Reflective pedagogical practices in an era of standards based reform: What do teachers do? An examination of science teachers' communities and their contribution to the facilitation of professional growth through authentic reflection
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National and international science reform movements are sweeping through the educational landscape aimed at improving scientific literacy in students across the world. A myriad of professional development (PD) initiatives by governing bodies are continually initiated to help improve teacher knowledge in both science content and process. Change in not accomplished easily as visions and mission are often challenged by deeply engrained ways of being. In this study we explore the salient cultural and contextual factors that support teacher learning through the framework of Reflective Practice. The research questions aim to answer the following: (1) To what extent do teachers see PD activities connected to their daily teaching practices and (2) What are the salient cultural and contextual factors within the educational environments that encourage reflection which leads to growth in teachers? Although the geographical location, culture and PD approach of the two educational contexts vary and therefore incomparable, salient commonalities were found within the two contexts that explained a varied pattern of behavior among the participating teachers. It was found that the role of the leaders in schools, accountability structures, interaction with technology, fidelity towards the program and cultural values of the educational context deeply influenced the drive and direction of PD initiatives that led to teacher knowledge growth and change that was either fully or at the least partially realized. The knowledge gained in this study does not aim to compare one context to another, rather it points to the direction that one can go with knowledge that proves to nurture and sustain teacher knowledge growth and development through a cycle of continuous change.