Managing Learning Journeys in Active Movement: Developing theories of change in professional development and change
Type of content
This thesis explores two problems: (1) how early childhood teachers can manage professional development and change in their own settings, and (2) how to create a thesis. Both facets of the thesis emerge from the professional development in Active Movement that the teachers and I co-constructed at our early childhood centre between April 2005 and June 2006. This thesis sets out to test the main idea that having a theory of change for teachers' professional development can help teachers negotiate complex change and craft their own professional development solutions. It uses stories as a key facet of its methodology and presents stories of professional development and change related to five inter-weaving learning journeys. The learning journeys relate to (1) my learning journeys as a professional development coordinator and (2) as a researcher, (3) the overall learning journeys and (4) & (5) teachers' collective learning journeys to implement two different but related practices in Active Movement. The stories provide a range of professional development solutions and change at individual and collective levels from which different theories of change can be derived. From these stories, I identify three theories of change as well as the complex changes we negotiated and the professional development solutions we crafted. In identifying the theories of change, the complex changes and the professional development solutions, this thesis supports the main idea and argues that teachers can develop a theory of change to manage professional development and change in their own settings. This thesis argues that a theory of change is a set of strategies that address the local conditions. It suggests that the process of developing a theory of change can include articulating local conditions and creating strategies that support and guide the change in ways that address these local conditions. It also suggests that recognising what counts as local conditions and strategies can help teachers develop their own theories of change. In creating the strategies to support the change effort, it is important to identify the purpose of the strategies, their underlying values and relationships, and the day-to-day realities that constrain the change effort. At the same time, it is important to identify how different strategies inter-relate to help us manage the tensions that can arise from these relationships. This thesis argues that theories of change can include multiple and embedded theories of change, that we can create theories of change as plans or explanations of change or as dynamic theories of change that emerge from the inter-play between plans and explanations. This thesis also argues that there are different ways to articulate our theories of change and that there are limits to the extent to which we can or should articulate them. It also argues that the theories of change we create and use for our change efforts depend on the nature of the change. A theory of change that embodies the process of emergence is useful for managing professional development and change efforts that have a high degree of complexity and uncertainty and whose end goals are initially unknown. This thesis also suggests that creating the role of a professional development or change coordinator can help centres manage the knowledge used and created in the professional development or change effort in ways that benefit individuals, groups and the centre. This thesis also argues that (1) the thesis investigation is my personal professional development and represents my learning journeys to create a thesis, (2) the thesis report constitutes a theory of change for the thesis investigation, and (3) the thesis is experimental in the way that it is reported. This thesis proposes other possible investigations related to the idea of theories of change; (1) to develop an Active Movement community of practice within the wider early childhood sector, and (2) to investigate the role of theories of change in everyday teaching and learning. Finally, it uses the notion of value creation to suggest ways to create added value for the teachers and the Centre, for Sport and Recreation New Zealand and for myself.