Developing a strategy to facilitate multigenerational collaboration of teachers to improve their communication skills for teaching
Maibi, Makhoali Elizabeth Kelello
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In this study, a strategy to facilitate the multigenerational collaboration of teachers in order to improve their respective communication skills for teaching is developed. I act as the principal investigator, working together with the participants in the research as co-researchers. To achieve the above, the research team used David Parker’s principles of knowledge as the research design. Accordingly, it first identified the challenges inhibiting effective multigenerational collaboration of these teachers, resulting in poor communication skills for teaching. Second, the team explored how effective multigenerational collaboration among teachers was facilitated in other settings, thereby leading to improved communication skills for teaching. Third, significant conditions that ensured that effective multigenerational collaboration among teachers did lead to their improved communication skills for teaching were identified. In the fourth place, the team highlighted threats and risks that have to be anticipated, resolved and circumvented when facilitating effective multigenerational collaboration among teachers that would lead to improved communication skills for teaching. Lastly, and based on all of the above, a total strategy that had been tested in the field to facilitate multigenerational collaboration among teachers leading to improved communication skills for teaching was presented. Conducting this study was necessary for a number of reasons, among other things, because of the increased age diversity among the teaching workforce, comprising of at least four distinct generations of teachers in the same school who use different communication skills. In the previous study, these differences were shown to be confusing, not only among teachers themselves but also from the perspective of the learners. For example, in some cases, information and communication technology is used and shared virtually, while in other cases, teachers prefer in-person, face-to-face interaction and the use of the chalkboard as a teaching aid. Older generations of teachers prefer the latter strategies, while younger teachers tend to use the former. In this study, it is demonstrated how effective (deliberate and structured) collaboration among teachers from diverse backgrounds leads to improved communication for teaching among various age groups. Another reason why conducting the study was necessary is because it shows how the effective facilitation of multigenerational collaboration among teachers leads to the improvement of their communication skills for teaching. This interaction was ignored in the previous research. The research team used bricolage as the theoretical framework to couch the study and to define the position of where researchers come from theoretically, as required by a mainly qualitative study concentrated in the eight moments thereof. This framing is relevant because of the complexity of the subject matter that this study is handling. The subject matter requires the multimodal, multi-layered and multi- perspectival lenses the team has used in the theorisation, unpacking and understanding of the operational concepts “multigenerational collaboration” and “communication skills for teaching”. Bricolage enabled the research team to understand the challenges faced by a multigenerational teaching corps in improving its communication skills for teaching from various perspectives. It further enabled the research team to adopt a myriad of methodologies informed by a wide spectrum of theoretical perspectives as it generated and collected data informed by these individually and collectively. Even while reviewing the literature, this tapestry of theoretical positions was applied to unearth insights that were not easily discernible when using one lens or perspective or theoretical framework. Conceptually, the research team interrogated the operational concepts of intergenerational collaboration and communication skills in order to enhance the meaning thereof and contribute to a fresh and new understanding brought about by the study. The research was conducted in Botshabelo, east of Bloemfontein, using three schools as research sites. Eight teachers teaching one of the following subjects were paired: English, business studies, mathematics and physical science. In each pair, one represented an older generation of teachers, while the second was a teacher of a younger generation. Pairing them encouraged networking and enabled them to share problems. A multiple case study was used to generate data. In order to make inferences about the process, the team relied on the effectiveness of interactions. To analyse the interactions, critical discourse analysis was used to analyse the data at the textual, discursive and social levels. From this analysis, the data were coded and revealed five patterns that were the main causes of poor communication among the different generations. The findings brought about the development of the strategy. A team was established to design a strategy and set goals from different perspectives. Thereby teachers were to be encouraged to share their learning and pool their resources together. Through the use of intra-organisational resources, awareness training on communication competency was applied. Team teaching should be used because it is critical for the success of a school.