In an interview with the Atlantic Stephen King discussed his time as a high school English teacher. As a teacher of writing King recalled, “it went best for me when I could communicate my own enthusiasm. I can remember teaching Dracula to sophomores and practically screaming, ‘Look at all the different voices in this book! Stoker’s a ventriloquist! I love that!’ I don’t have much use for teachers who “perform,” like they’re onstage, but kids respond to enthusiasm. You can’t command a kid to have fun, but you can make the classroom a place that feels safe, where interesting things happen.” The link to the article is provided below:
There has been a movement towards using gaming for educational purposes. Incorporating gaming into lessons for the purposes of engagement has been the most popular use thus far. However, now a case is being made for using games for assessments. Kamenetz (2014) writes an interesting blog explaining the benefits of this non-traditional type of assessment.
An excerpt from the article:
Imagine you’re playing a computer game that asks you to design a poster for the school fair. You’re fiddling with fonts, changing background colors and deciding what activity to feature: Will a basketball toss appeal to more people than a pie bake-off?
Then, animal characters — maybe a panda or an ostrich — offer feedback on your design. You can choose whether to hear a compliment or a complaint: “The words are overlapping too much,” or, “I like that you put in the dates.”
You can use their critiques as guides to help you revise your poster. Finally, you get to see how many tickets your poster sold.
This little Web-based game isn’t just a game. It’s a test, too.
The article also touches on Schwartz’s theory of assessment which focuses on choice. Schwartz argues that “the ultimate goal of education is to create independent thinkers who make good decisions. And so we need assessments that test how students think, not what they happen to know at a given moment.” I wonder how this form of assessment may change a student’s relationship with test-taking. I’m curious to follow this trend and find out.
Read entire blog here:
With the first month of school soon behind us I (Yiola) want to share some examples of my 4 year old daughter’s (Sylvia Clare) literacy learning in Full Day Kindergarten (FDK).
Example 1: Phonemic awareness. Sylvia Clare must be learning about the letter H. On more than one occasion she has demonstrated her understanding of phonemes and phoneme isolation. I said, “Sylvia Clare you must be hungry”. Sylvia Clare paused and responded, “Mommy, is hungry like Henry? huh huh huh.” I paused in surprise of her observation and connection and simply said, “Yes”. Later in the evening I said, “Hendrix and Orion are going to visit soon” and Sylvia Clare responded, “Hendrix is like hungry and Henry, right mommy?”
Example 2: Letter recognition. One night earlier this week while tucking Sylvia Clare in bed I noticed she was curled in the most unusual position. I observed but said nothing. Just as I was about to pull the bed sheets up Sylvia Clare said, “Mommy, what letter do I look like?” I respond, “hmmmm, interesting. I’m thinking you look like an I?” Sylvia Clare laughs, “Noooooo. What letter do I look like mommy?”
She is also taking objects and forming letters. For example, while playing outside, she took two twigs and placed them together to form the letter “V” and asked, “Does this look like a letter mommy? What letter is this?”
Example 3: Vocabulary development and comprehension. More and more Sylvia Clare comes home with stories. Vivid stories. Curious stories. Each day her stories grow in detail and description. The other day she explained she went on a trip to the forest in search of an oak tree. She shared, “On the way to the forest, I held a boy’s hand [she paused and blushed]. His name is *Sam (changed) and he is in SK (senior kindergarten) so he is bigger. I fell down on my way to the forest but I did not get hurt and the teacher gave me a bandaid. The forest close to the park mommy, you know the one we always go to. We went into the forest just a little, not deep in the forest, only at the entrance. There we found a humungous oak tree. It had 4 trunks and they went out like this (uses her arms and points in four different directions). So it really looked like four trees stuck together. We looked at the bark”. I asked if it was an angel oak tree. She was not sure but she continued to share news about her experience.
