Teachers As Learners : A Study Of Elementary Teachers' Implementation Of The Iowa Professional Development Model
SubjectElementary school teachers--Iowa--Study and teaching; Career development--Education, Elementary--Study and Teaching--Iowa
Research in the field of professional development, though growing, is void of studies exploring the implementation of models of professional development, particularly in districts with high achievement. This inquiry was designed to examine the perception of elementary teachers of their implementation of the Iowa Professional Development Model in a high achieving Iowa school district and to explore operational variability regarding the implementation of the model. Naturalistic inquiry (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) provided the theoretical framework for this study. Data were collected through multiple sources: an online survey that provided not only demographic data but also self-reported implementation data; district documents, including the comprehensive school improvement plan and the building goal documents; and focus group interviews. In naturalistic inquiry data collection and analysis occur simultaneously. To facilitate analysis, survey data were organized into cross-tabulations; and the text responses to the open-ended survey question were processed via a Concordance© program, entered into data tables, and coded according to emergent themes using the naturalistic approach to the constant comparison method. Focus group interview transcriptions were processed and analyzed using the same approach. Findings suggest teachers had an abstract, general understanding of the Iowa Professional Development Model, but that they would welcome the opportunity to deepen their understanding. Teachers reported engaging to the greatest extent in the professional development components of collaboration, reflection, and analysis of student achievement; but they reported engaging least in peer observation and coaching. Overwhelmingly, teachers viewed professional development as focused on their learning and identified time as a critical resource. Teachers acknowledged the importance of both building and district leadership to systematize their work in school improvement. Although teachers engaged in the components of professional development, their participation and response varied. Teachers felt the pressure of competing interests and limited time and opportunity to address them. District leaders should consider communicating and explaining the Iowa Professional Development Model with the intended outcome of a full implementation at both the district-wide and school levels. In addition, leaders should consider periodic audits of time to increase awareness as to how teachers and leaders are spending their time.
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