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Teachers’ understandings and practices of professional self-development: perspectives from thirteen teachers.

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This study explored teachers’ understandings and practices of professional self-development, drawing from the perspectives from thirteen teachers. My interest in this study arose from the reports of teachers’ poor participation in Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD). While the Department of Basic Education required teachers to engage in Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) now known as QMS, where teachers could identify areas where they need to be developed, this hardly happened. The nature of the research problem placed the study within the interpretive paradigm and used qualitative research design. Two theories were adopted to underpin and guide this study. These were Self-Determination Theory and Transformational Leadership Theory. This study used snowball sampling where the focus was on teachers who might provide information necessary to answer my research questions. Semi-structured interviews and documents analysis were used to generate data from thirteen participants from four schools. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyse data. The findings suggest that there is lack of understanding of professional self-development. Consequently, teachers in this study did not participate effectively in professional development through CPTD. Teachers engaged in workshops that were conducted for two or three days which proved to be ineffective for teachers. Various obstacles like lack of money, overloading, lack of time and lack of resources were identified as some of the stumbling blocks to teachers’ professional self-development. The findings also suggested that the support from the schools, as well as from the Department of Basic Education was inadequate. Based on the findings of the study, it is recommended that teachers and schools need to refocus their attention on teacher self-development, if the quality of education provided is to improve in any substantive way. Teachers need to seek a deeper understanding of this important aspect of their development. Once they obtain a clearer understanding of professional self-development, their development practices are likely to change and improve. Issues around allocation of sufficient time for serious engagements in professional self-development will happen easier when there is proper understanding of the need and the benefits of professional self-development. When duty allocation is done, provision for professional self-development will be made because there will be a clearer understanding of professional self-development.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.