Example 4: Confidence. Sylvia Clare drew a map of the world at home, wrapped it up and took it to school. I thought nothing of this as I dropped her off in the morning. Then I realized I left her lunch bag at home! I scrambled home and rushed back to the school to bring her lunch. By the time I returned to the school the children were engaged in outdoor play/education/inquiry. I saw Sylvia Clare standing with one of her teachers, her map open and making reference to it. The teacher saw me and smiled, “Sylvia Clare is reading her map and we are now trying to find the treasure”. How wonderful to see play and literacy in harmony. A reader is a person who reads. Sylvia Clare was demonstrating she is a reader. Then, at the end of the day when I went to pick her up she had another paper in hand. I asked, “What did you work on today?” and Sylvia Clare explained that she lost her map so she made another one – she developed a graphic organizer, a way to read, understand and appreciate the world. My thoughts: thank you teachers, for providing the time and space for Sylvia Clare to engage in what interests her and thank you for appreciating those interests.
On her own, without probe, Sylvia Clare is offering hints of literacy teaching and learning. With sly enthusiasm she is sharing her learning with me, in subtle, whimsical ways. She is sharing her achievements and understandings and I can tell she is proud that she is learning new things. What excites me is that her learning is evident; in her sharing, practice and happiness. It is not coming home by way of worksheets or alphabet books. I look forward to seeing and sharing what the upcoming months hold.
Our 1-year consecutive B.Ed. program has begun and I’ve (Clive) had two meetings with my School & Society class. The student teachers are wonderful: committed, talented, experienced in many ways, worldly-wise but friendly. Where do such people come from? Why do they continue to go into teaching when it’s so hard to find a job? Anyway, I’m glad they do.
Our second class was on program development and I stressed that, when they become teachers, they will have much less teaching-time than they thought and will need to prioritize, be flexible, and make choices. This led to a discussion of the extensive unit and lesson plans they will be expected to submit during their program, and the massive long-range plan their future principal will require of them. I related how the teachers in our longitudinal study use shorter lesson and unit plans – and then very flexibly – and seldom refer to their long-range plans. They have trouble seeing the point of such detailed planning exercises.
We agreed that they have no choice – during the program and later – but to fulfill such requirements. However, it makes a big difference to see such planning as a “requirement” they don’t necessarily agree with – rooted in traditional “transmission” models – rather than a “state of the art” approach to teaching. Then they can produce the detailed plans quickly and without undue angst, and get on with the serious business of teaching.
Several students expressed relief at being able to approach it this way; and I saw it as an important window on the complexities of effective, autonomous teaching. It is true that our teaching has to be comprehensive, and we have to know where we’re going. But highly detailed lesson plans that we follow to the letter aren’t the best way to get there. What room does this leave for individualization, student construction of knowledge, and our own on the spot learning as teachers? For my own 3-hour class I usually have about 6 main topics, of which we get to 3 or 4 and often in a different order and with different time allocations than I had planned. And of course we discuss other topics that weren’t even on my list….
I llllooooovvee teaching poetry- especially Loris Lesynski style poetry. Her poems are often all over the page, graphically depicting how the poem should sound. My favorite collection of hers is Dirty Dog Boogie. Delightfully rhythmical. She also has a wonderful sense of humor, both in her writing and in person. Even her facebook posts are funny. Here is what she wrote the other day…
I just got a call from The Humane Society — my cat is going to SUE me for posting her picture without permission and for the implication that I own the desk, not her. I didn’t even know she had a facebook page! I cannot keep up with technology!!!!
If young children in your life like tap dancing type funny- find a Loris book!
I (Clare) feel it is so important to recognize the fine work done by my colleagues. AERA Division K has a host of awards. Below is a list of awards. Please circulate this list of awards to your network and consider nominating a colleague for one of these awards.
DIVISION K –
Teaching and Teacher Education Awards
2014-2015 Call for Nominations
As teacher education undergoes increased scrutiny and is pressed to demonstrate its contributions to teacher and student learning, Division K’s awards take on added importance as a means by which to elevate exemplary scholarship in our field.
