in professional learning, especially in poorly resourced schools. Based on these findings, implications and recommendations are made to develop teacher-led professional learning in Tanzania and similar jurisdictions.
Action research in education, Tanzania, Case studies, High school teachers, In-service training, Professional learning communities, Reflective teaching, Educational change