“Chocolate & Peppermints,” “Science Journal,” and lots of “Goodies” but not enough time to talk: Elementary teachers’ opportunities for learning through school-based professional development
Katherine Ann Morris.
This paper presents an analysis of elementary teachers’ opportunities for learning with and from colleagues during school-based professional development. American teachers are inundated with educational reforms that require improving instructional practices in order to enhance student learning and achievement. Given that systemic improvement of teaching practices entails teacher learning, this paper examines the nature of opportunities for teacher learning that exist within American schools. True, in most schools teachers gather regularly for various kinds of meetings, ostensibly with improvement as a goal. But what evidence is there that these gatherings actually entail opportunities for teachers to engage professionally in ways that might lead to improving teaching practices and hence student learning? In other words, what is the evidence that opportunities are afforded for teaching learning?
Illustrative vignettes and innovative conceptual frameworks are used to portray interactional and epistemic patterns in school-based professional development based on the analysis of ethnographic and discourse analytic data. Findings illuminate explicit, situated, missed, and thwarted opportunities for teacher learning during one year within one school — a community of practice selected for its pre-existing “technical culture” in which teachers shared visions of successful teaching and were comfortable offering and receiving collegial help with teaching. Juxtaposing teachers’ goals for learning and improvement with the actual opportunities for learning afforded through school-based professional development, this study has implications for teachers, administrators, policy-makers and teacher educators, as well as educational researchers.
Katherine Ann Morris (United States)
Assistant Professor of Elementary Mathematics Education
Department of Literacy Studies and Elementary Education
Sonoma State University
Kathy Morris PhD is an Assistant Professor of Elementary Mathematics Education at Sonoma State University where she teaches mathematics teaching methods courses and supervises student teachers. Her research interests focus on teachers' professional development in two specific areas: (1) the breadth of professional development for elementary (generalist) teachers, and (2) professional development in mathematics for elementary and middle school teachers.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)