English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal Volume 33.2
Volume 33 No 2 16 English Australia Journal improve their teaching practice, so that it would be more accurate to say that they experienced an evolution along the continuum, and that awareness of the process of professional development emerged toward the end of the project. Arguably, these professional development outcomes emerged from teacher research, rather than exploratory practice specifically. However, there may well be a link between exploratory practice and the specific outcomes of learning to work with others and professional development. Our initial preference for exploratory practice was chiefly based on a perception that it represented a sustainable approach to teacher research. It involved identification of puzzles and a collaborative search for understanding, but also a commitment to sustained experimentation and reflection that progressively deepened understandings of these puzzles. As one of us put it in a project meeting, exploratory practice was a flexible approach that provided just enough structure for sustained and meaningful reflection on practice. Narrative inquiry, which contributed much to our understanding of the professional development process, was also a natural development of the exploratory practice approach, in which attention shifted from one puzzle to another as the project developed. Conclusion Focusing on the professional development outcomes in exploratory practice, this paper has highlighted two areas of development – working with others and awareness of professional development processes – that have not been emphasised in previous studies. Because evidence-based studies on teacher research and professional development are still relatively few in number, we hope this will be pursued in further studies in which participants explore their experiences of professional development in teacher research. We have also come to attach particular value to formal reflection on our experience of teacher research, through collaborative narrative enquiry. It was during this reflective phase that we began to move beyond conclusions that were specific to and embedded within the two projects toward more complex understandings of the processes of professional development. One limitation of this approach is that a protracted period of collaboration might not be possible in other circumstances. Nevertheless, we would argue that the study shows evidence of the value of extending teacher research projects, albeit for shorter periods, to include a follow-up phase of explicit reflection on professional development outcomes.
English Australia Journal Volume 33.1