The AERA Division K awards aim to recognize the teacher education scholarship of division members who are addressing persistent issues of urgent concern to the field. While the six individual awards committees will focus, as intended, on their respective areas of emphasis, each will also take into account the Division’s overarching call for attention to issues of profession-wide concern. To this end, each committee will give special consideration to award submissions that hold promise for improving teacher education policy and practice in the following areas: strengthening, deepening and further developing the knowledge and research base for teaching and teacher education; providing rigorous and educative clinical experiences; preparing teachers to serve students with diverse cultural and experiential backgrounds; supporting teachers to understand and apply theoretical and empirical perspectives on teaching and learning; articulating well-designed, evidence-based pedagogical practices in teacher education; and/or developing and implementing new approaches for assessing and evaluating teachers’ practices in preservice and inservice settings. In particular, committees will weigh the potential of nominees’ work to advance the profession of teaching and the practice of teacher education.
Please consider submitting nominations so that we, as a Division, can showcase members’ excellent works, thereby building a stronger knowledge base and making our colleagues’ valuable contributions more widely known among educators and policymakers.
All nominees and nominators must be current members of AERA’s Division K. Self-nominations ARE NOT accepted. Letters of nomination should be sent via email to each award committee chair, referenced below. Particular requirements associated with each award and materials needed for the nominations are described in detail below. Please note that all nomination letters must be submitted by November 1, 2014.
Outstanding Dissertation Award
Chair: Maritza Macdonald, American Museum of Natural History
This award recognizes a dissertation of exemplary conceptual, methodological, and literary quality on an important topic in teaching and teacher education. For this year’s award, dissertations completed between August 1, 2013 and August 1, 2014 may be nominated. A dissertation may be submitted for consideration only once and can be nominated for an award within only one division of AERA. The committee uses a blind review process; only the committee chair will know the identity of the nominator and nominee.
Dissertations employing any theoretical and methodological orientation may be nominated as long as they make an important contribution to teaching and teacher education. In addition to reflecting the highest of standards of methodological rigor, nominated dissertations should focus on issues that are currently crucial to the field, including teacher and teaching quality and innovative means for documenting and assessing the processes and outcomes of teaching, teacher education, induction, and/or professional development. Special consideration will be given to dissertations that generate insights which hold promise for advancing educational equity; the committee will also consider the strength of a dissertation as it relates to the overarching Division K call for focused attention on persistent issues of urgent concern to the field. (See the overarching call above.)
Nomination for the dissertation award comes in the form of a one-page letter and overview from a member of the dissertation committee. Upon receipt of nominations, the Dissertation Award committee chair will solicit additional materials directly from nominees. Additional nomination materials include: (1) a title sheet showing the dissertation title, awarding institution, members of the dissertation committee, date of completion of the degree, and nominee’s current contact information; (2) the table of contents of the dissertation; and (3) a summary of the dissertation written in an accepted publication format (such as APA) not exceeding 7500 words in 12-point font, exclusive of title page, references, and appendices and without author identification. Nominations must be received no later than November 1, 2014. All nominations should be sent electronically with the subject line “Division K Outstanding Dissertation Award Submission” to the chair, Dr. Maritza Macdonald, Senior Director of Education and Policy, American Museum of Natural History, firstname.lastname@example.org
Early Career Award
Chair: Kathy Schultz, Mills College
This award, made to a researcher in the first stages of the research career (degrees awarded during or after 2007 and up to two years post-tenure), recognizes a significant program of research on important problems of theory and/or practice that focus on teachers, teaching, or teacher education. Recipients of this award must be engaged in inquiry that extends a significant line of research, addresses an issue that has been neglected in the field, fills a gap in current knowledge, or raises significant questions about extant knowledge. In addition, awardees should be engaged in studying problems or questions that are timely and that contribute to current policy debates or dilemmas of practice. The scholar’s body of work must be characterized by methodological rigor, momentum and coherence, and must show potential to contribute significantly to scholarship in the field. In addition to criteria outlined here, the Early Career Award committee will also consider the strength of nominees’ submitted works as they relate to the overarching Division K call for focused attention on persistent issues of urgent concern to the field. (See the overarching call above.)
