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Maxwell, Melanie B.
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Middle Tennessee State University
The purpose of this qualitative case study (Merriam, 1988; Stake, 1994) was to understand how teacher perceptions of their knowledge, practice and students’ knowledge change in a professional development learning opportunity that is based on their background knowledge in literacy instruction and what is determined to be their zone of proximal development. This study will explore the impact of context-specific professional experiences on teacher attitudes and perceptions of student learning. Based on a theoretical framework of Balanced Literacy (Fountas and Pinnell, 1996; Short, 1999; Taylor and Pearson, 2002), job-embedded professional development (Bransford, Brown, Donovan, & Pellegrino, 2003; Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995; Guskey, 2003; Showers & Joyce, 1996, Yoon, 2007), and scaffolding and Zone of Proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978), this study will answer the questions: 1) How will teachers’ perceptions of knowledge about literacy instruction change over time? 2) What will take place in teachers’ perceptions of their practice when they have participated in embedded, contextual professional development? 3) Which supports (coaching, self-assessments, contextual teaching), if any, will teachers perceive were the most effective in helping them implement the literacy strategies and theories from the professional development opportunities? and 4) What are the teachers’ perceptions of the children’s learning as readers and writers?
Nine teachers participated in a balanced literacy plus professional development. This case study focused on two of those teachers and their experiences within the professional development. Focus group interviews, individual interviews, self-assessments, and teacher reflection logs were collected throughout the ten-week study. The process of analyzing the data was organizing, coding, synthesizing and looking for patterns as part of the constant comparison method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; LeCompte & Schensul, 1999). Strategies to enhance the quality of data included triangulation and respondent validation. The study revealed teachers perceived the following: 1) their knowledge increased in literacy instruction with the support of coaching and modeling, 2) the modeling of lessons was valuable in their practice, and 3) their students grew as readers and writers.
Coaching, Literacy, Professional development