College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Author

Alicia Meno

Date of Award

6-2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Kuzmic, Jeffrey

Second Advisor

Proweller, Amira

Third Advisor

Rury, John

Abstract

This inquiry explored one group of teachers' experiences in an innovative professional development opportunity, known as Book Talk, and its implications for understanding and defining professional development. This study further examined professional development and its relationship with the school's organizational structure. A qualitative, teacher research methodology, with a phenomenological orientation framed this inquiry Book Talk was a site-based, teacher-directed initiative designed to break isolation and develop collegiality among teachers. The Book Talk model of professional development promoted a collaborative environment, in which teachers developed trust to share and work together to inquire about children's literature. The participating teachers recognized that when time was provided for professional development and professional development was directed by teachers, significant implications for collegiality, learning, and change evolved. The collaborative model of Book Talk supported the new paradigm of professional development that promotes collegial interaction, continuous learning, and building a community of teachers who are both learners and experts. Book Talk teachers reported that significant professional development is limited in the current organization of schools because social, political, cultural, and structural influences invade the professional context of teachers and can impede professional development. These influences surround the teachers' understandings that: (1) Teachers work in isolation; (2) Teachers are pressured by time; (3) Teachers are subordinates, thus outsiders of the educational context control teachers, their work, their knowledge, and their development; (4) Teachers teach from mandates and prescriptions, thereby automating teachers' practice; (5) Teachers are expected to meet society's demands, hence teachers' roles are expanding; (6) Teachers lack power, and in return teachers' voices are silenced and teachers are ignored in the educational context. Findings of this inquiry indicate that several changes must occur to enable teachers to assume a greater role in the professional development context: (1) A change in relations of power in the educational context, (2) A structural change in schools, teaching, and learning, (3) A change in the organizational schedule of the teaching day, and (4) A change towards teacher-generated learning for all teachers—veteran teachers and future candidates.

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