Australian Journal of Teacher Education

Australian Journal of Teacher Education


Dominant discourses on professional development for teachers internationally are increasingly geared to the priority of ensuring individual teachers are meeting prescribed standards-based performance benchmarks which we call ‘performativities’ in this paper. While this intent is invariably played out in individualised performance management meetings and ‘fly by’ professional development workshops, our research into a NZ primary school discovered a counter-movement at work rejecting imposed standards and preoccupations with instrumental performativites and replacing these with teacher co-constructed and contextualised capacity matrices immersed within an ‘open’ and ‘seeing’ professional learning culture of support. Within manifestations of a rich and enabling culture of professional development the ontological nature of professional development within the school offers understandings which show the experiential nature of ‘being in’ and ‘feeling seen’ in professional development with consequent implications for improved classroom practices. The purpose of this paper is to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach – Using interpretive and hermeneutic analyses within a phenomenological inquiry, experiential accounts of the nature of professional development at a New Zealand Primary School are worked for their emergent and ontological themes.

Findings – This research reveals the ontological nature of professional development as a matter of ‘being in’ and ‘feeling seen’ in professional development in an embodied, supported and holistic way.

Originality/value – Importantly, the nature of a school’s culture and a teacher’s way-of-being within this culture matters to teacher professional development practices and teacher professional growth. Implications exist for school leaders, teacher educators, and teacher and leader education programmes approaches to professional development in relation to the priority of experiential stories for understanding professional development practice, the need for re-balancing a concern for professional knowledge and practice with new teachers as a ‘way of being’ in professional development, and the pedagogical implications of evoking sensitivities and attunement in professional development practice for new teachers.

Keywords- Teacher Standards, School Culture, Professional Development, Ontology

Paper type- Conceptual research paper


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