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ERIC Number: EJ807090
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jul-17
Pages: 35
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 55
ISSN: ISSN-1207-7798
Do British Columbia's Recent Education Policy Changes Enhance Professionalism among Teachers?
Grimmett, Peter P.; D'Amico, Laura
Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, n78 p1-35 Jul 2008
Beginning with the Sullivan Royal Commission on Education in 1988, British Columbia (BC) teachers experienced a policy context that led to a decade of intense professional learning around innovative instructional strategies and curriculum. From 2001 on, the policy context changed considerably. There has been a flurry of changes designed to bring about both a cultural and economic re-structuring of the school system and significant changes to the professional side of teaching. This study reports on teachers' perceptions of these policy changes to ascertain the extent to which the changes have impacted on the opportunities available to teachers to engage in professional collaboration. It was found that teachers still reported some satisfaction with work structures conducive to collaboration but that the kinds of activities they engaged in were largely done around the edges of the school day. Teachers reported infrequent engagement in those tasks that require teachers to be committed to the kind of joint instructional task that is often associated with deep collaborative professional learning. This contrasted considerably with what previous studies had found evident in professional collaboration during the 1990s. The study also found differences between more and less experienced teachers. Both groups reported experiencing structural impediments to collaborative professional learning but, whereas this state of affairs frustrated more experienced teachers, less experienced teachers did not show a similar openness to activities emphasizing group work. The study concludes that the rapid policy shifts, diminishing financial support, and class size regulation changes have all contributed to a different form of socialization for today's beginning teachers than their more experienced counterparts had to face during professional induction. Since British Columbia faces unprecedented levels of retirement up till 2010, this could mean that we could be witnessing a shift in the professional attitudes of teachers who will constitute the body of the future workforce. This change toward a narrower conception of professionalism constrained by fiscal efficiency and accountability prevents us from talking glibly about professional learning and confronts us with a stark choice between "politically" fighting to protect professional learning as a core component of teaching in an era of diversity or "pragmatically" reconsidering what professional learning means within a policy context that reframes teachers' work as a labour relationship. (Contains 3 figures, 3 tables, and 11 footnotes.)
Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba. Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3T 2N2. Tel: 204-474-9004; Fax: 204-474-7564; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers; Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Vancouver)