To nominate a Division K member for the Early Career Award, please submit a one-page letter describing the nominee’s qualifications and fit for the award. Upon receipt of nominations, the Early Career Award committee chair will solicit additional materials directly from nominees. These additional materials include: (1) the nominee’s most recent curriculum vitae, (2) two representative scholarly publications, and (3) one additional letter of support from an individual familiar with the nominee’s contributions to scholarship in teaching or teacher education. Letters of support should address how the research demonstrates qualities detailed in the paragraph above as well as in the overarching call for Division K award nominations. Nominations must be received no later than November 1, 2014. All nominations should be sent electronically with the subject line “Division K Early Career Award Submission” to the chair, Dr. Kathy Schultz, Professor and Dean, Mills College, email@example.com
Chair: Guofang Wan, Virginia Commonwealth University
This award honors an outstanding researcher in the second stage of his or her research career, i.e., between 10 and 15 years beyond receiving the doctoral degree. It is designed to recognize a significant program of research on important issues in teaching or teacher education.
Examples of work that will be considered for selection include research and scholarship that illustrate how students learn a concept in a particular content area; generate insights into the role of culture, socioeconomic status, language background, religion, and/or sexual orientation in the learning and/or teaching process; capture the role of various factors or experiences in the careers of teachers such as mentoring, collaborating with others, conducting action research or participating in an inquiry group; advance equity in schooling or teacher education practices; show innovation and rigor in methodology; and/or illustrate how families/communities can become partners with teachers in educating their children. Work submitted will be evaluated according to how the researcher’s trajectory demonstrates beneficial aims and outcomes; how the body of work advances knowledge about teaching or teacher education; how the researcher’s corpus demonstrates contribution to the well-being of students, teacher candidates, teachers, teacher educators, or families/communities; and the scholarly robustness of the work.
The noted contribution may be the result of a single research project or the accumulation of projects that have shaped thinking and/or practices in teaching and teacher education. In addition to criteria outlined here, the committee will also consider the strength of nominees’ submitted works as they relate to the overarching Division K call for focused attention on persistent issues of urgent concern to the field. (See the overarching call above.)
To nominate a Division K member for the Mid-Career Award, please submit a one-page letter describing the nominee’s qualifications and fit for the award. Upon receipt of nominations, the Mid-Career Award committee chair will solicit additional materials directly from nominees. These additional materials include: (1) the nominee’s most recent curriculum vitae, (2) two representative scholarly publications, and (3) two additional letters of support from individuals familiar with the nominee’s contributions to scholarship in teaching or teacher education. Letters of support should address how the research demonstrates qualities detailed in the paragraph above as well as in the overarching call for Division K award nominations. Nominations must be received no later than November 1, 2014. All nominations should be sent electronically with the subject line “Division K Mid-Career Award Submission” to the chair, Dr. Guofang Wan, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Innovations in Research on Diversity in Teacher Education
Chair: Lee Bell, Barnard College
The Division K Innovations in Research On Diversity in Teacher Education Award recognizes research that demonstrates innovation in addressing issues of diversity in teaching and/or teacher education. Nominees may be individuals (junior, mid-career, or senior scholars) or a small collaborative group whose innovative research: explores and/or demonstrates powerful new ways to think about diversity in teaching and teacher education, giving direction to the field and to policy makers; offers an expanded vision of a theoretical framework, research methodologies, or practices regarding diversity in teaching and teacher education; or provides new models of research that give direction to the field concerning diversity in teaching and teacher education. The innovative contribution may be the result of a single research project or the accumulation of projects that have directly shaped thinking and/or practices regarding diversity in teaching and teacher education and must have been published as a peer-reviewed publication, such as a journal article or scholarly book.
