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Constructing teacher communities for professional development in a Filipino setting Tubianosa, Teresita-Salve R.

Abstract

This study of science teachers in a Philippine state school explored the potential of group discussions as a learning landscape considering, in particular, how sharing of teaching experiences may contribute to professional growth. The study was conducted from July 1997 to January 1998. The main objectives were to gain an understanding of the influence of social interactions in improving the practice of individual teachers; and to explore how Filipino culture affects the interaction process. The setting of the study was the science department at a state school (K-10) in the Philippines. A discussion group was established to explore how teacher interaction might serve to raise awareness and shape classroom practice. The group discussions and individual interviews were videotaped and audiotaped, respectively. Group discussion as an intervention of the study provided an opportunity to examine how certain Filipino cultural traits and traditions may influence the participation of teachers in the interaction process. Qualitative analyses of the data provided information about the nature, value, benefits, and constraints of group discussions in learning to teach. The findings suggest that improvement in teaching is a collective rather than an individual enterprise and that teaching happens best in concert with colleagues (Rosenholtz, 1989); that collaboration is linked with norms and opportunities for continuous improvement and career-long learning (Fullan, 1991); that by interacting collaboratively, strengths can be maximized, weaknesses can be minimized, and the result will be better for all (Friend & Cook, 1992); that a learning forum free from traditional restraints is instructive (Krupnick, 1997); and that the field of education needs to capitalize on the knowledge of teachers who know about education as few others do (Duckworth, 1997). The researcher argues that Filipino culture plays a significant role in the dynamics of interaction occurring during group discussions. Recognizing and identifying this role is important if we wish to provide the teachers with the support, reassurance, and strength that their school and work demand.

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