The Effectiveness of Instructional Supervisors in Promoting Personalized Professional Learning at Four Private Schools in Abu Dhabi
EL MAMLOUK, SALIM GHALEB
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Personalized professional learning (PPL) is conceptualized as a targeted set of instructional supervisory practices designed to address teachers’ diverse growth needs and relevant interests. Research across a wide range of contexts shows that some schools that implement the PPL are led from the side by instructional supervisors who have challenged the traditional top-down paradigm of professional learning and redesigned its core practices to facilitate offering a personalized set of bottom-up professional learning strategies. These strategies involve teachers collaborating individually in a personalized focus with their instructional supervisors or collectively with other teachers. The PPL is practiced in the UAE, yet there is no transparent and clear investigation to show whether it is promoted effectively. Thus, this study investigated the effectiveness of instructional supervisors in promoting PPL at four private schools in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. A mixed research method was employed as a methodological triangulation design to guide the investigation using a model for PPL and an integrated theoretical framework that merges various theories and models related to leadership and learning. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected using data collection instruments that included self-administered questionnaires, semi-structured and focus group interviews, and document analysis. The study’s findings revealed that the professional learning provided impacted teachers’ performance based on the perceptions of instructional supervisors. However, teachers perceived that instructional supervisors were still relying on top-down professional learning practices that limited their choice, restricted their voice, and barely tailored professional learning content to their growth needs or interests. Teachers were restrained by top-down decisions that limited their freedom to choose or design their PPL activities. The study concluded with implications and recommendations for policy and practice to better foster a profound PPL experience. These recommendations include adopting more personalized and job-embedded strategies from the bottom-up professional learning model. Also, using digital platforms adaptive to assess, track and manage teachers’ needs, granting them a space to exchange experiences and share best practices, along with offering more ongoing learning opportunities to teachers everywhere at any time. For policymakers, upgrading the professional learning policy and the school inspection framework with guiding statements that provide more detailed descriptions of personalized professional learning would be valuable.