Nomination materials are rated in a two-phase process. The innovation under consideration is the premiere criterion and should be clearly evident. After rating the value and importance of the innovation, additional criteria are examined regarding how the innovation: (1) focuses on diversity; (2) contributes to teacher education; (3) is significant/has made an impact; and (4) contributes to policy and practice.
In addition to criteria outlined here, the committee will also consider the strength of nominees’ submitted works as they relate to the overarching Division K call for focused attention on persistent issues of urgent concern to the field. (See the overarching call above.)
To nominate a Division K member for the Innovations in Research On Diversity in Teacher Education Award, please submit a one-page letter explaining how the nominee qualifies to be recognized for the award, clearly specifying the innovation under consideration and its value in addressing issues of diversity in teacher education. Upon receipt of the nominating letter, the award committee chair will solicit additional materials directly from each nominee. These additional materials include: 1) the nominee’s most recent curriculum vitae; 2) two representative scholarly publications; and 3) two additional letters of support from individuals familiar with the nominee’s contributions to scholarship in diversity in teaching or teacher education. Letters of support should address how the research demonstrates qualities detailed in the paragraph above as well as in the overarching call for Division K award nominations. Nominations must be received no later than November 1, 2014. All nominations should be sent electronically with the subject line “Division K Innovations in Research on Diversity Award Submission” to the chair, Dr. Lee Bell, Professor and Barbara Silver Horowitz Director of Education, Barnard College, email@example.com
Exemplary Research in Teaching and Teacher Education
Chair: Jon Snyder, Stanford University
This award recognizes the significant contribution to teaching and teacher education scholarship represented by a journal article or book published between January 2013 and July 2014. Special consideration will be given to nominated articles or books that: advance equity; generate insights that hold promise for ensuring the preparation of teachers who are equipped to serve all students; bring new methods to bear on the study of teacher education; reflect the highest standards of methodological rigor; and/or capture in ground-breaking ways the processes and outcomes of teacher education practice. In addition to criteria outlined here, the Exemplary Research in Teaching and Teacher Education Award committee will also consider the strength of nominees’ submitted works as they relate to the overarching Division K call for focused attention on persistent issues of urgent concern to the field. (See the overarching call above.)
To nominate a Division K member for the Exemplary Research in Teaching and Teacher Education Award, please submit a one-page letter describing the merits of the research publication, together with a copy of the nominated article. If a book is nominated, please ask the publisher to mail 6 copies of the nominated book to the award committee chair. Upon receipt of the nomination and written publication that is under consideration, the award committee chair will request a current curriculum vitae from each nominee. Nominations must be received no later than November 1, 2014. All nominations should be sent electronically with the subject line “Division K Exemplary Research in Teaching and Teacher Education Award Submission” to the chair, Dr. Jon Snyder, Executive Director, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair: Celia Oyler, Teachers College, Columbia University
The Division K Legacy Award recognizes senior members of Division K who have made significant and exemplary contributions through their research, teaching and professional service in the field of teaching and teacher education. Special consideration will be given to contributions that reflect the purposes and goals of Division K: (1) to advance knowledge about teaching and teacher education; (2) to encourage scholarly inquiry related to teaching and teacher education, and; (3) to promote the use of research to improve teaching and teacher education to serve the public good. Recipients will be recognized in a profile in the newsletter and in the proceedings of the annual Division K Business meeting. In addition, a donation will be given to the recipient’s university to support graduate student travel to present at an AERA Annual Meeting. The recipient will also be featured on the Legacy Award Hall of Fame page of the Division’s website. Priority will be given to emeriti and newly deceased members so that their contributions can be honored in a timely and worthy fashion.
Any nominee must meet at least three of the following seven criteria: (1) has played an active and long-standing role in the work of Division K; (2) is highly respected and has been recognized by others (nationally and internationally) as a leader in the field of teaching and teacher education who has contributed to the public debate on critical issues related to teaching and teacher education; (3) has actively promoted the use of research to improve teaching and teacher education serving the public good; (4) has conducted original, and innovative research that has been widely accessible to other researchers and practitioners and has had a major impact on teaching and teacher education; (5) has a distinguished record of teaching in the field of teaching and teacher education, as evidenced by the receipt of teaching awards, and commendations from students, or the equivalent; (6) has played an active role in the preparation of high-quality and innovative materials for teaching and teacher education; (7) has supported others—in particular new and younger scholars—to further their research and teaching in the field through mentoring, collaborative research and professional development opportunities, and other similar activities, both in Division K and in other similar professional/academic venues. In addition to these seven criteria, the Legacy Award Committee will also consider the strength of nominees’ submitted works as they relate to the overarching Division K call for focused attention on persistent issues of urgent concern to the field. (See the overarching call above.)
To nominate a Division K member for the Legacy Award, please submit a one-page letter describing how the nominee exemplifies the criteria described above. The chair will also collect additional supporting documentation including: (1) curriculum vitae, (2) sample publications, and (3) personal website information. Nominations must be received no later than November 1, 2014. All nominations should be sent electronically with the subject line “Division K Legacy Award Submission” to the chair, Dr. Celia Oyler, Professor of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, email@example.com
On a recent walk I noticed the front lawn of a home in my neighborhood proudly exhibits a quaint little wooden structure perched a top a post, which at first glance looked like an oversized bird house, however, upon closer examination I noticed that the petite house is full of books and displays a sign that invites passersby to take a book and return a book. The small wooden house is part of the Little Free Library initiative, a not-for-profit organization that promotes literacy, a love of reading, and a sense of community. The project began in 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse in honor of his mother, a former teacher who loved reading. He filled the model schoolhouse with books and put it on a post in his front yard. According the website www.littlefreelibrary.org “a loyal cadre of volunteers made it possible to expand the organizational reach…. By January of 2014, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 15,000, with thousands more being built.” Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood or a community literacy initiative that you would like to share?
Now that the school year has started, parent-teacher conferences are not too far away. Often parents only get 5-10 minutes with their child’s teacher(s). Nadworny from NPR suggests that in that limited time parents should focus on three major areas: the child; the classroom; and the future. Below are excerpts from the NPR article.
- The Child
- “Most experts suggest telling the teacher about your child: Describe what they’re like at home, what interests and excites them, and explain any issues at home that may be affecting your child at school.”
- The Classroom
- “Ask about what’s happening in the classroom — both academically and socially.”
- “Don’t be afraid to ask the teacher to clarify what assessment or grades actually mean.”
- “Before the meeting is over, you should be sure you’re clear on the teacher’s expectations for your child.”
- The Future
- “To get the most out of the conversation, she says, both the teacher and the parent should know what comes next. Brainstorm with the teacher to come up with ways to solve challenges your child faces. Ask for concrete examples of things you can do at home to help.”
Read the entire article here:
Reading as an experience takes many forms. We read alone – in the comfort of our homes. We read in groups – shared reading in the classroom and book clubs. We read to connect to the broader community – through social media and the news. This week I (Yiola) received an invitation to a Literary Tea from the Yonge Gogos: an opportunity to engage in literacy in the community.
My aunt Valerie is a Yonge Gogo. “Yonge” for Toronto’s famous Yonge St. and surrounding area and “Gogo” the African word for ‘grandmother’. The Yonge Gogos (how I love the play on words) are grandmothers in Canada who work with grandmothers in Africa.
The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign raises funds in Canada for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s work with community level organizations in Africa that provide grandmothers and the children in their care with the necessities of life, including counselling, nutrition, shelter, school supplies and income generation activities.
This year’s literary tea features Sally Armstrong, journalist, filmmaker, and award-winning author. There will be a reading from her book Uprising and time to socialize.
I think an event such as this is simply amazing: hosted by strong women in our local community who are committed to and working with strong women abroad; bringing the community together through literacy to raise money for a wonderful organization – the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
I find this literary event of interest because of the visiting author, the featured book, and the focus: the empowerment of women around the world. Here is a description of the book:
Uprising: A New Age Is Dawning for Every Mother’s Daughter
From Africa to Asia to the Americas, women are the key to progress on ending poverty, violence, and conflict. Award-winning humanitarian and journalist Sally Armstrong shows us why empowering women and girls is the way forward, and she introduces us to the leading females who are making change happen, from Nobel Prize winners to little girls suing from justice. Uprising tells dramatic and empowering stories of change-makers and examines the stunning courage, tenacity and wit they are using to alter the status quo. In this landmark book that ties together feminism and our global economy, Sally Armstrong brings us the voices of the women all over the world whose bravery and strength is changing the world as we know it.
Retrieved from: http://www.speakers.ca/speakers/sally-armstrong/
Attached is the flyer for the Literary Tea. The event takes place October 19th at 2pm in Toronto. I will be there. You too are invited to join as well. If you are able to attend please contact Ena @ 416-485-0753. Perhaps I will see you there to share literacy teaching in the community.
What are the ways teachers learn? What kinds of professional development activities do teachers participate in during their careers? What are the main supports for teacher learning in Ontario? What are the professional learning activities teachers find more helpful? What are teachers’ critiques to the current professional development activities?
These questions were in my mind when I (Elizabeth) started my Master´s thesis research at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Working with Clare Kosnik and Clive Beck in the longitudinal study of teachers (http://literacyteaching.net/projects/) has been a great opportunity to learn about teachers and teaching. My Master’s thesis research was a sub-study of this longitudinal study.
The experiences of Tanya and Anita – the two teachers who participated in my study – offered me a great opportunity to gain insight into their learning experiences. Drew on interviews that were held over their first eight years in the teaching profession, my aim was to:
- identify the kinds of professional development opportunities that were available to the teachers, and
- describe the teachers’ perceptions of the possibilities and limits of these opportunities.
The most relevant conclusions of my study are:
- Mentoring can be very helpful provided the mentor is well-selected, the timing is precise, and the relationship is encouraging
The findings suggest that there are three key elements for a beneficial induction process: (i) the pairing process should consider a match in the teaching assignments of the mentor and mentee, (ii) the induction should start in the first year of teaching and early in the academic year, and (iii) the relationship should respond to the emotional needs of the new teacher.
- Collaboration can significantly enhance teacher professional learning. However, the benefits can be constrained by educational policy pressures and different visions of teaching within the collaborating group.
The teachers participated in several formal and informal opportunities to collaborate with other teachers. They valued “bouncing ideas off each other” and “talking through” their pedagogical practices in these experiences.
Nevertheless, teachers critiqued the formal opportunities sponsored by the government since they focused on specific content that was not related to their needs. The research points to the necessity of teacher input and decision-making for the design and implementation of relevant professional development programs.
Also, teachers found it challenging when different vision of teaching emerge within the collaborating group. The findings suggest the importance of conducting a discussion of visions of teaching in order to establish common ground on which to build collaboration in a community of teachers.
- University graduate degree work can be a valuable means of teacher professional learning through fostering connections between pedagogical theory and teaching practice.
The parallel work of teaching and part-time graduate studies presented one of the teachers with several opportunities to link theory and practice. There were reciprocal gains from participation in both spaces. For instance, the readings about new theories of literacy shaped her classroom practice, and also her teaching informed her research.
Further research is needed to understand the potential benefits of graduate studies as an alternative route for teacher professional development.
If you are interested in learning more about Tanya and Anita learning experiences, you can access the following link to download my full work (for FREE!)
Your opinions and feedback are welcome!